Red Beet Juice Power

September 23, 2011 Written by JP       [Font too small?]

In the field of athletics, the term “performance enhancers” has taken on a negative connotation of late. The very mention of it frequently conjures up images of professional athletes “juicing up” on anabolic steroids or synthetic stimulants. Fortunately, in recent years, scientists have uncovered an all natural and much safer alternative that may just improve physical capacity and support cardiovascular health. According to several, peer-reviewed scientific studies, the solution may lie in the humble red beet (Beta vulgaris). Athletes who consume red beet juice, a rich source of naturally occurring antioxidants and nitrates, consistently find benefits in trial performance in a number of activities ranging from bicycling to knee-extensor exercises. The key to the greater stamina reported likely involves the ability of beet juice to improve circulation and increase peripheral tissue oxygenation. What’s more, beet root juice also supports cardiovascular health by reducing blood pressure, irregular blood clotting and, possibly, high triglycerides as well. If there is a down side to drinking red beet juice, it would be its high sugar content. The best way to derive the benefits of beet juice while limiting sugar intake is to supplement with beet root juice extracts or powders. For instance, one the most popular products on the market yields only 5 grams of sugar per concentrated tablespoon of beet juice powder. Finally, if you decide to try beet root juice and you find a distinct reddening when you use the bathroom, don’t worry. This is a well known reaction known as beeturia which affects approximately 14% of the population.

To learn more about the studies referenced in today’s column, please click on the following links:

Study 1 – Acute Dietary Nitrate Supplementation Improves Cycling Time … (link)

Study 2 - Dietary Nitrate Supplementation Enhances Exercise Performance … (link)

Study 3 - Dietary Nitrate Supplementation Reduces the O2 Cost of Walking … (link)

Study 4 - Acute and Chronic Effects of Dietary Nitrate Supplementation On (link)

Study 5 - Dietary Nitrate Supplementation Enhances Muscle Contractile (link)

Study 6 - All-Natural Nitrite and Nitrate Containing Dietary Supplement (link)

Study 7 - Acute Blood Pressure Lowering, Vasoprotective, and Antiplatelet (link)

Nitrate-Rich Beet Juice May Lower Blood Pressure

Source: Hypertension. 2010 Aug;56(2):274-81. (link)

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Posted in Exercise, Food and Drink, Nutritional Supplements

10 Comments & Updates to “Red Beet Juice Power”

  1. Craig Hitchens Says:

    Great article and some good research sources there my friend. Nice and simple for folks to understand. I use juicing therapeutically in my practice often and many people are amazed at how quickly their well being turns around from poor to great for them! Awesome stuff!

  2. JP Says:

    Thank you for sharing your experience and success with us, Craig. In general, I recommend whole foods or even blended whole foods over juicing. But, the research supporting the benefits of red beet juice seem quite solid to me. Perhaps future inquiries will clarify whether similar or better results can be expected from the use of low-sugar versions of the actual juice (extracts, powders).

    Be well!


  3. Roby Mitchell MD(Dr Fitt) Says:

    In general,foods that are purple or cyanic will improve vascular endothelial call production of nitric oxide. These cells and other epithelial cells get damaged by fungal overgrowth and the subsequent process of inflammation. The cynanic color in produce is due to phenolics,anthocyanidins and other antifungals plant make to protect themselves. Cranberry and pomegranite will have the same effect. These not only lower blood pressure,by increasing vascular endothelial cell production of nitric oxide,erectile function is also improved. Indeed,erectile dysfunction is many times an early indicator of vascular disease that later manifest as coronary or carotid artery disease.

  4. JP Says:

    Good day, Roby.

    I agree that richly pigmented fruits and vegetables tend to benefit endothelial function and health. However, it appears that red beets impart added support due to their naturally occurring nitrate content. I’m also a big fan of cranberries and pomegranate extracts. I certainly think they’re health promoting for the cardiovascular system and beyond. Excellent foods and supplements.

    Be well!


  5. Coffeecup Says:

    JP, what’s the difference between Nitrites in beets and nitrites in hot dogs. Why is one good for you and one bad for you. Thank you for any light you may be able to shed on this.

  6. JP Says:

    Hi Coffeecup,

    Beets and various vegetables (green leafy veggies in particular) contain naturally occurring nitrates – which appear to enhance circulation, physical performance, etc. Isolated sodium nitrate is included in some processed foods to maintain product integrity.

    Hot dogs contain a chemically-related, synthetic preservative called sodium nitrite – a suspected carcinogen.

    Most refined foods with added nitrites (spelled with an ‘i’) *may* have harmful effects. On the other hand, vegetables that contain nitrates (spelled with an ‘a’) tend to possess a multitude of anti-cancer components (carotenoids, fiber, phytochemicals, etc.).

