Surprising Health Benefits of Beets

The health benefits of beets range from lower blood pressure to improved athletic performance. Learn about beet nutrition, the healthiest ways to eat beets—juiced, raw or cooked—who can benefit from eating them and who should steer clear of them.

beet salad

Featured Recipe: Roasted Beet Salad

You may have seen certain chews and powders made from beets and wondered why they would use this root vegetable in a supplement. This is because beets boast a range of health benefits. And there are a variety of ways to enjoy them—tasty, filling ways that take this root and make it the star of your plate.

According to the USDA, there are just 59 calories in a cup of beets. Beets are also chock-full of folate, fiber and potassium. One cup delivers 4 grams of fiber—mostly the insoluble type that keeps things moving through your digestive system—and about 10% of your daily potassium needs, according to the FDA.

Are Beets Safe for Everyone?

Considering all the hype surrounding beets—like beet supplements touting various health benefits—is it really safe to consume beets daily? According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), drinking a moderate amount of beet juice is probably safe for most people. Many studies that are done on beets also have participants eating them—or drinking the juice—every day or most days. According to the NIH, regarding athletic performance, most studies have participants drink up to 2 cups of beet juice, 2.5 to 3 hours prior to exercise training.

With that said, the NIH also states that those with certain disorders, including chronic kidney disease, type 1 diabetes, congestive heart failure, adrenal insufficiency or liver disease, or those on certain medications—like ACE inhibitors and potassium-sparing diuretics—may need to watch their potassium intakes. And because beets are high in potassium, they may not be the best source of nutrition in these cases. It's always best to discuss this with your healthcare practitioner or a registered dietitian knowledgeable in your health condition.

If you don't have any pre-existing reasons not to eat beets, here are all the healthy reasons to make sure you save space on your plate for this ruby-red root veg.

Try These: Healthy Beet Recipes

Blood Pressure


Featured Recipe: Sheet-Pan Shrimp & Beets

Maintaining a healthy blood pressure can reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke.

"Beets contain high levels of natural nitrates, which are converted to nitric oxide within the arteries," says Stacy Mitchell Doyle, M.D., founder of "This causes the blood vessels in the heart and organs to dilate, which lowers blood pressure and increases blood flow."

A 2021 review in Food Science & Nutrition suggests that beets can reduce blood pressure—but how much is dependent on several factors. First, these study authors state that beet juice has been shown to be more effective at lowering blood pressure than eating beetroot, perhaps because the juice is more concentrated. They also state that studies suggest that those with untreated hypertension see the greatest effects with beet juice. In other words, if your high blood pressure is being treated with medication, you might not see much of a difference in it by eating or drinking beets.

Athletic Performance


Featured recipe: Ginger-Beet Juice

Beets may improve endurance too. "Beets—and specifically beetroot juice—can be a secret weapon for athletes," says Chrissy Carroll, RD, a USAT Level I Triathlon Coach and blogger at Snacking in Sneakers.

This benefit is also due to the beets' nitrates, which are converted to nitric oxide and act as a vasodilator. "In other words, the nitric oxide opens up your blood vessels and lets the blood and oxygen flow through more easily," says Carroll. The result for you? An extra edge to beat out (pun intended!) the competition.

There may be more benefits beyond vasodilation for recreationally-active people, too. A 2020 review in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition suggests that studies show that beet juice can help your body use oxygen more efficiently while exercising.

"For peak performance, try swigging down some beetroot juice or including some sliced beets in your breakfast about 90 minutes before your next long run or ride," says Carroll, "Of course, try this during training, prior to testing it out in any race."

More studies are needed since most have only studied men, not all sports have been studied and the effects on short- versus long-distance and high- versus low-intensity exercise are still unknown. Of course, you could also try it and see how it affects your own workouts.

Read More: 6 Ways to Exercise Without Even Knowing It


Beets are high in betalains, a group of cancer-fighting antioxidants. Betalains include betacyanins, which give beets their dark red and purple color, and betaxanthins, which are yellow—hence the golden beets that sometimes show up on a salad at a restaurant. Betalains decrease inflammation that could otherwise increase your risk for chronic diseases like heart disease and cancer.

"The phytonutrients in beets are also amazing for decreasing inflammation in the liver and kidneys, and facilitating the detoxification of these organs by increasing the production of glutathione, which is the body's natural detox mechanism," says Doyle.

Despite beets' natural detoxification effects, however, it might not be wise to consume large amounts of beets in an attempt to detox your body. As with anything, too much of a good thing can be too much. The same 2021 review in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition discusses how nitrates can be converted into unhealthy, carcinogenic substances especially when taken in large amounts. Because beets contain nitrates, it is unknown if ingesting beets in large quantities could be harmful.

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Healthy Ways to Eat Beets

Both eating beets and drinking beet juice will give you anti-inflammatory betalains and other phytonutrients. If you're looking to enhance athletic performance, drink up. Juicing beets delivers a concentrated dose of nitrates, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.

However, you lose the fiber when you juice the beets. That's not necessarily bad news if you're about to run a race. However, most Americans don't get enough fiber, and beets are a good source of the insoluble type, which helps keep you regular and full longer than beet juice.

Raw beets contain more vitamins, minerals and antioxidants than cooked beets (yes, you can eat beets raw!). Like many vegetables, the longer you cook beets—especially in water—the more the colorful phytonutrients leach out of the food and into the water. Retain the good-for-you nutrients in beets by roasting them or sautéing them instead. Or lightly steam them for just a few minutes, suggests Doyle.

Beets Pee

If your urine turns pink or red after eating or drinking beets, it's probably not a cause for concern. This is typically normal and is called beeturia, per the National Library of Medicine's resource, StatPearls—and about 10-14% of people get it after eating or drinking beets.

However, according to StatPearls, beeturia may also be a sign of anemia (aka iron deficiency) or an allergy to beetroot. If you have any concerns or other symptoms, like itching, sneezing or watery eyes after eating beets, or signs of iron deficiency in general, it might be wise to avoid beets and see your healthcare practitioner before indulging in them again.

Read More: Our 30 Best Beet Recipes

Ways to Add Beets to Your Diet

Roasted Beet Hummus

Featured Recipe: Roasted Beet Hummus

Gone are the days of only eating beets from a can or salad bar. Now you can find beets spiralized, pre-steamed or cooked in the produce section, and in liquid form at your favorite juice bar.

Fun fact: You can also eat beet leaves (aka beet greens), which have plenty of health benefits, too, per a 2021 research article in Phytotherapy Research.

Beet chips and pickled beets are popular, as well. Pickled beets can be healthy, as long as they aren't loaded with salt and sugar in the pickling process.

Bottom Line

You can't beat beets! Add these nutrition powerhouses to your diet for a plethora of health benefits, from improved sports performance and lower blood pressure to decreased inflammation and regularity. Just don't overdo it, since studies have not shown the exact amount that provides health benefits without producing potentially unhealthy compounds.

Like any other food, beets are not a magic pill or cure-all. Eat them as part of a varied diet that includes whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and dairy. This will ensure that you get the nutrients you need for a healthy body and brain, without overdoing it on just a few nutrients.

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