Last Updated: April 5, 2011
What are the benefits of beet juice?
Many people are familiar with the red beetroot, but did you know that this common produce market vegetable contains some pretty potent nutritional components you might not know about?
The beetroot is a "superfood veggie" very beneficial for lowering blood pressure, increasing athletic performance, purifying the bloodstream, improving cardiovascular health and reducing inflammation in the body.
You can eat raw beets and there is also some nutrition in cooked beets, but it's actually the raw pressed beetroot juice (the extracted juiced liquid) that produces the greatest health enhancing effects.
When vegetables are juiced they are 10 times more nutrient-rich because their nutritive compounds are highly concentrated.
As a result, this bright red juice contains substantial amounts of antioxidants, naturally occurring nitrates, betaine and iron, all super healthy ingredients that beets are particularly high in.
Historically, beetroot was used as a folklore remedy for variety of conditions, including ulcers, anemia, hemorrhoids, bad breath, eye disorders and was known for its colon cleansing properties.
There is no food closer to the color of the blood than the juice of a beet! And, as it turns out, beets are an exceptionally great food for a healthy bloodstream.
According to a study published in the journal Current Hypertension Reports, dietary nitrate, in the form of beetroot juice "offers a potentially cheap and effective way to help reduce blood pressure in hypertensives." (*)
In other research, participants who consumed a daily cup of beet juice experienced an average 10-point decrease in their blood pressure levels over a 24 hour period. This sparked the new phrase in health headlines, "A cup of beet juice a day keeps the doctor away."
High blood pressure, directly linked to cardiovascular disease and strokes, affects more than 77 million adults in the U.S. The benefits of beet juice and its nitrate content could be an easy dietary adjunct for many Americans.
When some people hear the word "nitrate" they think of the chemical preservative "sodium nitrate", a known carcinogen, often found in hot dogs, bacon or lunch meat. Beets are naturally high in nitrates; however, these substances are quite different than synthetic nitrates. They are plant-based elements that have favorable, rather than harmful effects, when ingested.
In fact, the phyto-nitrates in beetroot juice when consumed are one of the known benefits of beet juice that plays a significant role in reducing and maintaining blood pressure levels.
Your body converts nitrate into nitric oxide in the blood which helps to "open up" the blood vessels and normalize blood flow.
There are other dietary nitrate-rich foods to consider as well as beet juice. Dietary nitrates are also abundant in green leafy vegetables, so you want to juice your beet greens as well as the root. In fact, mixing your green juicing veggies with beets is a great way to cut the sometimes intensely sweet, rooty flavor of the red "sugar" beet.
As we mentioned, for maximum benefits and therapeutic use it is best to
drink the juice rather than simply eat the beet itself. You simply get more
concentrated phytonutrients that can help to reduce hypertension and its
We advocate the use of beetroot juice to achieve this goal, along with a health promoting diet and exercise regimen. Beet juice often has an energizing effect on the body which may be helpful to get yourself to the gym or motivated to do a light cardio workout.
The nitrate content in beet juice has been shown to be very helpful for
athletes, allowing the body to recuperate better from physical
active by increasing the amount of oxygen and blood flow to the muscles,
heart and brain. This helps to also improve stamina, cardiovascular
endurance as well as enable faster recovery.
There are a number of studies regarding beet juice intake and athletic
performance. One of them was done by Dr. Andrew Jones, head of Sport
and Health Science at the University of Exeter in England, who
successfully demonstrated significant improvement in high-intensity
training with a group of sports rowing crew athletes. (*)
Another study conducted showed positive response to using varying amounts of beetroot juice within an exercise regime. It was concluded that, "These findings have important implications for the use of BR [beetroot] to enhance cardiovascular health and exercise performance in young adults."
Beets are especially rich in a micronutrient called betaine or trimethylglycine (TMG). Betaines are helpful for the elimination of toxins and the reduction of the amino acid homocysteine, linked to improved heart health.
Betaine has been documented by the University of Maryland to help in the decrease of high homocysteine levels. High amounts of homocysteine can damage red blood vessels, causing strokes, blood clots atherosclerosis and heart disease.
Betaine functions very closely with the group of "methyl donors" choline, vitamin B12, folic acid and the amino acid methionine.
A methyl donor is simply any substance that can transfer a methyl group, a carbon atom attached to 3 hydrogen atoms, to another substance.
