Feel the Beet! What You Need To Know About Beetroot Juice
Sometimes juice gets a bad rap. Nutritionists caution against fruit juice because of its sugar and calorie content. They also advise against “drinking your vegetables” because you lose the benefits of fiber. However, one juice is turning heads and may deserve your attention (and consumption).
Research suggests that beetroot juice — juice made from the familiar round red root vegetable — may have a slew of health benefits.
How To Make Beetroot Juice
“The impressive effects of beetroot juice are thought to be due, in part, to the rich nitrate content of beets,” says Samantha Thoms, MPH, RDN, a registered dietitian nutritionist based in Vancouver. “To increase the odds of reaping some of the health benefits reported in medical studies, peel and juice raw beets when they’re as fresh as possible, and aim to consume at least 250 to 500 mL,” which is approximately 1 to 2 cups, daily.
Beetroot juice is delicious on its own, or you can vary flavor by combining it with other fruits and vegetables. Good combos for beetroot juice include fresh orange, mint and pineapple; or apples, lemon and ginger, says Morton Tavel, MD, clinical professor emeritus at the Indiana University School of Medicine. “Beet soup, or borscht, is also a tasty dish, which is commercially available and consumed cold without additional preparation,” he says.
Is Store-Bought Beetroot Juice Healthy?
Store-bought beetroot juice can certainly be healthy, however nutritional benefits may vary from brand to brand.
A July 2019 study published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism identified the brands that contain the most nitrates. They include:
- Lakewood Organic Beetroot Juice
- R.W. Knudsen Organic Beet Juice
- Just Beet It
- Pomona Organic Pure Beet Juice
“If you’re after the health benefits associated with nitrates, find a high-quality juice — 100% juice, no added sugar,” says Thoms.
What Are The Health Benefits of Beetroot Juice?
As Thoms says, beets are rich in nitrates, which are converted to nitrite and nitric oxide (NO) after being consumed. NO is believed to increase blood flow throughout the body. Beetroot juice is also a good source of Vitamin C, potassium, folate and other nutrients.
1. Beetroot Juice Might Benefit Cardiovascular Health
In a 2017 study, people with heart health issues who consumed beetroot juice were reported to show an improvement in how well their heart pumped blood.
2. Beetroot Juice Might Improve Athletic Performance
In a 2013 study published in the journal Physiology, researchers found that the nitrate in beetroot concentrate increased blood flow to muscles during exercise. That might benefit athletes by increasing blood flow to the fast-twitch muscle fibers used for explosive activity.
In another study, drinking beetroot juice improved bicyclists’ performance by 2.8 percent (11 seconds) in a 4-km time trial and by 2.7 percent (45 seconds) in 16.1-km time trial.
3. Beetroot Juice Is High in Antioxidant-like Compounds
According to a 2015 review of studies published in the journal Nutrients, beetroot juice is exceptionally high in antioxidant-like compounds.
Antioxidants — primarily associated with vitamins A, C, and E — are substances that may prevent or delay certain types of cell damage.
Considerations for Adding Beetroot Juice to Your Diet
“There are no hard and fast rules about drinking beet juice, and most people can safely consume it on a daily basis,” says Thoms.
However, there are a few considerations to keep in mind:
- You should be aware that the pigments in the juice can turn both urine and feces bright pink or purple. “If you see this happening, don’t be alarmed,” says Thoms.
- If you have a medical condition, or take any medications, speak with your doctor before starting to drink beet juice.
- Keep food safety in mind when preparing beet juice. Always use undamaged produce that has been washed thoroughly, scrubbed and dried first with a clean towel, advises Thoms.
- Beet juice should be consumed fresh. If you have leftovers, store it tightly wrapped in the fridge and drink within 24 hours.
Finally, consider beetroot juice a component of a healthy diet, not a magic elixir.
It’s the total diet that is most important in achieving good health, says Tavel. “Eat a varied diet, rather than concentrating solely on individual foods as the key to good health.”