Beetroots have been used to treat different ailments for centuries. The romans used the roots for medicinal purposes such as treating indigestion.
In recent years there have been a lot of research done on beetroot juice and its possible blood pressure lowering effects, performance enhancing capabilities and brain boosting abilities!
One food that’s been studies a lot in recent years is beetroot, or to be more precise, beetroot. It’s been shown to lower blood pressure, improve athletic performance and also have a positive effect on cognitive health.
The beneficial effects of beetroots are believed to be due to their high concentration of nitrates.
When consuming food containing nitrates such as beetroots, the nitrates are transformed to nitrites and finally into nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is the compound that’s been prescribed the powerful beneficial effects on the body.
Beetroot Juice Benefits
- Beetroot Juice and Blood Pressure – Consuming nitrate rich food such as beetroot juice and leafy greens can lower blood pressure! It’s believed that the dietary nitrates found in beetroots can widen the blood vessels and thus reduce blood pressure. Other good sources of nitrates are leafy greens (e.g. kale, rocket and spinach). These are good to include in your diet anyways as they’re packed with nutrients!
- Athletic Performance – Supplementing with beetroot juice is popular among endurance athletes as it may improve performance. It’s believed that beetroot juice improves the blood flow in the body, makes oxygen utilisation more efficient and may improve power output. although it’s not established if beetroot juice actually improves athletic performance, as there are conflicting results from various studies. There may also be individual differences in the response to supplementing with beetroot juice and nitrates.
- Boost cognitive function – Consuming foods rich in nitrates such as beetroot juice and leafy greens (kale, rocket, spinach) may improve cognitive function! A shot of beetroot juice in combination with exercise was shown to improve brain function among elderly! Another study showed that beetroot juice, in combination with exercise, improved cognitive function.
The link between oral bacteria and the metabolism of nitrates
Did you know that bacterias in your mouth plays a big role in the metabolism of nitrate in your body?
What happens is that when consuming nitrate rich foods such as beetroot juice, nitrates are absorbed in the small intestine and then transported to blood plasma. Once the nitrates are in the blood plasma, the salivary glands will absorb the nitrates and release them into the mouth. Bacterias in the mouth will reduce the nitrate into nitrite, which is released into the saliva. When the saliva is swallowed, the acidic environment in the stomach will reduce some of the nitrite to nitric oxide. And when nitric oxide is absorbed into the blood vessels it will cause them to relax.
One study showed that by using antibacterial mouthwash can eradicate the bacterias needed for the conversion of nitrates and thus hinder the effects of nitrate.
Another study showed that spitting during and 3 h after drinking 500 ml beetroot juice can reduce the amounts of nitrite in plasma and also didn’t lower blood pressure compared to those that drank the juice without spitting, which supports the link between oral bacteria and the metabolism of nitrate in the body.
More Beetroot Juice Benefits
There is more beetroot juice benefits than just its nitrate content!
- Great source of folate – Folate is a B-vitamin that’s essential for the production of red blood cells. Folate is also a crucial for the production of new cells in the body and the synthesis of DNA. Women who plan to become pregnant are recommended to supplement with folate as to minimise the risk of neural tube defects.
- Anti-inflammatory – Betalain, the pigment found in beetroots, have shown to have anti-inflammatory capabilites and may help to protect the liver against inflammation
- Anti-oxidative properties – Studies have shown that the pigment betalain has strong antioxidant properties and can protect your cells against oxidative damage and prevent the development of disease.
Beetroot Juice Benefits- The verdict
Beetroot does seem to have promising health effects, with its blood lowering ability being the most established one. As for improving performance, there seem to be individual differences with some studies showing an effect from beetroot juice and others that don’t. Beetroot juice may also improve cognitive function.
The research is really interesting and looks promising, however, more research is needed before beetroot juice benefits can be fully established!
Like most vegetables, beetroots have both anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory capabilities and also provide a good dose of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients.
Beetroot Juice Recipe – How to
Making a beetroot juice is easy. First, you need to have a juicer and these days you can pick up a decent one for a good price. If your beetroots have little dirt on them, you may get away with just giving them a good scrub before juicing them otherwise you may have to peel them. Leaving the skin on will make the juice taste more earthy, so peel them for a less prominent earthy flavour.
If you find the beetroot too earthy, you can add a piece of fruit such as apple, lemon or orange to your juice. Here at NmC we like to add apple, lemon and ginger to our beetroot juice!
If you love beetroots, make sure you check out these recipes
- Beetroot Burger – A moreish veggie burger packed with flavour!
- Beet Pesto – Make this beetroot pesto next time you’re making a pesto! It’s a winner!
- Beetroot and Lentil Salad with Basil Avocado Dressing – A hearty, fresh and satisfying plant-based salad!
- Beetroot Soup – A earthy beetroot soup with garlicky chickpea croutons!
If you have any questions regarding beetroot juice benefits, leave a comment and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible!
Beetroot Juice Recipe
- 3 beetroots
- 1 apple
- 0.5 lemon (optional)
- knob of ginger (optional)
- Peel the beetroot if you wish.
- Place all ingredients in a juicer