Nutrition 101: Is Beet Juice the Next Super Food?

21SHARES

By: , SparkPeople Blogger
8/20/2009 6:13 AM   :  119 comments   :  71,255 Views



When I saw a new report last week about the benefits of beet juice, I thought it was worth looking into further. It was only after I did a little more investigating that I discovered, beet juice just might become the next marketing focus right behind pomegranates as a potential super food you should be including in your diet.


As we continue to look at some nutrition basics in our ongoing Nutrition 101 series, letís look at beets and see whether the benefits are real or nothing more than propaganda and if this is a super food worthy of marketing hype.



Beet juice contains a high level of nitrates, which are believed to have a variety of cardiovascular benefits such as inhibiting platelet aggregation, preventing ischemia-induced endothelial dysfunction, and decreasing blood pressure. A study published last year conducted by researchers at Barts and the London School of Medicine found that drinking 500 ml (a little over 2 cups) of beet juice a day can significantly decrease blood pressure. The research found that the benefit came from the ingestion of dietary nitrates that are contained in the beet. Now new British study has found that beet juice can help individuals exercise sixteen percent longer by increasing stamina. This can be a potentially wonderful benefit if your exercise of choice is endurance in nature.

Before you begin to order beet juice online or run to your natural health food store and pay top dollar for this new super food, there are a few points that you should keep in mind. It is important to note that the blood pressure benefits were found in healthy volunteers and NOT in individuals that suffer from hypertension. It seems unclear if the same benefits would be found in those individuals since there are many unanswered questions related to why hypertension affects some and not others. It is also important to note that the conversion of nitrates to nitrites and the roll of saliva, stomach acid and absorption which seemed to be important in the outcome are also all rate limiting steps that could affect how beneficial or applicable this research finding is to those suffering from high blood pressure.

We know that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can be beneficial to lowering blood pressure. Some believed that the reason they were helpful was their antioxidant properties while other researchers were unsure what exactly was responsible for their benefit. While it is exciting to think that nitrates may be a contributing factor, it is important not to jump in with both feet without looking a little deeper.

Vegetable nitrates are naturally occurring and present in small amounts and some are naturally higher in them than others are. The vegetables that tend to be naturally rich in nitrates include not only beets but also spinach, cabbage, broccoli and carrots. Whether vegetables grow conventionally or organically does not seem to matter when it comes to nitrate levels since the food does not discriminate between compost and chemical fertilizers. It is important to note that babies under the age of 3 months should NOT receive nitrate rich vegetables or fruits. This is one reason for the recommendation to wait until babies are over four months of age before starting solids. Also, babies should not receive drinking water or formula made with well water since it typically contains high levels of nitrates from ground water runoff. The risk for infants from high nitrate levels is there conversion to nitrites which can decrease the ability of the blood to transport oxygen which could be life threatening in some situations. Babies between 4 months and one year should receive a variety of solid foods and servings of nitrate rich vegetables should be limited in size and frequency.

The Bottom Line
Including vegetables and fresh vegetable juice is an important part of any healthy diet. While new research findings suggest that drinking fresh beet juice can increase exercise stamina and may have cardiovascular benefits, be aware of the potential for marketing hype and inflated prices for vegetable juice. Instead of buying over priced hype, try investing in a juicer and coming up with a nitrate and vitamin rich drink from fresh carrots, broccoli, spinach, cabbage or beets in a taste combination that you can include as part of an overall healthy diet. Enjoy your new drink at different times of the day and take note if you personally see a benefit in your performance, recovery or blood pressure before you succumb to the marketing or labels from those that seek to make a buck from your interest in improving performance, blood pressure or health.


Have you heard of beet juice or any of its potential benefits? Have you seen it anywhere or been tempted to purchase it?



