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The Beetroot Study

Full information sheet (pdf) -  Beetroot Study information sheet3.pdf (210 KB)

The effects of supplementation with nitrate-rich beetroot juice on performance and cardiovascular health of younger and older adults.

Researcher Introduction

My name is Luke and I am a PhD student at Massey University. My supervisors are Associate Professors Ajmol Ali,  Kay Rutherfurd-Markwick and Rachel Page.

Invitation to Participate in Research Study

With increasing rates of disease and age-related dysfunction, there is a growing interest in the use of food-based supplements to help improve or maintain one’s health and body functions. This has led to the interest in beetroot juice (which contains nitrate) as a health food, as it has the potential to improve cognition, mood and cardiovascular function. For my Honours project I found that beetroot juice reduced blood pressure and improved cognitive performance in younger and older adults; however, further research is required to support this. The aims of this study are to examine the effects of a single dose and prolonged intake of nitrate supplementation, of beetroot juice, on cognition, mood and cardiovascular responses in younger (18-30 years) and older adults (50-70 years).

Participant Recruitment

Males and females (aged 18–30 or 50–70 years) are invited to participate in this study. Individuals who are advanced/elite athletes (someone who trains four or more times per week for their sport and competes at a high level), or with any of the conditions listed on the “health checklist” should not volunteer to participate. If you are unsure about any of the listed conditions, then you should consult with the researchers. Please note that consumption of beetroot juice may cause beeturia (red or pink urine) or red stool but this is short-lived. Each participant will receive a $25 MTA voucher (per visit) for travel expenses for participation in this study on a pro-rata basis. upon completion of the study. Please read this information sheet carefully before deciding whether or not to volunteer to participate.

Project Procedures and Participant Involvement

If you agree to participate, you will be asked to come to the Sport and Exercise laboratory four times. The laboratory is located in Building 60 Massey University Oteha Rohe Campus, Albany Highway, Albany.

You will be asked to wear appropriate exercise clothing, including training shoes. The first visit (30 min) will be for a familiarisation of the procedures and equipment to be used as well as to calculate your workrate for the cycle exercise for the main trials and explain the protocol for juice consumption. You will also be asked to fill out a health screening checklist and consent form. The second visit will be a baseline work to completion cycle test (30 min). Visits 3-5 will be the three intervention trials and will be completed on days 1, 14 and 28. In the first trial you will be randomly allocated to either the beetroot juice supplement or placebo (a drink that tastes the same but does not contain nitrate) trial.

The second and third trials will be identical to the first but performed after 14 and 28 days of supplementation, respectively. You will be asked to consume the allocated drink in the morning with breakfast everyday apart from the trial days where you will consume the drink in the laboratory with breakfast. You will be provided half the drinks after trial 1 and the other half after trial 2. All empty bottles will need to be returned to the laboratory at each trial. You will also be asked to refrain from caffeine and alcohol consumption, and exercise 24 hours prior to main trials. You will also need to record your diet for two days prior to the first main trial and replicate diet and lifestyle factors for the second and third trials. If you become sick or injured during the 28 days and cannot complete the supplementation please contact the researcher.

For the main trials, you will be asked to arrive at the laboratory in the morning after observing an overnight fast; we will then take a resting blood sample and measure your weight, resting blood pressure, oxygen uptake and heart rate. You will then be asked to complete three cognitive tests (on a computer) and complete three mood and perceptual scales (profile of mood states, feeling scale and felt arousal scale). Afterwards we will ask you to consume a standardised breakfast (cereal or toast) with 150 ml of either the beetroot drink or placebo. A 2.25 hour waiting period is required for sufficient absorption of the beverage. Within this time, you may do some work, check emails or watch videos in the lab; however, it is important that no food is consumed (you can drink water only).

After the waiting period we will take another blood sample and repeat measures of heart rate, blood pressure, cognitive tests and mood scales. You will then be asked to complete a performance test on a stationary bike based on 20-min at 75% of your pre-determined work max. We will measure heart rate, oxygen uptake, and brain blood flow continuously throughout the cycle, and ratings of perceived exertion (RPE) at regular periods during the time trial. On completion of the exercise all measures will be repeated again. In total, we will take three 10-ml (two teaspoons) blood samples per trial.

The above procedures will be repeated for the second and third trial. The total time commitment for the four days will be approx. 12 hours (30-min for baseline cycle trial and 3.5 hours per main trial).

Participant’s Rights

You are under no obligation to accept this invitation. Should you choose to participate, you have the right to:

• decline to answer any particular question
• withdraw from the study at any time, even after signing a consent form (if you choose to withdraw you cannot withdraw your data from the analysis after the data collection has been completed)
• ask any questions about the study at any time during participation
• provide information on the understanding that your name will not be used unless you give permission to the researcher
• be given access to a summary of the project findings when it is concluded


All data collected will be used solely for research purposes and has the possibility of being presented in a professional journal. All personal information will be kept confidential by assigning numbers to each participant. No names will be visible on any papers on which you provide information. All data/information will be dealt with confidentiality and will be stored in a secure location for five years on the Massey University Albany Campus. After this time, it will be disposed of by an appropriate staff member from the School of Sport and Exercise and Nutrition.

Project Contacts

If you have any questions regarding this study, please do not hesitate to contact either of the following people for assistance:

Student researcher: Luke Stanaway

A/Prof Ajmol Ali (School of Sport and Exercise and Nutrition, Massey University)
(09) 213 6414

A/Prof Kay Rutherfurd-Markwick (School of Health Sciences, Massey University)
(09) 213 6646

A/Prof Rachel Page (School of Health Sciences, Massey University)
(04) 801 5799 ext. 63462

Committee Approval Statement

This project has been reviewed and approved by the Massey University Human Ethics Committee:
Southern A, Application 17/36. If you have any concerns about the conduct of this research, please
contact Dr Lesley Batten, Chair, Massey University Human Ethics Committee: Southern A, telephone
06 356 9099 x 85094, email

Compensation for Injury

If physical injury results from your participation in this study, you should visit a treatment provider to make a claim to ACC as soon as possible. ACC cover and entitlements are not automatic and your claim will be assessed by ACC in accordance with the Accident Compensation Act 2001. If your claim is accepted, ACC must inform you of your entitlements, and must help you access those entitlements. Entitlements may include, but not be limited to, treatment costs, travel costs for rehabilitation, loss of earnings, and/or lump sum for permanent impairment. Compensation for mental trauma may also be included, but only if this is incurred as a result of physical injury.

If your ACC claim is not accepted, you should immediately contact the researcher. The researcher will initiate processes to ensure you receive compensation equivalent to that to which you would have been
entitled had ACC accepted your claim.

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