The Truth About Beetroot Juice
Beetroot Juice Nutrition
Eating beets won’t give you the same quantity of nitrates as beet juice because the cooking process deteriorates some of the nitrates, but it certainly is good for your health, says American Dietetic Association spokeswoman Marjorie Nolan, MS, RD.
Beets are a great source of nutrition. They're rich in folate, potassium, vitamin C, fiber, antioxidants, and nitrates. The active ingredient in beet juice is an antioxidant called betanin.
One cup of raw beets has 35 calories and 8 grams of carbohydrates. A cup of beet juice is usually around 100 calories and 25 grams of carbohydrates because of added sugar.
Lots of fruits and vegetables are rich sources of antioxidants but not necessarily good sources of nitrates. In addition to beets, other good sources of dietary nitrates include spinach, radishes, lettuce, celery, and Chinese cabbage.
Nitrates are not routinely evaluated as part of a food's nutrient composition. Therefore, the nitrate quantity of foods may be difficult to find in most nutrient databases.
Who Should Drink Beetroot Juice?
From athletes to the elderly, the benefits of beet juice could result in improved blood flow and enhanced performance. Part of the ongoing research is designed to determine who would benefit most from more beet juice and nitrates. Miller and colleagues at Wake Forest showed that blood flow to the brain improved in healthy elderly people, as measured by MRI.
“Healthy individuals are not likely to see tremendous benefits if they start adding beet juice to their diets, but foods high in nitrates are healthy foods and it might improve blood pressure and blood flow to key tissues like skeletal muscles, especially as you get older,” Miller says.
Nolan says as little as one cup of beet juice has dramatic effects and may be a natural alternative to blood pressure medication for some people and just 2-3 ounces per day can be a natural approach to preventing constipation.
Increasing blood flow to muscles benefits athletes but could be a huge advantage in the elderly to help improve muscle strength which in turn will reduce falls, fractures, and impairment associated with muscle weakness, Miller says.
Finding Beetroot Juice
Available at specialty stores, a 16-ounce bottle costs about $7. It has a distinctive flavor, much like beets, and tastes a little earthy. Nolan recommends blending the juice to make it more palatable.
If you start adding beet juice to your diet be prepared for the potentially alarming side effects of drinking ruby red beet juice. The powerful red dye is excreted in urine and stools, giving both a reddish appearance.
Further research is needed before experts recommend drinking large quantities of beet juice each day. In the meantime, a diet rich in fruits and vegetables has been shown to be a potent weapon against disease.
Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD, is director of nutrition for WebMD. Her opinions and conclusions are her own.