The beet is a bulbous, sweet root vegetable that most people either love or hate. It’s not new on the block, but it’s risen to superfood status over the last decade or so. Research shows drinking beetroot juice may benefit your health. Here’s how.

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Beetroot juice may help lower your blood pressure. Researchers found that people who drank 8 ounces of beetroot juice daily lowered both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Nitrates, compounds in beetroot juice that convert into nitric acid in the blood and help widen and relax blood vessels, are thought to be the cause.

According to a small 2012 study, drinking beetroot juice increases plasma nitrate levels and boosts physical performance. During the study, trained cyclists who drank 2 cups of beetroot juice daily improved their 10-kilometer time trial by approximately 12 seconds, while also reducing their maximum oxygen output.

Results of a 2015 study suggest further benefits of nitrates in beetroot juice. The study showed that people with heart failure experienced a 13 percent increase in muscle power two hours after drinking beetroot juice.

According to a 2011 study, nitrates may help increase blood flow to the brain in older people and help slow cognitive decline. After participants consumed a high-nitrate diet which included beetroot juice, their brain MRIs showed increased blood flow in the frontal lobes. The frontal lobes are associated with cognitive thinking and behavior. More studies are needed. But the potential of a high-nitrate diet to help prevent or slow dementia is promising.

Straight beetroot juice is low in calories and has virtually no fat. It’s a great option for your morning smoothie to give you a nutrient and energy boost as your start your day.

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Beets get their rich color from betalaines. Betalaines are water-soluble antioxidants. According to a 2014 study, betalaines have chemo-preventive abilities against some cancer cell lines. Betalaines are thought to be free radical scavengers that help find and destroy unstable cells in the body.

Potassium is a mineral electrolyte that helps nerves and muscles function properly. If potassium levels get too low, fatigue, weakness, and muscle cramps can occur. Very low potassium may lead to life-threatening abnormal heart rhythms.

Beets are rich in potassium. Drinking beetroot juice in moderation can help keep your potassium levels optimal.

Your body can’t function properly without essential minerals. Some minerals boost your immune system while others support healthy bones and teeth. Besides potassium, beetroot juice provides:

  • calcium
  • iron
  • magnesium
  • manganese
  • phosphorous
  • sodium
  • zinc
  • copper
  • selenium

Beetroot juice is a good source of vitamin C. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that helps boost your immune system and protect cells from damaging free radicals. It also supports collagen production, wound healing, and iron absorption.

If your liver becomes overloaded due to the following, it may lead to a condition known as nonalcoholic fatty liver disease:

  • a poor diet
  • excessive alcohol consumption
  • exposure to toxic substances
  • sedentary lifestyle

Beetroot contains betaine, a substance that helps prevent or reduce fatty deposits in the liver. Betaine may also help protect your liver from toxins.

Folate is a B vitamin that helps prevent neural tube defects such as spinal bifida and anencephaly. It may also decrease your risk of having a premature baby. Beetroot juice is a good source of folate. If you’re of childbearing age, adding folate to your diet can help you get the 600 mcg recommended amount.

If you have high cholesterol, consider adding beetroot juice to your diet. A 2011 study on rats found that beetroot extract lowered total cholesterol and triglycerides and increased HDL (good) cholesterol. It also reduced oxidative stress on the liver. Researchers believe beetroot’s cholesterol-lowering potential is likely due to its phytonutrients like flavonoids.

Your urine and stools may turn red or pinkish after eating beets. This condition, known as beeturia, is harmless. But it may be startling if you don’t expect it.

If you have low blood pressure, drinking beetroot juice regularly may increase the risk of your pressure dropping too low. Monitor your blood pressure carefully.

If you’re prone to calcium oxalate kidney stones, don’t drink beetroot juice. Beets are high in oxalates, which are naturally occurring substances that form crystals in your urine. They may lead to stones.

Beets are healthy no matter how you prepare them. But juicing beets is a superior way to enjoy them because cooking beets reduces their nutritional profile. If you don’t like beetroot juice straight up, try adding some apple slices, mint, citrus, or a carrot to cut through the earthy taste.

If you decide to add beetroot juice to your diet, take it easy at first. Start by juicing half a small beetroot and see how your body responds. As your body adjusts, you can drink more.