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Beets and Beetroot Juice – a healthier source of sweetness?

Beets, and in particular beetroot juice, are known to have many health benefits.

For example, beets are great for your cardiovascular well-being.1 That is, eating this vegetable promotes a healthy heart and a good flow of blood throughout the body.

Beets may also have some benefits for preventing the onset of insulin resistance (Type 2 diabetes).

Beets also have a high fiber content, which is said to improve your performance while exercising.1

Incorporating beets into your diet

Incorporating beets into the diet can work to help lower blood pressure, in addition to regular medication.2

Research has found that drinking beetroot juice once a day for 4 weeks can lower blood pressure, even in people with hypertension.2

Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, is a common condition that people with type 2 diabetes may experience.

Since beets can improve the circulation of blood, people with diabetes may benefit from consuming beets regularly.

Recommendations from the American Diabetes Association

The American Diabetes Association recommends that people with diabetes consume three to five servings of non-starchy vegetables every day.3

These types of vegetables can be eaten either fresh, frozen, canned, or juices.

Available in all of these forms, beets are one of the vitamin-rich vegetables that the American Diabetes Association lists for eating well as a diabetic.3

Many other national diabetes associations have recommended that people with diabetes consume high-fiber foods.

Beets and levels of blood sugar

If you are a person that is diagnosed with diabetes, your body cannot move enough sugar out of your blood and into your cells. At the same time, your body is unable to produce enough insulin.

Insulin is a hormone that regulates sugar levels in the blood.

Without enough insulin in the body, the levels of blood sugar will increase after eating a meal.

That is why people with diabetes suffer from high blood sugar. Symptoms of high blood sugar include tiredness, blurred vision, recurrent infections, stomach pain, thirst, and more.4

Research has found that beets are a great source of nitrate, betalains, and polyphenols- these are all nutrients that our body uses to help us control our metabolism6.

Can eating beets and drinking beetroot juice reduce the risk of developing insulin resistance?

A study done in 2014 tried to better understand the positive effects of beetroot juice.

In particular, the study wanted to see what would happen to a person’s blood sugar levels after they had eaten food if they also drank beetroot juice.6

When a person with no diabetes symptoms drank beetroot juice along with sugar water, the beetroot juice seemed to prevent a sugar spike immediately after, suggesting that the extra nitrates and betalains boost a healthy body’s ability to store glucose.

Complications from diabetes may include the following:

  • Cardiovascular diseases,7 increased risk of stroke, heart attack, or sharp chest pains.
  • Kidney diseases,7 meaning that waste from the blood can no longer occur in a normal manner.
  • Eye diseases, increased risk of blindness, or other vision problems.

Antioxidants in the diet

To reduce the severity of diabetes and its complications, research has shown that having antioxidants in the diet is very important.8 Antioxidants can help boost the immune system and protect cells from some serious damage.

A study of hundreds of fruits and vegetables has found that red beets score in the medium range of strength as antioxidants.9

This suggests that beets have a safe and useful concentration of antioxidants that can improve the quality of life for people with diabetes.

Beets as a source of nitrates

Another essential component of beets is that they are a great source of nitrates.

Nitrates can be helpful for relaxing veins and reducing blood pressure.

Interestingly, a study from 2014 reported that the nitrates in beets serve a greater purpose than just improving blood flow.

The results showed that after using beetroot juice for two weeks, people with type 2 diabetes had significantly improved their cognitive abilities.10

In particular, adding beetroot juice to their diet was associated with better reaction times for these diabetics.10

References

  1. Vegetables – Importance of Quality Vegetables to Human Health. (2018). In A. Md & A. Toshiki (Eds.), Vegetables – Importance of Quality Vegetables to Human Health. https://doi.org/10.5772/intechopen.70972
  2. Kapil, V., Khambata, R. S., Robertson, A., Caulfield, M. J., & Ahluwalia, A. (2015). Dietary Nitrate Provides Sustained Blood Pressure Lowering in Hypertensive Patients. Hypertension, 65(2), 320–327. https://doi.org/10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.114.04675
  3. Non-starchy Vegetables | ADA. (n.d.). Retrieved August 17, 2021, from https://www.diabetes.org/healthy-living/recipes-nutrition/eating-well/non-starchy-vegetables
  4. Hyperglycaemia (high blood sugar) – NHS. (2018, August 8). https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/high-blood-sugar-hyperglycaemia/
  5. Beals, J. W., Binns, S. E., Davis, J. L., Giordano, G. R., Klochak, A. L., Paris, H. L., Schweder, M. M., Peltonen, G. L., Scalzo, R. L., & Bell, C. (2017). Concurrent Beet Juice and Carbohydrate Ingestion: Influence on Glucose Tolerance in Obese and Nonobese Adults. Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism, 2017. https://doi.org/10.1155/2017/6436783
  6. Wootton-Beard, P. C., Brandt, K., Fell, D., Warner, S., & Ryan, L. (2014). Effects of a beetroot juice with high neobetanin content on the early-phase insulin response in healthy volunteers. Journal of Nutritional Science, 3, 1–9. https://doi.org/10.1017/JNS.2014.7
  7. Facilitating behavior change and well-being to improve health outcomes: Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes-2020. (2020). Diabetes Care, 43, S48–S65. https://doi.org/10.2337/dc20-S005
  8. Montonen, J., Knekt, P., Järvinen, R., & Reunanen, A. (2004). Dietary Antioxidant Intake and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes. Diabetes Care, 27(2), 362–366. https://doi.org/10.2337/DIACARE.27.2.362
  9. Carlsen, M. H., Halvorsen, B. L., Holte, K., Bøhn, S. K., Dragland, S., Sampson, L., Willey, C., Senoo, H., Umezono, Y., Sanada, C., Barikmo, I., Berhe, N., Willett, W. C., Phillips, K. M., Jacobs, D. R., Jr, & Blomhoff, R. (2010). The total antioxidant content of more than 3100 foods, beverages, spices, herbs and supplements used worldwide. Nutrition Journal, 9(1), 3. https://doi.org/10.1186/1475-2891-9-3
  10. Gilchrist, M., Winyard, P. G., Fulford, J., Anning, C., Shore, A. C., & Benjamin, N. (2014). Dietary nitrate supplementation improves reaction time in type 2 diabetes: Development and application of a novel nitrate-depleted beetroot juice placebo. Nitric Oxide, 40, 67–74. https://doi.org/10.1016/J.NIOX.2014.05.003
Andrew Mihalache
Andrew Mihalache
Andrew Mihalache is an enthusiastic learner with a specialization in human physiology at the University of Western Ontario. He possesses a strong passion for epidemiology and medical research and aspires to become a clinician-researcher dedicated to innovating patient healthcare in the future.
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