Erectile dysfunction, also called ED or impotence, causes men to have difficulty getting an erection or maintaining it during sex. It’s common in older men. Occasional ED isn’t usually reason for concern. Chronic ED may cause extreme anxiety and lead you to seek treatment.

You may have heard that beet juice is a natural remedy for ED, but does it really help? The answer is maybe. Read on to learn more.

Any evidence supporting beet juice for ED is anecdotal. There are no scientific studies on beet juice for ED.

One cause of ED is high blood pressure, because it may damage blood vessels and disrupt blood flow to the penis. That disruption of blood flow can cause ED.

Some research has shown beet juice lowers blood pressure. According to a 2014 study, drinking one cup of beetroot juice daily lowers blood pressure as well as some types of blood pressure medication. In theory, if ED is caused by high blood pressure, regularly drinking beetroot juice may improve symptoms.

High blood pressure doesn’t just impact men in the bedroom. It may cause a low sex drive in women. It can also decrease blood flow to the vagina and impact how a woman’s body responds to sex. Hypothetically, women who drink beet juice may also experience better libido.

Beet juice is high in nitrates. Your body turns nitrates into nitric oxide. Nitric oxide, a gas naturally produced by the body, may help prevent ED. In fact, nitric oxide is sold as a dietary supplement to treat the condition.

Research has shown nitric oxide serves as a vasodilator to open blood vessels and helps maintain pressure in the corpus cavernosum to sustain an erection. The corpus cavernosum is sponge-like erectile tissue that is rich in blood vessels. When an erection occurs, brain and nerve signals cause the corpus cavernosum to relax and become engorged with blood. The blood becomes trapped and triggers an erection.

The best way to get beet juice is to make it yourself by processing fresh beets, including the greens, through a juicer. You can also purchase bottled beet juice at most natural health stores or juice bars. Some stores also sell shots of fresh beet juice.

Beets are naturally sweet, so you don’t have to add sweetener to make beet juice taste good. To cut the sweetness, juice a carrot or celery stalk with the beet. Beets also pair well with ginger, apples, and oranges.

There’s no approved recommended daily allowance for beet juice. If you have a medical condition that may be impacted by drinking beet juice, talk to your doctor to determine how much is safe for you to drink.

Aside from lowering blood pressure, beet juice has other health benefits. Beets contain small amounts of most essential vitamins and minerals such as:

  • iron
  • potassium
  • manganese

One small beet provides almost a quarter of the daily recommended value of folate. Folate is a B vitamin that helps prevent neural tube defects in unborn babies.

Whole beets contain modest amounts of vitamin C. However, beetroot juice isn’t a good source. Vitamin C is lost during juicing and storage.

Whole beets are also a good source of fiber. Fiber in your diet helps keep your bowels regular, promotes weight loss by keeping you fuller longer, and may lower cholesterol.

Some research has shown beetroot extract destroys some types of human cancer cell lines. More studies are needed, however.

Drinking a shot of beet juice before exercise or intense activity is often hailed as a surefire way to improve stamina and increase endurance. It’s said to dilate blood vessels during exercise and improve blood flow to muscles. But research has found no evidence this is true, despite beet’s vasodilating effects in blood vessels during rest.

Most people can enjoy beet juice in moderation without adverse side effects. Some people may experience red urine, a condition called beeturia, after eating even a small amount of beets. The condition is harmless and will go away after you stop eating them.

If you have a history of calcium oxalate kidney stones, you may want to limit your intake of beets. Beets are high in oxalates, a compound found in many foods.

Still, according to the National Kidney Foundation, you shouldn’t stop eating beets or other high-oxalate foods completely, because most are highly nutritious. Instead, they suggest eating and drinking calcium and oxalate foods at the same time to increase the chance they’ll bind together in your digestive system before they reach your kidneys.

Nitrates dilate blood vessels and lower blood pressure, so drink beet juice sparingly if you take medications or supplements for high blood pressure.

Beets are high in sugar. Eat them with caution if you have diabetes.

If you experience ED occasionally, there’s no reason for concern. It’s likely a normal side effect of aging or a stressful day. It may also be due to your medications. If ED happens regularly or is accompanied by other symptoms such as pain, difficulty urinating, or premature or delayed ejaculation, talk to your doctor.

A healthy lifestyle is your best defense against ED. You can’t control every factor that may cause it, but you can control some such as smoking or excessive drinking. If you smoke, drink too much, or take illegal drugs, talk to your doctor or find a treatment program for help to stop. Cigarettes, alcohol, and drugs have a direct impact on ED.

Here are some other lifestyle changes you can make to reduce your risk of developing ED:

  • Lose weight if you’re overweight.
  • Stay active and exercise regularly.
  • Eat a healthy diet.
  • Work with your doctor to keep other health conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes under control.
  • Find ways to manage stress and anxiety. Consult a psychotherapist if needed.

If you have ED, it’s important to keep the lines of communication open with your partner. Remember, ED is a medical condition and nothing to be ashamed of. If you don’t address the condition with your partner, you may experience more stress and anxiety, and worsen or prolong your symptoms.