Click here to to redeem your SparkPoints
  You will earn 5 SparkPoints
 

NEXT ENTRY >   Memorable dailySpark Comments from our Members

Great Stories from around the Web

Comments

  • 119
    I started juicing over a year ago after watching Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead. Soon after, I discovered I had a fatty liver most likely caused by 10 years of drastic yo-yo dieting. Beets are the foundation for all of my juices. I have grown to love the taste and feel that my energy levels have in part skyrocketed due to my juicing. I wholeheartedly recommend juicing. It has made an enormous impact on my overall health and well-being. I can't recommend beets and juicing enough. I feel it has changed my life. - 7/10/2014   3:36:51 PM
  • NEONISMYCOLOR
    118
    I eat a beat everyday. I swear by them. As a runner, I find my endurance is better as well as my general health. Pickled beets contain too much sugar. Costco sells them already peeled and cooked in vacuum packed packages for just a few dollars. Very convenient! I hope they keep stocking them. - 9/4/2013   10:52:57 PM
  • 117
    I love beets. Glad I found this article...and I think a juicer is in my future. :) - 6/17/2013   10:55:31 AM
  • CELTICMAID
    116
    the woman I buy wholesale health foods from recommended beetroot and oranges ifor me to juice but I forgot the proportions - does anyone know?
    Also I am getting mixed messages about smoothies, juices and fruits......I now have read that fruits are a blood sugar hit and spike! Really confused now! - 4/20/2013   5:52:24 PM
  • 115
    I have been juicing the raw beet since it is fall and the beets are looking wonderful and 5 pounds for $1 much better than $2 a pound in summer.... I juice maybe 2 beets, 6 carrots, some ginger...... a 3 inch piece of ginger.....maybe 4 apples, last time added 2 broccoli stems tasted real good. - 9/29/2012   2:12:50 PM
  • PREACHER1002
    114
    Pickled beets are the BEST. I eat them in all salads and sometimes just out of the jar. And yes, I drink the juice too. Always feel a little weird drinking pickled beet juice, but my body seems to crave it. - 4/5/2011   11:36:00 AM
  • 113
    I love eating "canned" beats, but I wouldn't buy juice. - 1/13/2010   11:41:08 PM
  • 112
    We have ate beets since I was a little girl. We put some corn starch in cold juice and add it to the beets then add some vinagar to it for some sweetness. It tastes really good. I don't buy them enough but when I see them on a table I always help myself. - 11/10/2009   8:23:35 AM
  • 111
    Interesting article. I have a juicer and friend have told me they like to juice up beets in combination with carrots or apples as well as greens (the apples & carrots add some "sweet" to it). Seems like one of the Fat Flush books was for beets, supposed to help with the liver etc.? I know the plain canned beets taste awful flat but I just simmered it on the stove with some Stevia and a little dab of arrowroot powder to thicken the juice, and some ghee or pure unhydrogenated coconut oil and it is a mighty tasty dish. - 8/25/2009   1:44:46 PM
  • 110
    What's old is new again? Beets were cool for my grandparents and are a good memory I've forgotten about.

    My naturopath gave me a juicing recipe for beets for kidney health, so this stands to reason the blood pressure connection. The greens are more nutritious than the root, so toss 'em in with the beets if you're juicing. Too much juice could exacerbate oxalate kidney stones though: http://www.juicing-for-health.com/b
    eets.html
    .

    Thanks for the article and comments - I learned something from both! - 8/25/2009   1:56:01 AM
  • FLUFFY_KITTY
    109
    No way I shall have 'em on my table. I don't care how great they are or how they have helped us. I prefer spinach! - 8/25/2009   12:07:07 AM
  • 108
    SWEET__CAROLINE, thanks for the very helpful explanation about nitrates and nitrites and all that! I'd wondered about it in the past but never bothered to research it. (Such as many months ago when I read this same news at the BBC web site.)

    I get beets almost every week in the summer, from my farm share. Sadly, they are not one of my favorites, although I'm trying to find recipes to incorporate them. Not sure I could take the juice straight, though. One thing I made many years ago - a chocolate cake recipe from the Moosewood Cafe that incorporated beets - it was surprisingly good! - 8/24/2009   9:58:54 PM
  • 107
    For TuesdayMae and others confused about nitrAtes and nitrites: I wanted to comment on the conversion from nitrAtes to nitrites in vegetables. When nitrAtes are broken down in the digestive system, it turns into endogenous nitrites, no matter the source. It's usually nitrites that we think of when it comes to the relation of processed foods and carcinogens. Nitrites are added to processed foods such as meats and some cereals and soups at levels we are told are safe. Generally nitrAtes are present in very small amounts in plants and vegetables. To make better sense of this, nitrites and nitrAtes added to foods are usually called exogenous nitrAtes and nitrites, and foods such as some plants and vegetables that have nitrAtes occurring naturally are endogenous.

