Dangers of Juicing Beets

Beetroot is a sweet root vegetable that you can add to salads, smoothies, juices and desserts. If you're juicing beets, you're obtaining a variety of essential nutrients. However, you're losing out on fiber and ingesting more sugar than you would when eating raw or cooked beetroot.

Beet juice has a variety of essential nutrients. (Image: OlgaLepeshkina/iStock/GettyImages)

Beetroot Juice Nutrition Facts

Beetroot is not only a nutrient-rich vegetable, it also contains a variety of beneficial bioactive compounds. According to a January 2019 study in the Journal of Food Chemistry, beetroots contain a variety of nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, phenolic compounds, carotenoids, flavonoids and betalains.

The USDA reports that the average raw beetroot weighs around 82 grams, and a cup of raw beetroot is 136 grams. Because you're losing plant matter when juicing beets, you'll probably need at least two beets to create 1 cup of beetroot juice.

If you were to retain all of the nutrients when juicing beets, two beetroots worth of juice would have the equivalent of:

  • 70 calories
  • 15.6 grams of carbohydrates (11 grams come from sugar, while 4.6 grams come from fiber)
  • 2.6 grams of protein
  • 14 percent of the daily value (DV) for copper
  • 8 percent of the DV for iron
  • 12 percent of the DV for potassium
  • 24 percent of the DV for manganese
  • 8 percent of the DV for magnesium
  • 6 percent of the DV for phosphorus
  • 6 percent of the DV for zinc
  • 6 percent of the DV for riboflavin (vitamin B2)
  • 6 percent of the DV for vitamin B5
  • 6 percent of the DV for vitamin B6
  • 44 percent of the DV for vitamin B9
  • 8 percent of the DV for vitamin C

However, nutrients are often lost during the juicing process. Some of the main issues with juicing beets include the loss of dietary fiber and the increase in sugar content. If you're keen on drinking your beets but want to retain all of the nutrients, you may want to try consuming your beets as part of a smoothie, instead.

Beets' Benefits and Side Effects

The nutrients in beetroot are obviously good for your health. However, most of beetroot's benefits are associated with its beneficial bioactive compounds and nitrate content.

Beetroot has notably high amounts of inorganic nitrates, which are turned into nitric oxide once they're in your body. According to a January 2014 study in the Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, a November 2018 study in the Journal of Nitric Oxide and the Journal of Food Chemistry study, the nitric oxide from beets has a range of benefits for your health.

Nitric oxide can help improve performance in sports (both at sea level and at altitude), improve cardiovascular function and reduce blood pressure.

An April 2015 review in the journal Nutrients supported these findings and also reported that the nitric oxide from beetroot can improve cognitive function and act as an antioxidant. This means that nitric oxide, alongside beetroot's betalains and various other antioxidants, can reduce oxidative stress and inflammation in the body.

You'll be pleased to learn that beetroot has few side effects. The most common one is known as "beeturia," which is pink to red urine that occurs in 10 to 14 percent of people who eat beets. Although beeturia might look like blood in your urine, it's usually completely harmless.

If you are experiencing beeturia, it may also be accompanied by dark, tarry-looking stools. Like your discolored urine, this side effect is typically harmless and should go away if you stop eating or drinking beetroot.

You may be more likely to experience beeturia if you have anemia or are iron-deficient. A small number of people who experience beeturia may also have a beet allergy. However, this allergy is not as serious as standard anaphylaxis. It's also quite rare — the components of beetroot are considered to be safe for even pregnant women and young children, including infants.

If you are allergic to chard and are experiencing beeturia, you may want to consult your doctor. These vegetables are closely related and sometimes cross-pollinate, which could increase the risk of a serious allergic reaction.

Dangers of Juicing Beets

There aren't many dangers of juicing beets. However, beet juice isn't appropriate for everyone. According to a review published in 2016 in the Journal of Clinical and Experimental Gastroenterology, beets are rich in FODMAPs (which stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols).

FODMAPs are essentially just fermentable sugars (specifically, short-chain carbohydrates) that ferment in your colon. While these fermentable carbohydrates are fine for most people to eat, your body finds them difficult to absorb. Because of this, FODMAP-rich foods can cause gastrointestinal issues like bloating, gas, stomach cramps and pain. Certain people, like those with irritable bowel syndrome or small intestine bacterial overgrowth, need to avoid FODMAP-rich foods like beets.

Beetroot can also cause issues for people who are prone to kidney stones. However, they can even affect healthy people who consume large amounts of beet juice and related plants, like chard.

Beets can affect your kidneys as well, because certain types contain high levels of oxalate. According to an April 2014 study in the Journal of Foods, the oxalate in beets may sometimes cause kidney stones if large amounts of beets are consumed. Given that juicing beets requires multiple beets per cup, it is possible to consume too much oxalate if you drink beet juice very often.

That being said, it's possible to reduce the oxalate levels in beets through fermentation. While drinking fermented beetroot juice might not be your cup of tea, this beverage, referred to as beet "kvass" or "Burak kiszony," is popularly consumed in various European countries_._

Fermented beet juice may be unpleasant to drink on its own if you're not a fan of savory beverages. However, it can also be incorporated into salad dressings, used as a base for soups or blended into fruit smoothies that will mask the taste.

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