Beetroot juice is a drink made from the beet plant which is also known by its botanical name, beta vulgaris (See reference 1). The drink contains nitrate and is also rich in antioxidants. Nitrates improve blood flow in major organs of your body including the heart, brain and muscles. However, the dark carotenes contained in the juice may change the color of your urine and stool to red, though this does not pose any danger to your health.(See reference 2)
A small study on effects of beetroot juice on blood pressure led by professor Amrita Ahluwalia which was published on American Heart Association’s website shows that you may be able to reduce blood pressure by drinking a cup of beetroot juice on a daily basis. Beetroot juice that was used in the study contained 0.2 gram of dietary nitrate. The findings showed that blood pressure reduced by 10 millimeter of mercury in patients who drank 8 ounces of beetroot juice. Nitrate in beetroot juice is the compound that may help in lowering blood pressure. In the body, it is converted to a chemical known as nitrite which is then converted to nitric oxide gas. Nitric oxide widens blood vessels and improves the flow of blood.
Beet plant which is used to make beetroot juice is rich in potassium. Potassium helps in vasodilation -- widening of the blood vessels. Blood is less likely to clot or break off and cause stroke when blood vessels widen. High levels of potassium in the body also allow more oxygen to reach the brain and as result stimulate neural activity and increase cognitive function -- ability of the brain to understand and acquire knowledge.
A research conducted by scientists from the University of Exeter’s School of Sport and Health Sciences and published on Medical News Today's website shows that beetroot juice boosts stamina because it reduces oxygen uptake. This results in less exhaustive physical exercises. There is no clear explanation behind the mechanism of beetroot juice in boosting stamina but the scientists suspect that turning of nitrate into nitric oxide could be reason since nitric oxide reduces the demand of oxygen during exercises.
Antioxidants found in beetroot juice may shield your body from cancer. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals that are formed during normal cell processes. Free radicals are unstable molecules that do not have complete electron shells. Absence of electron shells makes them more reactive. In the body, they steal electrons from other molecules and therefore cause damage to those molecules and DNA. The damage may become irreversible and lead to cancer and other disease. Antioxidants prevent free radicals from stealing the electrons from other molecules and hence neutralize their harmful effects.
- Nutrition and You: Beets Nutrition Facts
- THE DR. OZ SHOW: The Benefits of Beet Juice
- American Heart Association: Drinking Cup of Beetroot Daily May Help Lower Blood Pressure
- Organic Facts: Health Benefits of Potassium
- Medical News Today: Beetroot Juice Boosts Stamina, UK Study
- National Cancer Institute : Antioxidants and Cancer Prevention: Fact Sheet
Clark Alena has been a registered dietitian since 1998 and a Certified Lactation Counselor since 2000. Alena specializes in articles related to nutrition during pregnancy and infancy, breastfeeding, nutrition and child care. Alena holds a Ph.D. in Human Nutrition from Colorado State University; Fort Collins, CO.