According to a new study, beetroot juice is a highly nutritious food sharing the same nutrients with salmons and blueberries. The high position in the nutrition ladder is rightly deserved because it boosts the immune system, increases the blood flow and reduces the blood pressure. Studies show that beetroot juice is a good source of dietary antioxidants and nitrates that can improve the blood pressure and blood flow to different parts of the body including the brain, heart and muscles.
According to researcher Gary Miller, PhD, the studies on the health benefits of beetroot juice is still in the infancy. “Studies have gradually revealed that the dietary nitrates in beetroot juice have a positive impact on blood flow and blood pressure," says Miller. The nitrates present in the beetroot juice are converted into nitric oxide which in turn improves the blood flow and lowers the blood pressure.
Beetroot juice and heart health
Experts were always of the opinion that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables is very good for your heart. The present study adds to the growing evidence that a diet rich in beetroot juice regulates the blood pressure and improves the health of the heart. “A study conducted in 2001 reported that antioxidants present in beetroot juice prevent the oxidation reactions that may lead to a number of degenerative diseases," says John Cuomo, PhD, of Usana Health Sciences. The results also showed that when used regularly, beetroot can prevent certain oxidative stress-related disorders in humans.
In some other studies, drinking two cups of beetroot juice or taking nitrate capsules improves the blood pressure and thus the health of the heart. This shows that nitrates present in the diet are important in improving the blood flow and can reduce the risk of heart diseases.
Beetroot juice and Exercise Performance
One of the studies reported that drinking beetroot juice improves the overall performance and the functioning of the heart during exercise. This supports the results of another study which reported that nitrates in the diet help people to exercise up to 16% longer. This positive influence is due to the ability of nitrates to reduce the uptake of oxygen which makes any physical activity less tiring.
Beetroot and Nutrition
American Dietetic Association spokeswoman Marjorie Nolan, MS, RD, suggests that it is better to drink beetroot juice as cooking may destroy the nitrate content of the vegetable. Beetroot is a good source of folate, potassium, vitamin C, fiber, antioxidants, and nitrates. Betanin is the active antioxidant contained in beetroots. There are around 35 calories and 8 grams of carbohydrates in a raw beetroot while a cup of beetroot juice may contain 100 calories and 25 grams of carbohydrates.
Beetroot has both antioxidants and nitrates while most of the other fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants but not nitrates. Spinach, radishes, lettuce, celery and Chinese cabbage are also good sources of dietary nitrates. Nutrient databases may not contain the nitrate levels of most foods as it is not normally evaluated as a part of the nutrient composition.
One of the ongoing studies in beetroot juice focuses on who would be benefitted the most from more beetroot juice and nitrates. Miller and colleagues at Wake Forest reported that beetroot juice improves the blood flow to the brain in healthy and elderly people. Nolan suggests that including one cup of beetroot juice in the daily diet can be a natural alternative to blood pressure medication and two to three ounces per day can improve constipation. Since beetroot improves the blood flow, it would enhance the performance of the athletes and would also be useful for elderly as it may improve the dwindling muscle strength, which will reduce the falls, fractures, and other impairment associated with muscle weakness.