Beet juice for heart health, lower blood pressure, improved brain function, more energy and enhanced endurance? Yes, according to scientists! The various research studies into all the possible health benefits of beetroot juice are juicy enough to convince me that more of my recipes should have beets in them! For instance, check out my Quick Energy Boosting Beetroot Juice Recipe further down.
It is quite amazing that these common, down-to-earth veggies can be such a treasure trove of nutritional goodness. An additional bonus is that there is more and more scientific research showing that juicing can really have measurable health benefits. While follow-up, longer term studies still need to be done, the indication is that there are powerful health benefits in a glass of rich red beet juice.
How To Juice A Beet
Beetroot Juice Side Effects
- Keep in mind that beetroot juice is quite potent. So, don't start off with a glass of pure beet juice! Take things slowly, perhaps only 1/4 of your glass filled with beet juice at first. Dilute it with other veggies and fruit, while you get used to it.
- Folks with kidney stones, gallbladder problems and certain other ailments may have to avoid beets and their greens, so check with your doctor first before juicing beetroot. This is particularly important if you are on a low-oxalate diet to prevent oxalate-type kidney stones. It is always safer to talk to your health practitioner before you start a juicing program, if you have any kind of ailment.
- Don't take your nutrition supplements or other medication with your freshly prepared juice. Take these with water or as prescribed an hour or two before or after drinking your juice to ensure that absorption isn't affected. If you are on medication, avoid using grapefruit in your juice recipes.
- Eating beetroot or drinking beet juice may sometimes turn your stool and/or urine pink or red. It is not permanent or harmful at all, so you don't need to be concerned about it. However, it may be a good idea to mention this to your doctor, so that he or she can make sure that your metabolism of iron is as it should be.
- Look for firm beets with the richest coloring and no blemishes or soft spots.
- Wash the beets carefully in your preferred veggie wash. Do this even if you are preparing organic beetroot juice.
- Folks who are new to juicing, usually prefer to discard the beetroot leaves. They can give the juice a strong flavor you may not like.
- Young beets can be juiced with their peel, if you prefer this. Most folks probably peel beets for juicing.
- Cut the beets into 4 or 6 pieces, depending on their size. Smaller beets may be a bit softer and more gentle on your machine.
- Juice, alternating them with other ingredients for the best results.
Valuable nutrients in beetroot
- Lutein (mainly in yellow beet)
- Zeaxanthin (mainly in beet greens)
- Vitamin C
- Amino acids
All this at a measly 37 calories per 100g of beetroot (one smallish beet)!
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12 Possible Health Benefits Of Beetroot Juice
- Boosting stamina and making exercise less tiring
- Lowering blood pressure
- Improving cardiovascular health
- Improving digestion
- Helping with iron absorption
- Aiding liver function
- Restoring strength during convalescence
- Acting as a blood cleanser
- Giving relief from constipation
- Reducing homocysteine levels
- Reducing inflammation
- Lifting your mood
Research Into The Health Benefits Of Beetroot Juice
Your body's most noted nutritional allies are found in the betalains and nitrate in beetroot.
Betalains are responsible for the rich red and yellow coloring of beetroot. They have a crucial antioxidant role to play in your body. Betalains can help to lower inflammation, may prevent certain cancers and can also aid in removing toxins from your system.
Together with folate, betalains could also help to lower your homocysteine level, which is crucial for improving cardiovascular health.
The nitrate in beetroot is converted into nitrite, which in turn is converted into powerful nitric oxide. Nitric oxide has been shown to help to relax blood vessels, among other things.
You may now be asking, 'But aren't nitrites the 'bad' guys in things like processed foods and cured meat, to be avoided at all costs?' Yes, you are right. It is not that the nitrites are bad in themselves, but they can lead to the formation of nitrosamines in things like cured meats. And nitrosamines can cause cancer.
However, certain phytonutrients such as vitamin C prevent the formation of nitrosamines. And these phytonutrients are plentiful in fruits and vegetables. So, generally speaking nitrites resulting from your intake of nitrate-rich fresh produce, won't present a problem and have a different outcome.
1. The Nitrate In Beetroot Juice May Help To Lower Blood Pressure
Various research studies are finding that beetroot juice could help with hypertension. Although it is still early days for researchers, results are extremely promising and encouraging.
Amrita Ahluwalia, professor of Vascular Biology at Queen Mary's William Harvey Research Institute, was lead author in a study in which volunteers had either beet juice or nitrate capsules. A significant drop in blood pressure was recorded. The results of their study has been published in the American Heart Association journal Hypertension.
Leah T Coles and Peter M Clifton reported on their trial in the Nutrition Journal. 15 Women and 15 men took part in the study in which they used a combination of beet and apple juice. They were able to demonstrate the blood pressure lowering effect of the juice.
2. Beet Juice Can Have A Positive Effect On Workout Performance
Want to have the ability to exercise for up to 16% longer? Researchers at the University of Exeter have found that this is quite possible, with a little help from beetroot juice! In fact, the results are so encouraging that it may even be shown to help folks whose quality of life is affected by heart or lung troubles, or elderly people who find that aging is affecting their functioning.
This is because the beetroot juice acts as a vasodilator and increase blood flow on the one hand, but in the process it also helps your muscles to require or use less oxygen during both low and high intensity activity. So, you may either find that you can exercise at your old pace for a longer period or perhaps discover that you are able to perform at a higher intensity not previously possible.
The results of the work of Professor Andy Jones, Katie Lansley and their colleagues in the Exeter study has been published in the Journal of Applied Physiology. While studies on the older population still has to follow, there is no reason to believe that the impressive results seen in young athletes, can't be duplicated in the elderly.
While beetroot juice has been demonstrated to help with lowering blood pressure and improving blood flow in general, Daniel Kim-Shapiro, Gary Miller and their research colleagues at Wake Forest University have now also shown for the first time that the intake of beetroot juice can increase blood flow to the brain.
This is news that holds much promise for older folk keen on protecting brain function and putting the brakes on degenerative conditions such as dementia. Many age-related conditions related to brain function, develop partly as a result of a decrease in blood flow.
This research is just a first step. Who knows what future studies may bring to light in this regard.
This is the question dr. Cheryl Bushnell, associate professor at Wake Forest Baptist Health and director of the Stroke Center has been asking. Since seeing the studies relating to the effect of beetroot juice on blood pressure and blood flow to the brain, she has been looking into how this may improve matters for folks recovering after a stroke.
Her study will stretch over a period of 2 years and will track 80 patients. Since beetroot juice can increase nitric oxide levels and nitric oxide in turn can promote the growth of new blood vessels, intake of the juice may result in a better outcome for stroke patients. It will be interesting to follow the results of her work as it unfolds.
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