"Many important biochemical processes rely on methylation, including the metabolism of lipids and DNA. Scientists suspect that adequate methylation of DNA can prevent the expression of harmful genes, such as cancer genes. It’s quite likely that our body’s ability to methylate declines with age, contributing to the aging process, and therefore supplementation could well be beneficial." Ray Sahelian, M.D
According to the National Cancer Institute, methyl donors have been linked to decreased risk of breast, colon and pancreatic cancer. Studies published by the American Journal of Epidemiology and the American Journal of Nutrition suggest a diet rich in these micronutrients may help you avoid cancer plus many other health problems.
The pigment betacyanin, a type of betalain, is one of the well-known benefits of beet juice and is what helps give beets their deep red color. It is actually this antioxidant that acts as a primary cancer fighting agent shown to be particularly successful at preventing colon cancers.
Likewise, beetroot juice naturally increases the quantity of CD8 cells present in the colon. These cells are known to protect against and destroy cancerous growths.
Dr. Mikhail Tomback, a Russian longevity scholar, concluded that the benefits of beet juice do indeed seem to prevent diseases of the digestive system and large intestine specifically. He also found in his studies that beets helped to break up calcified stones in the bladder and kidneys.
It was discovered in the 1950's, by a Hungarian doctor named Dr. Ferenczi, that a quart of juice a day as therapy for his cancer patients, efficiently eradicated cancerous tumors much the same way they dissolved kidney stones.
One of the major benefits of beet juice is that it contains the mentioned group of powerful antioxidant pigments called betalains. These are components that help to boost the immune system, but also act as anti-inflammatory's, antifungal's and detoxification aids.
The betalains in raw beet juice are one of the best blood purifiers; cleansing to the bloodstream and helping the liver do its job more effectively. We recommend juicing beets during a yearly or bi-yearly juice cleanse or juice fast to help detoxify and rebuild healthy blood cells.
We are all exposed to toxins in our everyday environment, the benefits of beet juice can greatly assist in the process of detoxification from harmful pollutants, heavy metals and chemicals in the air we breathe, the food we eat and the water we drink.
Beetroot juice, along with schizandra and milk thistle seed, can be especially supportive for those with hepatitis or stagnation in the liver organ.
Beets, and especially the juice from beets, also helps to detoxify the body via an increase in glutathione production. Glutathione is a master molecule that binds with toxins and pollutants that enter the bloodstream and eliminates them through the bowels.
The juice is also helpful in reducing the bad cholesterol and triglycerides, which restrict blood flow and movement around the body. It is also known to substantially increase HDL (the good cholesterol). All of these factors help to protect against arteriosclerosis and heart disease.
Because of the high amounts of iron in beets, eating or drinking their juice helps to replenish this nutrient. People with low amounts of iron often feel their energy levels heighten with the benefits of beet juice, which helps to prevent anemia. Many women tend to crave beets during menstruation to help replenish the iron levels lost through bleeding.
The iron molecule is an important component of hemoglobin and is what binds to oxygen. If we have adequate amounts of iron in the bloodstream, the air we breathe can be efficiently transported throughout the body.
Raw beets contain the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin which are extremely beneficial for the retina of the eye and assist in protecting the skin.
Beets can be juiced, of course, in a juicer, but they can also be
blended in a blender and squeezed through a nut milk bag or fine mesh
strainer. Be aware that the juice is like a natural dye and can stain
chopping boards or kitchen appliances if not immediately washed in hot
It is ALWAYS best to make your own beet juice as opposed to buying it pre-made. Fresh juice is packed with enzymes and all the micronutrients you want to consume, no packaged product really compares in our opinion.
The most nutritious beets for juicing are small to medium in size and still have the roots and greens attached.
Therapeutic Dose: 1 to 2 Cups - Per Day
We don't really mind drinking straight beet juice and love the flavor. But, because it is quite sweet and earthy tasting, some people don't prefer to drink it straight and really there is no reason why you have to. You can combine the liquid in many juicing recipes that taste quite delicious.
We have a nice beet juice recipe that we will share below. It is a wonderful blend that we stumbled across one-day while doing a one day juice fast.
Other options, of course, include using quality beet juice powders that cold-temperature processed. These can be added to water for an instant "beet juice" or can be blended into drinks or smoothies.
Beet juice powder is also available in capsule form.
We use a little habanero to spice this juice up a bit. Hot spices are good for opening up the system and delivering the nutrients. As an alternative you can use ginger instead.
Beets loose their health benefits significantly when cooked or
steamed. Juicing the raw beet root is the best way to get the highest health benefits.
Eating raw beets is also recommended, although not nearly as concentrated. The quantity of beets and fiber you would have to consume to get the same benefits of beet juice far exceed any small amount of beets you could eat in one serving.
They are still great to include on salads or in various raw food recipes. One of our favorite side salads is grated carrot, grated beet root and chopped parsley.