Beet juice is a rich, red vegetable juice made from pressing or grinding beets. As with other types of vegetable juices, many health benefits are attributed to this juice, although it also requires some warnings. Studies have shown that it can increase blood flow to the brain and other parts of the body. Beet juice can be made fresh or purchased commercially at many different stores.
Beet juice has been found to contain high levels of nitrates. When a person eats nitrates, bacteria in the mouth convert nitrates to nitrites, which have been found to assist in opening blood vessels. This results in increased blood flow throughout the body and brings oxygen to areas that are otherwise lacking in it. Studies on other foods have found that cabbage, celery, spinach, and other leafy green vegetables also contain nitrates, and work in a similar manner when consumed.
Not only does this juice increase blood flow throughout the body, it has been demonstrated that drinking it aids in increasing blood flow to the brain. Studies with subjects over the age of 70 showed a high nitrate diet, one that included beet juice, significantly increased blood flow to the white matter of the brain’s frontal lobes. These are the areas where degeneration associated with cognitive problems such as dementia is often found. This juice also aids in the control of high blood pressure by dilating the blood vessels and allowing the blood to flow more freely through the body.
Fresh beet juice should be made with firm, fresh beets. They should be cleaned of all dirt and debris. Some people use the beet greens as well as the red root for juicing, while others prefer the root alone. Older, wrinkled, or dried out beets are not good for juicing and will produce very little juice.
Beet juice should always be mixed with the juice of other vegetables or with apple juice, as this juice by itself may cause several problems. It can cause the vocal cords to be temporarily paralyzed, increase the heart rate, or cause a person to get hives or have chills and fever. It is high in oxalic acid, so it should not be mixed with foods high in calcium, such as broccoli, as the combination creates a compound that is difficult to digest. People who have gout, kidney stones, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis or a sensitive stomach should also avoid beet juice. For most people, though, juice from beets used in moderation is safe and can provide substantial health benefits.