March 11, 2015
The Power of Beets

Beets. A polarizing vegetable – you love them or you hate them. This often unpopular root vegetable is getting a lot of positive press as a result of scientific studies examining the health benefits of its unique nutrient profile.

In ancient history, beets were known as an aphrodisiac reportedly prized by Aphrodite, goddess of beauty and love. The essence of the beet’s power was believed to be shown by its heart-shape and deep red color as well as the red network of “capillaries” that are visibly traceable on the beet green.

Besides its extraordinary antioxidant content, the humble beet is a superfood due to its nitrate content. Consuming nitrate increases nitric oxide (N-O) levels in the body resulting in relaxation of blood vessels and increased blood flow. Increased circulation means lower blood pressure and reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. Increased N-O production from the intake of beets may also benefit several other conditions of cardiovascular, nervous, gastrointestinal, reproductive, respiratory, and cellular systems. 

For the performance driven athlete, beet root juice benefits athletic performance by increasing circulation, increasing the potential for energy production/efficiency, and reducing the amount of oxygen needed by muscles in activity. This can translate to increased stamina and faster finish times. Guidelines for dosing are still being studied, but research suggests 500ml beet juice daily for 6 consecutive days leading up to an athletic event plus 500 ml several hours before the event. Still can’t bring yourself to stomach beets or beet juice? Try consuming other vegetables high in nitrates like lettuce, arugula, spinach, Chinese cabbage, endive, leek, parsley, and kohlrabi.

Fair warning, if you decide to start eating beets, sometimes colorful urine (or poop) will be noticeable but harmless.

Try this recipe for a beautiful beet and arugula salad.

Written by Shelly Guzman Johnson

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