BY SUZANNE BADIEOZZAMAN
FOR YEARS THE nutrition and athletic
worlds have been aware of tart cherry
juice’s power to soothe away aches and
pains from exercise while aiding recovery,
inflammation and oxidative stress. Beet
juice may prove as effective as tart cherry
juice to help athletes and non-athletes.
Meet the beets
Beta vulgaris (commonly known as
table beets or beetroots) is a taproot vegetable that comes in several varieties.
Mildly sweet red and golden beetroots are
not the same as sugar beets, which are
very high in sucralose.
Health benefits abound with red and
golden beets. They have anti-inflammatory
properties and can help with diabetes by
lowering blood glucose and increasing insulin sensitivity. They can aid heart
health by reducing the risk of stroke and
hypertension and by improving muscle
power in heart failure patients. A 2014
review article in Nutrients stated that
“individuals suffering from hypertension, peripheral artery disease and isch-emia-related diseases (e.g., blood-flow
disorders) may be relieved by regular consumption of nitrate-rich vegetables—or
perhaps using beetroot juice as a source
for enhancing blood flow both at rest and
during exercise.” A 2010 study showed
that after drinking a couple of cups of
beetroot juice the blood pressure of
healthy volunteers was significantly lowered, and dubbed it a “low cost” and effective treatment.
Possible performance booster
Did you know that at the 2012 London
Olympics, British track and field athletes
legally juiced up with beetroots before
their races? It certainly was a hit among
athletes and double gold medalist Mo
Farah, according to an article in the New
York Daily News.
Beets are a source of fiber, folate, vitamins A and C, and heart-healthy potassium, and the average beet (one that’s 2
inches in diameter) contains less than 6
grams of sugar, plus a plethora of phyto-chemicals and antioxidants.
Nitrates are found in green leafy vegetables, celery, radishes, and fruit and
FOR YOUR HEALTH
Costco offers fresh and prepared beets
in most warehouse locations. Costco
members can also find supplements and
have their prescription filled at Costco
Pharmacy and on Costco.com.
vegetable juices, and beets are especially
high in nitrates. Research shows nitrates
may help improve athletic performance.
The exact mechanism is undetermined,
but studies suggest that when you eat
nitrates from food they’re converted into
nitrite in the body and eventually increase
the level of nitric oxide (a potent vasodilator, or blood-vessel widener) so less oxygen is used to perform exercise.
According to the Nutrients article,
multiple studies show that consuming the
nitrates in beet juice (and other veggies)
can be an effective strategy to boost athletic performance and delay exhaustion.
Similarly, an article in the April 2016
issue of Today’s Dietitian looking at exercise tolerance referred to several studies
that showed a 15 to 25 percent improvement in time-to-exhaustion in cycling
and treadmill running that was attributed to beet juice consumption.
Beet consumption is not without its
potential side effects. A high-nitrate diet
may negatively interact with certain medications or nitrite drugs. According to the
British Medical Journal, a certain percentage of the population suffers from a
non-serious condition known as beeturia,
which causes red urine after consuming
beetroot. People suffering from kidney
diseases should avoid beetroot because
beetroot contains betaine, which increases
the total cholesterol level in the body.
Individuals with kidney problems need to
consult a doctor before taking betaine to
Always consult your doctor before
beginning any regime or making significant dietary changes. And if your doctor
gives you the thumbs up, pick up the beet! C
Suzanne Badieozzaman is a freelance writer
and nutritional consultant.
Beets for better health
The beet goes on
IN ADDITION TO being juiced, beets
can be enjoyed in a variety of ways,
including roasted, steamed, boiled,
pickled and raw. They can be paired
with goat cheese in a salad or appetizer, or with yogurt to make a delicious dip.
Stovetop: Boil the beets in water
until tender, about 20 to 30 minutes.
Oven roasting: Place peeled and
quartered beets in a single layer in
a roasting pan or baking dish. Add
a few tablespoons of olive oil, some
minced garlic, salt and pepper to
taste, and combine.—T. Foster Jones