I’m pretty sure if you say it three times a bizarre and saucy nutritionist pops up to scare away Ronald McDonald, or something like that… 😉
But like seriously beet juice is AMAZING.
Today I’m talking about the juice specifically because it has some properties and benefits that you just can’t get from eating the whole beet. Beet’s have a high fibre content (awesome for other reasons) so you can’t physically eat enough whole beets (you’ll get too full) at one time to get the special benefits that I’m talking about today.
The special treasure here is something in beet juice called nitrates which are converted naturally in our bodies to nitric oxide.** Nitric oxide is a potent vasodilator, opening up and relaxing your blood vessels, veins and capillaries and rapidly increasing blood flow, improving circulation and lowering blood pressure. This is great for many, MANY reasons including basically all cardiovascular concerns (still a leading cause of death in Canada). Robust blood flow is good because our blood shuttles nutrients and oxygen into our cells. This is especially great for athletes and active people because it can mean faster tissue healing, faster recovery, reduced fatigue and the ability to work harder for longer and improve overall performance.
Interestingly, studies have been done with supplementing just nitrates or nitric oxide and the results have been seriously underwhelming or non-existent compared with whole-food beet juice. There are likely supporting nutrients in beet juice, like potassium, vitamin C and polyphenols that have a synergistic effect, proving again that Mama nature knows what’s up.
Also worth mentioning, beets and beet juice are fantastic for your liver, helping to support phase I and phase II liver detoxification. This means less toxic load and less oxidative stress on our whooooooole body. Toxic load and oxidative stress are strongly correlated with many of our most feared chronic illnesses so definitely worth combating daily with something simple like our food.
Imagine that, the humble beet …
SO — how should you do it and where do you get it??
As a general health tonic or to improve cardiovascular health: consume beet juice daily. Try for two to three glasses but remember that anything is better than nothing so just do it as often as you can or can remember. You can also add it to shakes and smoothies for a bit of sweetness and beautiful colour.
For improved endurance and athletic performance: consume a glass no more than 90 minutes before physical activity. I like to drink it about 20 minutes before a spin class or a run. You don’t want to take in anything solid or fibrous this soon before working out, so make sure it is just the juice or your pre-workout mixed with the juice.
Now for sourcing, you have a couple of options here:
- You can buy organic beets and juice them at home (creating a huge mess and then get bored and/or annoyed and probably quitting).
- You can buy fresh beet juice. Check out some yyc juiceries below. Or if you’re from outside Calgary head to your local health food store or organic market and ask around. The problem with this option is it’s tough to find just beet juice and you never know how much beet juice you’re actually getting in blends. For the athletic performance improvements and cardiovascular results you’re looking for high concentrations of beet juice specifically.
- Or my favourite option, buy organic beet crystals add a tbsp to water and drink. THIS IS SO EASY! And ends up being only a couple of dollars more for a whole jar than buying the beets and juicing them yourself. How much is your time worth? Cause cleaning a juicer 20 times is worth more than a couple dollars to me… 😉
“Breathe properly. Stay curious. And eat your beets.”
**You may have heard of “sodium nitrate” or “nitrites” in lunch meats being bad for you – and it’s true! they have been linked to cancer in human – but it is because of a chemical reaction with isolated nitrates/nitrites for preserving and a naturally occurring compound in meats – so maybe don’t drink your beet juice with a side of lunch meat.