Beetroot juice is an unlikely performance enhancing food.

It’s high in nitrates that are important for synthesizing nitric oxide in the inner lining of blood vessels. Nitric oxide is a gas that promotes blood flow and its regulation is an important marker of metabolic health.

It is also high in antioxidants that protect cells from naturally occurring but highly reactive free radicals that contribute to muscle soreness after intense exercise.

A study led by Tom Clifford from Northampton University in the UK found that consuming beetroot juice between two exhaustive bouts of sprint intervals reduced muscle pain and improved vertical jump compared to a placebo.

Beetroot did not raise antioxidants levels or improve performance during the second set of sprints. Beetroot promotes recovery from intense exercise, but it is no magic bullet.