    Because many vegetables contain vitamin C, some even with a huge amount of vitamin C (such as beets), eating your vegis is very safe. Vitamin C is known now as a cancer fighter. It acts like an inhibitor of endogenous nitrosation, which can be formed in the body from endogenous nitrites. Hence, plant and vegetable food rich in Vitamin C results in less endogenous formation of N-nitrosation, and thus, reducing the risks of certain cancers.

    So this doesn't mean to stop eating your vegis. NitrAtes and nitrites are even found in small quantities in water and grain. And bolonga and other processed meats do not contain vitamin C. So remember to eat your vegis!
    - 8/24/2009   3:22:44 PM
  • 106
    Just Beet IT (beet it beet it), Beet IT (beet it beet it) -- guitar solo here.

    I LOVE BEETS. Many people dislike them, but I can eat them all up. You know why? My mom told me when I was little that if I ate my beets, my cheeks would get nice and rosey. So I ate lots of them.

    I haven't done so much in my adult years as I prefer to get them fresh, and in Arizona, you barely find beets at the market. I generally avoid anything that is canned, unless it's occasional fruit. But with this news, I will look harder to find fresh beets and look for my Grandmother's old Russian recipes. :) - 8/24/2009   1:20:01 PM
  • 105
    Wait, I'm confused Nitrates in vegetables is good, but nitrates in lunchmeat is bad? Aren't nitrates the same no matter what food they are in? - 8/24/2009   10:43:52 AM
  • 104
    I love sliced beets, what does pickled beets taste like. I grabbed a can instead of regular beets - 8/23/2009   9:38:54 PM
  • 103
    I haven't seen beet juice yet. I'm sure it will start to turn up. I just don't think I'd be able to drink beet juice. I have an aversion to beets.

    I have been reading about Greek Style Yogurt and had even bought some at the Grocery Outlet Store without even realizing it was the new "in" yogurt. I've read about it on spark and in magazines and Dr. Oz recommends it. - 8/23/2009   9:13:42 PM
  • 102
    Very interesting. I've eaten beets but never really heard anything about beet juice. Maybe I'll give it a try. - 8/23/2009   5:07:31 PM
  • 101
    I throw a beet into my juicer along with 5 carrots and two green apples. It makes a wonderful juice that serves two 10 oz glasses. It really tastes great, even a little sweet. But you do have to purchase a juicer about $100.00. - 8/23/2009   4:20:53 PM
  • 100
    Very interesting and well-researched article Tanya. Thank you.

