Did You Know…the “root” of heart health may be this blood-red vegetable?
Recent research shows that beet juice (also called beetroot juice) is one of the richest dietary sources of nitrates. The body transforms nitrates into nitric oxide, a crucial compound that optimizes blood flow to the brain… heart… muscles… and more.
So while this root vegetable may not receive the press coverage devoted to perennial favorites like salmon and blueberries, emerging studies indicate it deserves a top spot on any list of super foods.
“We are starting to unravel the intriguing health benefits of beet juice,” said Gary Miller, Ph.D., a researcher at Wake Forest University. The impact of dietary nitrates on blood flow and blood pressure is a primary factor spurring scientific interest in beet juice, Miller said.
Better Blood Flow, Stronger Muscles, and Boosted Stamina
Aided by a colleague from Wake Forest, Miller proved that beet juice improves blood flow to the brain. Miller used an MRI to measure blood flow in healthy elderly people before and after adding beet juice to their diet.
Beet juice also improves blood flow throughout the body. “Foods high in nitrates are healthy foods,” commented Miller, and supplementing with beet juice “might improve… blood flow to key tissues like skeletal muscles.”
This is especially important to consider as you age, he said. Increased blood flow improves muscle strength. The stronger your muscles, the lower your odds of suffering from falls… fractures… and impairments associated with muscle weakness.
Natural Blood Pressure Control and Better Heart Health
Beet juice can also prevent another health concern often linked to aging. It’s not news that a diet loaded with fruits and vegetables helps to ensure heart health and lower blood pressure, but it seems that beet juice may be especially effective.
Studies have shown that, for otherwise healthy adults, drinking two cups of beet juice each day can reduce blood pressure. This makes beet juice a promising natural method for decreasing your risk of heart disease.
If you don’t have blood pressure concerns, you may be interested in supplementing with beet juice for different reasons. Researchers have found that beet juice boosts stamina. Participants in a study on the effects of beet juice on the body during exercise had enhanced physical performance as well as improved heart functioning during exercise—and that was after just 6 days!
A 2009 study indicated that beet juice’s stamina boost is another result generated by its high nitrate content. Nitrates reduce oxygen uptake, as a result, exercise is less tiring. Study participants were able to exercise 16% longer after adding beetroot juice to their daily diet.
How to Add Beet Juice to Your Diet (Even if You Hate the Taste)
While nitrates have drawn the bulk of the attention so far, beet juice is wonderful source of a variety of nutrients, including…
According to Marjorie Nolan, MS, RD, spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, cooked beets don’t deliver the same nutrient-filled effects that beet juice does. Eating beets will certainly benefit your health, she noted, but because the cooking process deteriorates the nitrates, it will not have as dramatic an effect as drinking the juice.
Beet juice is available at most specialty health stores. A 16-ounce bottle should be available for under 10 dollars. The juice has a distinctive, earthy flavor that some appreciate, but others find off-putting. If you fall in the latter group, Nolan advises blending the juice with other juices—think apple and orange, for example—to balance the flavor.