What Are the Benefits of Beet Juice Vs. Cooked Beets?

Drinking a glass of fresh red beet juice gives you all the nutritional benefits of beets and important antioxidants, naturally-occurring nitrates and anti-inflammatory betacyanins. Beet juice can boost your energy and stamina, lower your blood pressure, help your heart, relieve depression and even reduce the risk of some cancers.

Beet juice is a good sources of folate, manganese, potassium, vitamin C and other antioxidants. (Image: olgakr/iStock/GettyImages)

Tip

Drinking beet juice is a convenient nutrient-dense, low-fat way to get the concentrated goodness of raw or cooked beets nutrition, including vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients.

Add Fiber Back Into Juice

Although juicing will retain many valuable nutrients of whole fresh beets, you'll lose some of an important health benefit — fiber content. You need fiber in your diet for a well-functioning digestive tract and to keep you regular by providing bulk to your stool.

Dietary fiber slows digestion, making you feel satiated longer. This may help you avoid overeating, which is beneficial for managing your weight. And fiber can help improve your blood cholesterol level and reduce your risk for heart disease, stroke and Type 2 diabetes, according to the American Heart Association.

U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommend a daily fiber intake of between 22.4 and 33.6 grams, depending on your gender and age. Eating your beets boiled and sliced will provide 1.7 grams of fiber, or 7 percent daily value per half cup; about the same amount of organic beet juice provides 0.5 gram of fiber.

After you juice the beets, you can resolve this discrepancy by reserving some of the pulp to mix back into your beet drink to replace the lost fiber. Or you can add the pulp to other dishes, such as salads, soups or stir fries.

The Sweet Stuff

Beets contain a high amount of natural sugars, and juicing them will give you a concentrated dose. Dietary Guidelines says that less than 10 percent of your daily calories should come from sugar. One raw whole beet contains 5.5 grams of sugar.

Considering that you will need two to four beets to make 1 cup of beet juice, the sugar content could be as high as 11 to 20 or more grams of sugar per serving of juice. This amount may be of particular concern if you're counting calories to lose weight or if you have diabetes.

Increase Muscle Strength

Beets contain natural nitrates which are the precursors for nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is involved in the regulation of blood flow, muscle contraction and respiration in your body. Research indicates that drinking beet juice may not only enhance your exercise performance, but help in the prevention of heart disease.

A randomized trial at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis proved that beet juice could improve muscle function in patients with systolic heart failure. Inorganic nitrate, in the form of concentrated beet juice, was administered to nine subjects with heart failure. The amount given was 140 milliliters, or about 2/3 cup of juice.

Conclusions, published in Circulation: Heart Failure in 2015, found that participants in the study had an average of 13 percent improvement in muscle contractile velocity and power. Researchers suggested that beet juice may enhance other aspects of physical function in patients with heart disease by boosting muscle energy.

Lower Blood Pressure

Research has shown that drinking beet juice has a positive effect on blood pressure in the short and long terms. In 2015, a study by the American Heart Association found that drinking red beet juice daily resulted in lower blood pressure in people with hypertension. Participants drank 250 milliliters — about 1 cup — of beet juice each day for four weeks and noticed some positive effects within 24 hours.

Conclusions, published in Hypertension, observed that those who consumed beet juice showed a 20-percent improvement in the elasticity of blood vessels. It was suggested that beet's high level of nitrate was responsible for the reduction in blood pressure.

Usually, eating the whole food is the best way to obtain the most nutrients. But for lowering blood pressure, you're actually better off juicing the beets to get the maximum benefit. Cooking the beets may decrease some of the healthful nutrients, but by juicing raw beets you'll get 100 percent of the phytonutrients that may help lower your blood pressure.

Antioxidant Properties for Cancer Prevention

Another major benefit of beets is their rich source of betalains, which are responsible for the rich red pigment in beets. Betalain displays strong antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and detoxification properties that benefit the health of your body in many ways.

In addition, in 2015, the journal Nutrients noted that the chemopreventive activity of betalains has been shown to protect against oxidative stress for the management of inflammation in lung, skin and liver cancer cells. Compelling evidence has also shown that betalains kill colon cancer cells as well as breast cancer cells.

Enhance Sports Performance

Due to the nitrates that are converted into beneficial nitric oxide in your stomach, a beet drink before exercising may help you get the most out of your workout. The Journal of Applied Physiology showed that nitrates have a positive effect on the mitochondria, where energy for your cells is generated to carry out activities. The 2017 study found that nitrates in beet juice increased the range and speed of a muscle's ability to efficiently contract during large muscle mass exercise.

Another study ascertained that nitrate-rich beet juice enhanced athletic performance in 19 healthy untrained men. Findings, published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise in 2014, noted a positive effect on cardiovascular function at rest and energy metabolism during exercise.

Nitrate reduces the oxygen cost of exercise, improves blood flow to the muscles and enhances oxygenation, which all play a role in improving endurance and performance. Auckland, New Zealand's Sports Medicine published a 2014 study that found that subjects from the beetroot juice group had a 15-percent increased time to exhaustion during a run, in addition to increased power and number of repetitions of resistance exercises.

Benefits From Folate

Beets and beet juice are a good source of folate. Folate is a B vitamin that your body needs to produce red and white blood cells in bone marrow. You also need folate for energy from carbohydrates and to make DNA and RNA.

Folate is especially important for women of childbearing age with future plans for pregnancy to prevent low birth weight and ensure proper development of your baby. A deficiency in folate can contribute to a higher risk of major birth defects to your baby's brain or spine.

Low levels of folate have also been linked to depression. A 2017 meta-analysis, published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research, concluded that folate improved the effectiveness of antidepressant medications and suggested folate may be beneficial for patients with depression.

Manganese for Immune Function

Drinking a glass of beet juice will supply you with a generous amount of manganese. Manganese is an essential mineral your body needs for the synthesis and activation of many enzymes that regulate metabolism and aid in the proper function of your immune system. As an important antioxidant, manganese protects against free radicals, which are molecules that damage your cells and cause many chronic diseases.

The principal antioxidant in the mitochondria is manganese superoxide dismutase (MnSOD) Mitochondria have the ability to consume over 90 percent of the oxygen used by cells and so are especially vulnerable to oxidative stress, according to the Linus Pauling Institute. MnSOD helps fight the negative effects of free radicals by converting superoxide — large reactive oxygen molecules — into smaller molecules that are less damaging to your cells.

From Raw or Cooked Beets?

You can make a healthy beet drink from either raw beets or by cooking them first. If you juice raw beets, you should make sure they are well-scrubbed and free of dirt or peeled.

A 2016 study published in Acta Scientiarum Polononrum Technologia Alimentaria reported that heating betacyanin incurred losses of antioxidant capacity by approximately 7 percent. Although this amount is not significant, consider that cooking also reduces some of the vitamin and mineral content in beets. Therefore you may want to opt for juicing raw instead of cooked beets to get the maximum benefits.

Some of the difference in important nutrient content between raw and cooked beets is as follows. These values are for two beets, each 2 inches in diameter.

Whether you choose to make a beet drink from cooked or raw beets, you'll benefit from a wealth of other vitamins and minerals, including:

  • Vitamin K
  • B vitamins – thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, B6, folate and pantothenic acid
  • Iron
  • Manganese
  • Magnesium
  • Phosphorus
  • Potassium
  • Sodium
  • Zinc
  • Selenium
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