    - 8/23/2009   11:29:21 AM
  • 99
    All, I can say to this one, is WHAT NEXT?????? My word....I am SORRY but I will NOT be adding BEET JUICE to what I eat. NO NO NO....UG, I would have to say this is so much WORSE sounding that PRUNE JUICE. And I just can't abide drinking that either! I am glad this does mention the fact that eating fruit and vegetables in combo is KNOWN to be GOOD for you!! HEY tell me something I DON'T know!!! GREAT article! - 8/23/2009   8:44:13 AM
  • NPAUL929
    98
    I have heard of beets being good for a person but as for the beet juice being a super food, I think the article says it best, "... be aware of the potential for marketing hype ..." - 8/23/2009   3:31:47 AM
  • SDLOOP
    97
    I wouldn't mind having beet juice, I'm certainly ok with cooked beets. But to have to get the juice out of them raw, requiring investment in some electrical gadget is a bit off-putting. - 8/23/2009   1:00:37 AM
  • 96
    I have always enjoyed beets but U must say I don't recall ever eating them raw. Certainly something to try. as for the juice...I would try it. what could be bad? - 8/22/2009   3:48:41 PM
  • MY3NINOS
    95
    I am learning something new today, my grandma cook them and made them with vinegar, carrots, peas, green beans and they tasted delicious. So if I have them as a drink I guess it would taste alright. - 8/22/2009   2:06:17 PM
  • 94
    I have not heard of this new super food craze with the juice. The funny thing is I had just recently read up on the nutritional benefits of beets because I had been a beet craze.
    I love them now after HATE Hate hating them. I was one those kids forced to eat them because my parents love them. To me they tasted like mud and no amount of ranch dressing or pickling could hide that. If even the tiniest one was in juice or broth, I tasted that "mud" ruining the whole thing.
    Something happened while I was pregnant. I picked up a can for my husband and I was determined to give them a try, not wanting to pass along my distaste to my baby. I ended up loving them and drinking the juice! I think I am getting a hankering now... - 8/22/2009   11:00:13 AM
  • 93
    I love beets...eat them quite often...and have juiced them, with apple and celery. Yummy. Highly nutritious. - 8/22/2009   10:56:18 AM
  • 92
    In Estonia, we have a nice little company, which produces organic juices and smoothies and they also produce beet juice. I've never tried it though, but I guess I will do it soon. About a month ago, I tried a weird recipe: chocolate cake with beet. 2 boiled and grated beets were inside it among with chocolate and other 'normal' cake ingredients. Some people who tried it, couldn't guess that beet was inside. The cake was nicely juicy and tasty and a bit red (: - 8/22/2009   4:59:27 AM
  • 91
    As a child I was forced to eat beets. I spent many hours at the dinner table until I would finish those ugly red things.
    Since I have been on my own for the past 40 yrs, I do not even allow beets in my house.
    My problem with beets is their horrible red color, yes this is my phobia. I can handle blood just fine.
    Beets might be the next super food, but they won't be included in my diet...EVER....soild or liquid form, it just isn't going to happen. - 8/21/2009   11:30:55 PM
  • 90
    I gave my hubby a juicer for father's day, but I swear I've been juicing everything including the beets. I juice it with celery and I love it but I'm a little weird - 8/21/2009   7:27:41 PM
  • 89
    I remember as a little girl, my grandmama would force us to drink the juice. It was awful. So much that I would not try it again now, even if it's a super food - 8/21/2009   6:41:55 PM
  • 88
    hmmmm, my sister mentioned something about it a few years ago. I have yet to try it. Now that I'm more health conscience I think I'll be looking for some to try. - 8/21/2009   6:35:18 PM
  • 87
    I adore beets, but eating them turns my urine red (kind of scary).
    I can't imagine drinking 2 cups of beet juice (or any other juice for that matter) each day. - 8/21/2009   6:16:21 PM
  • 86
    I knew I was doing something right!! One of the only things that has helped me feel better and increase my energy is my juice! I have suffered from fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, hypothyroidism, and adrenal fatigue for almost 2 years. Hit me out of no where. I take spells where I drink my juice made of beets, celery, spinach, red/yellow bell peppers, cucumbers, carrots, and apples. Tastes surprising good and makes me feel good. In fact, seriously, I am on my way down stairs for a glass right now. Very timely article. - 8/21/2009   5:17:30 PM
  • 85
    Oooh! So Tim Robbins was definitely onto something when he wrote Jitterbug Perfume! (There have also been a couple other health/ longevity - related points he brings up in that novel that have been validated!).

    With beet juice, I've heard it's best to use a juicer and make it yourself, but in order to enjoy all the benefits offered, it should be drank within an hour or less. - 8/21/2009   4:20:40 PM
  • 84
    I love Spark. Thanks for the infor, and the declaimers- yes, yes, eat lots of fruits and vegies! Yes, yes, don't look for the one, the only, the tippyity top best and only, eat lots of fruits and vegies.
    Beets are totally yummy.
    Of course, that dab of sour cream adds so much. - 8/21/2009   2:49:12 PM
  • 83
    "Super foods" are fads. Usually they are something that has always been good for you. But someone (or a few someones) make a big deal about it and everyone runs out and buys it up like it's the fountain of youth. I don't get involved. These foods are just getting way too much attention. The other foods are still just as good for you. And keeping things balanced is really what anyone should focus on. That's my opinion. And I plan to keep focus on keeping thing balanced.

