If you've ever cooked beets and gotten your hands stained red, you have experience with betaine, since this nutrient gives beets their red color. However, you can also get betaine from a variety of other foods. Eating more of these foods may help keep you healthy, since betaine can make you less likely to get clogged arteries. It may also lower your inflammation levels, according to a study published in "ARYA Atherosclerosis" in 2011.
Eating foods made with whole wheat can help you get more betaine in your diet, since both wheat germ and wheat bran are among the better sources of betaine. Wheat germ contains 1,241 milligrams per 100-gram serving, and wheat bran contains 1,339 milligrams. Snack on pretzels, which provide 237 milligrams per 100 grams, and make your sandwiches with whole-wheat bread, which contains 201 milligrams per 100 grams. Dry spaghetti, all-purpose flour and cheese crackers are also good sources of betaine.
When it comes to vegetables, spinach is your best bet for increasing your betaine levels, since it is particularly high in this nutrient, with 645 milligrams per 100 grams. Beets are another good way to get your betaine, since they contain 297 milligrams per 100-gram serving. Try a side of spinach sauteed with garlic and olive oil, add grated or cooked beets to your salads or start your meal off with borscht, a Russian beet soup.
If you aren't a fan of whole grains or greens, try eating more shrimp. It contains more betaine than most other animal-based foods with about 218 milligrams per 100-gram serving. Other types of seafood are also good sources of betaine. Start your meal with a spinach salad with seared scallops, make your main dish a shrimp-and-broccoli stir-fry or cook up a seafood stew for a delicious meal high in betaine. Although meat and poultry aren't particularly good sources of betaine, many Americans get a lot of their betaine from these foods because they eat so much of them, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
You don't necessarily have to eat betaine-rich foods to increase your betaine levels, because choline is a precursor to betaine. Eating foods high in choline, like chicken or beef liver, eggs, pork or soybeans, can also improve your betaine levels. Check with your doctor before taking betaine supplements, because these can cause side effects, including diarrhea and nausea and may raise your cholesterol levels. However, you don't have to worry about getting too much betaine from foods.
Based in Massachusetts, Jessica Bruso has been writing since 2008. She holds a master of science degree in food policy and applied nutrition and a bachelor of arts degree in international relations, both from Tufts University.