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Beetroot has been gaining in popularity as a superfood. Recent studies claim that beets and beetroot juice can improve athletic performance, reduce blood pressure, and increase blood flow.

So much so that an increasing number of juices and drinks are now incorporating this nutritious food.

Beetroot comes from the same family as sugar beets. However, it is genetically and nutritionally different. Sugar beets are white, and manufacturers tend to use them for extracting sugar and sweetening processed foods. It is not possible to extract sugar from beetroot, which is mostly red or gold.

This article is part of a collection of articles on the health benefits of popular foods. In this article, we look at the powerful health benefits of beetroot and its dense nutritional content.

Beetroot provides a wide range of possible health benefits, such as reducing blood pressure, improving digestion, and lowering the risk of diabetes.

The sections below discuss these potential benefits in more detail.

Heart health and blood pressure

raw beetroot on a wooden surface. Share on Pinterest
Beetroot may help reduce blood pressure.

A 2015 study of 68 people with high blood pressure examined the effects of drinking 250 milliliters of beetroot juice every day.

The researchers found that doing so significantly lowered blood pressure after ingestion.

They suggest that this antihypertensive effect was due to the high levels of nitrate in the beet juice. They recommend consuming high nitrate vegetables as an effective, low cost way to help treat high blood pressure.

However, people should never stop taking a prescribed blood pressure medication without first talking to a doctor.

High blood pressure is a primary risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD). Reducing it by making dietary changes and through other means can help prevent heart failure, stroke, heart attacks, and other life threatening complications of CVD.

Diabetes

Beets contain an antioxidant called alpha-lipoic acid. This compound may help lower glucose levels and increase insulin sensitivity.

A 2019 review of studies looked at the effects of alpha-lipoic acid on the symptoms of diabetic neuropathy. The researchers found that oral and intravenous administration of alpha-lipoic acid supplements led to a decrease in symptoms of peripheral and autonomic neuropathy in people with diabetes.

However, most of the doses in these studies were far higher than those that are available in beetroot. The effects of smaller dietary doses are not yet clear from the available research.

Here, learn more about diabetes.

Digestion and regularity

One cup of beetroot provides 3.81 grams (g) of fiber. Consuming enough fiber is essential for smooth digestion and gut health.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), a single cup of beets can provide more than 8.81% of a person's daily requirement of fiber, depending on their age and sex.

Including beetroot in the diet is one way that a person can increase their fiber intake.

Exercise and athletic performance

Some studies have found that beetroot juice supplementation can improve the amount of oxygen that muscles absorb during exercise. One 2019 study found that high doses of beetroot juice improved the time trial results of experienced cyclists.

A different study from the same year examined 12 recreationally active female volunteers. However, the researchers did not find that beetroot juice supplementation improved the participants' athletic performance.

Therefore, further research is necessary to confirm the benefits of beetroot on exercise performance.

Cancer prevention

A 2019 review of studies found that certain compounds in beets can disrupt the cancerous mutations of cells. Such compounds include betalains, which are pigments that give beets their red and yellow color.

Although further research is necessary before health professionals can recommend beets as a replacement for other standard cancer risk reduction methods, they may have some function in reducing the risk of this condition.

One cup of raw beets provides:

Beetroot can also add the following vitamins and minerals to a person's diet. The percentages are from the USDA's 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines.

NutrientPercentage of an adult's daily requirement
Vitamin C7.4%
Vitamin A0.3% for males, and 0.39% for females
Folate37%
Magnesium7.83% for males, and 10.97% for females
Phosphorus7.77%

Beets also contain small amounts of:

Green, leafy vegetables such as beet tops provide high levels of dietary nitrate. Cooked beet tops are a great source of iron, vitamin C, vitamin A, magnesium, potassium, and folate.

Learn about the research on beetroot juice and blood pressure.

People can roast, steam, boil, or pickle beets. They can also eat them raw.

The following tips can help people gain the nutritional benefits of beets in tasty ways:

  • Make beetroot juice by peeling beetroot and blending it with a combination of fresh orange, mint, pineapple or apples, lemon, and ginger. People can strain it afterward for a smoother texture. Remember that adding other juices or fruits could increase the sugar content of the juice.
  • Grate or slice raw beets and add them to coleslaw or a salad.
  • Top roasted beets with goat's cheese for a flavorful pairing.
  • Slice raw beets and serve them with lemon juice and a sprinkle of chili powder.

When choosing a beetroot, make sure that it is heavy for its size and does not have signs of surface damage. If a beet still has its green tops, they should look fresh and not wilted. These are also edible and have significant nutritional value.

To store beets for several days, refrigerate them in a tightly sealed bag.

Drinking beetroot juice can lead to red, purple, or pink urine or stools. Although this may seem alarming, it should not be a cause for medical concern. Doctors refer to this as "beeturia."

People prone to oxalate-type kidney stones should be careful not to consume too much of the beet tops.

Also, those with gastrointestinal issues or irritable bowel syndrome may experience stomach upset after consuming beetroot juice.

Beets are very nutritious. However, people should consider their overall eating pattern when looking at the effects of their diet on health. For good health, it is better to eat a diet that includes a wide range of food and nutrients.

Shop for beet products

A range of beetroot and beetroot juice products are available online.

Learn about several other fruits and vegetables here.

Q:

Is beetroot more nutritious in juice form?

A:

Beetroot juice contains no fiber and 0% of the daily recommend amount of vitamin C. Raw beets have a bit more vitamin C and fiber.

Cooked beet tops are the real nutritional powerhouse in comparison.

Kathy W. Warwick, RD, CDE Answers represent the opinions of our medical experts. All content is strictly informational and should not be considered medical advice.