    Any of these "super foods" if they are taken too much, is still too much. That is what worries me about all the attention. Some times people think if a little is good, overdosing is better. I'd like to see people think for themselves instead of going crazy because someone says a food is going to do _____ for you. Just eat sensibly. - 8/21/2009   1:30:37 PM
  • 82
    I wouldn't doubt that beet juice and beets in general have health benefits. I come from Polish stock and a winter stable was borscht, which is a form of beet soup. My relatives never seemed to have the heath issues or winter colds that other folks would pick up on.

    Still, I'm wary of drinking the raw product. It tastes pretty foul. - 8/21/2009   12:25:46 PM
  • 81
    This is the first I have heard of drinking beet juice, but the article states that "conversion to nitrites ... can decrease the ability of the blood to transport oxygen" and I am confused how this chemical reaction can increase stamina. Do babies metabolize nitrites differently from adults?

    I love beets and beet greens but did not think to eat them raw until reading an earlier article in SparkPeople. I now eat them raw in salads and will continue to do so until more is known about drinking 2 cups/day of beet juice. Thanks for this article!! - 8/21/2009   12:00:53 PM
  • OMRIS99
    80
    Beets have always been one of my favorite things to toss in my juicer. Bright, sweet, and VERY tasty. There is something about foods that intensely colored that just seems healthier. - 8/21/2009   11:56:05 AM
  • 79
    Well clearly this is going to revolutionize things at Schrute Farms. :) - 8/21/2009   11:29:21 AM
  • 78
    Indeed I have drank beet juice, years ago that I cooked down & processed myself- it was for a 'cleansing' diet.... also have made beet jelly..... have known for years beets were good for you, but they are best fresh processed yourself ( hot or cold for your meals - or pickled) much better than canned! Makes me wanna go buy some at the 'farmers market' this week end.... maybe I'll buy a BUNCH and have purple hands for a while (much to the delight of the grand kids!)Think I'll stick to the whole beet :-) maybe have juice once a month... don't wanna be too 'clean' lol! - 8/21/2009   11:07:51 AM
  • 77
    I've always liked beets and pickle them from time to time. I've heard before of people drinking beet juice and that it's good for you. I'd give it a try but can't imagine it would have much flavor. - 8/21/2009   11:04:29 AM
  • 76
    I've heard for years that beets are good for you (mostly from my former mother-in-law) and I think I read the same article about beet juice increasing stamina. I've also been drinking V-8 for years, which has beet juice in it. In the past, I have cooked my own beets and eaten them from cans, both plain and pickled. They are really good on salads. The only thing I've never hear before is to eat them raw - I wasn't sure that was safe. - 8/21/2009   10:35:33 AM
  • BANCHATEAGIRL
    75
    I love beets! I ate borscht growing up (grandparents from Europe), so I am thrilled to see one of my fave veggies in style! - 8/21/2009   10:03:11 AM
  • 74
    I love beets in any form, but I don't think I ever actually drank beet juice. I guess I would try it off beets that I cooked but won't run right out to buy it. Will continue to eat all the fresh veggie I can and forgo the hype.
    - 8/21/2009   9:24:42 AM
  • 73
    My grandparents used to serve pickled beets and I would eat those, but never did care for fresh beets. I've tried! - 8/21/2009   9:13:59 AM
  • PADRAIGHA
    72
    Beets, not beet Juice, will always be found on a Swedish smorgasbord. If they are not, you might hear one Swede quietly comment to another, "It was a good meal, but there were no beets . . . "
    Seems like juice ought to be taken with the whole fruit or vegetable, sort of a package deal, the way it was created. - 8/21/2009   8:55:55 AM
  • 71
    Love beets (must be my Russian genes) and their greens. Would rather eat them than drink the juice, though. Everything in moderation.... Remember when wheat grass juice was so popular? Where did that go? The way of most things that people do to excess then get tired of it or discover that it's not so good for you in large quantities? - 8/21/2009   8:35:16 AM
  • DEDEVYV
    70
    I haven't heard of it before this, but when I was younger I loved borscht (basically beet juice with some pieces of beets in it) with sour cream. I intend to start eating it again, but this time with Greek yogurt. It certainly can't hurt! - 8/21/2009   8:18:30 AM

Please Log In To Leave A Comment:    Log in now ›


Join SparkPeople.com

x Lose 10 Pounds by December 11! Get a FREE Personalized Plan