    My advice: 1) Don’t worry about vegetables that are rich in nitrates. In fact, these may be worth seeking out under certain circumstances. 2) Avoid processed foods that contain sodium nitrate and nitrite.

    Be well!


  7. Coffeecup Says:

    Yes, I am into the vegetables, not the hot dogs. Thanks so much.

  8. JP Says:

    Nutrients. 2015 Apr 14;7(4):2801-2822.

    The Potential Benefits of Red Beetroot Supplementation in Health and Disease.

    Conclusions: Based on the available data, beetroot appears to be a powerful dietary source of health promoting agents that holds potential as therapeutic treatment for several pathological disorders. The powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and vascular-protective effects offered by beetroot and its constituents have been clearly demonstrated by several in vitro and in vivo human and animal studies; hence its increasing popularity as a nutritional approach to help manage cardiovascular disease and cancer. In the human studies to date, beetroot supplementation has been reported to reduce blood pressure, attenuate inflammation, avert oxidative stress, preserve endothelial function and restore cerebrovascular haemodynamics. Furthermore, although beyond the scope of this review, several studies have now established beetroot supplementation as an effective means of enhancing athletic performance.

    Be well!


  9. JP Says:

    Update 06/06/15:

    Hypertension. 2015 Feb;65(2):320-7.

    Dietary nitrate provides sustained blood pressure lowering in hypertensive patients: a randomized, phase 2, double-blind, placebo-controlled study.

    Single dose administration of dietary inorganic nitrate acutely reduces blood pressure (BP) in normotensive healthy volunteers, via bioconversion to the vasodilator nitric oxide. We assessed whether dietary nitrate might provide sustained BP lowering in patients with hypertension. We randomly assigned 68 patients with hypertension in a double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial to receive daily dietary supplementation for 4 weeks with either dietary nitrate (250 mL daily, as beetroot juice) or a placebo (250 mL daily, as nitrate-free beetroot juice) after a 2-week run-in period and followed by a 2-week washout. We performed stratified randomization of drug-naive (n=34) and treated (n=34) patients with hypertension aged 18 to 85 years. The primary end point was change in clinic, ambulatory, and home BP compared with placebo. Daily supplementation with dietary nitrate was associated with reduction in BP measured by 3 different methods. Mean (95% confidence interval) reduction in clinic BP was 7.7/2.4 mm Hg (3.6-11.8/0.0-4.9, P<0.001 and P=0.050). Twenty-four-hour ambulatory BP was reduced by 7.7/5.2 mm Hg (4.1-11.2/2.7-7.7, P<0.001 for both). Home BP was reduced by 8.1/3.8 mm Hg (3.8-12.4/0.7-6.9, P<0.001 and P<0.01) with no evidence of tachyphylaxis over the 4-week intervention period. Endothelial function improved by ≈20% (P<0.001), and arterial stiffness was reduced by 0.59 m/s (0.24-0.93; P<0.01) after dietary nitrate consumption with no change after placebo. The intervention was well tolerated. This is the first evidence of durable BP reduction with dietary nitrate supplementation in a relevant patient group. These findings suggest a role for dietary nitrate as an affordable, readily-available, adjunctive treatment in the management of patients with hypertension (funded by The British Heart Foundation).

    Be well!


  10. JP Says:

    Update 06/06/15:

    J Nutr Sci. 2014 Apr 30;3:e9.

    Effects of a beetroot juice with high neobetanin content on the early-phase insulin response in healthy volunteers.

    Produce rich in phytochemicals may alter postprandial glucose and insulin responses by interacting with the pathways that regulate glucose uptake and insulin secretion in humans. The aims of the present study were to assess the phytochemical constituents of red beetroot juice and to measure the postprandial glucose and insulin responses elicited by either 225 ml beetroot juice (BEET), a control beverage matched for macronutrient content (MCON) or a glucose beverage in healthy adults. Beetroot juice was a particularly rich source of betalain degradation compounds. The orange/yellow pigment neobetanin was measured in particularly high quantities (providing 1·3 g in the 225 ml). A total of sixteen healthy individuals were recruited, and consumed the test meals in a controlled single-blind cross-over design. Results revealed a significant lowering of the postprandial insulin response in the early phase (0-60 min) (P < 0·05) and a significantly lower glucose response in the 0-30 min phase (P < 0·05) in the BEET treatment compared with MCON. Betalains, polyphenols and dietary nitrate found in the beetroot juice may each contribute to the observed differences in the postprandial insulin concentration.

    Be well!


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