First Do No Harm

Beet Juice ― Great Stuff or Latest Fad?

A day doesn’t pass in which I don’t hear an ad for a new product called “SuperBeets®.” If you are a juice faster, then you know that beets are a staple in juicing. The flavor is light and sweet and a just a tad salty.

But do beets live up to the latest hype? Well, let’s have a look.

First off I should point out that because of all the hype and interest, beets are undergoing continuous studies. What we know so far is that beets lean toward…

  • Purifying your blood (and help detox liver and spleen)

  • Improving circulation and digestion

  • Supporting a healthy cardiovascular system

  • Assisting the production of insulin

  • Protecting the liver against fatty deposits

  • Boosting the immune system

  • Acting as a diuretic

  • Normalizing the blood’s pH balance

  • Regulating blood pressure

  • Increasing stamina

Beets boast a host of phytonutrients, vitamins, and minerals. When it comes to cardiovascular care, we should already know that potassium is a key mineral. To get potassium, everyone says, “Eat a banana.” Well, a cup of beet juice contains more potassium than a banana and a lot less sugar.

Beets are anti-inflammatory, containing two nutrients called betanin and vulgaxanthin. Some of you might recognize how close vulgaxanthin is to astaxanthin, and yes, they are related. Astaxanthin is the red pigment in krill oil with antioxidant properties and vulgaxanthin is the red pigment in beets with antioxidant properties. Betanin is actually used as a dye, a safe dye. These colorful phytonutrients act as powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatories, and also help remove harmful toxins we seem to pick up daily in our food, air, and water.

Beets also are a significant source of betaine, a very important phytonutrients that besides assisting the liver in processing fat, also supports proper kidney function. Overall, betaine reduces the accumulation of fat in the liver. If you drink alcohol, you’ll want to drink beet juice at least twice a week; three times is even better.

I've found a lot of websites talking about studies that showed drinking beet juice helped with menstruation problems, but could not find any of those studies or which menstruation problems it helped with. However, beets are high in iron and that’s something women need when menstruating.

Beets, known as a source of complete nutrition, are chock full of vitamins and minerals, and studies abound telling beets are cardioprotective.

Ok, so there’s the potassium, the magnesium, the anti-inflammatories, but what makes beets the latest fad, especially for people who work out?

Simply put, beet juice boosts stamina, improves blood flow, and lowers blood pressure.

If you buy powdered beet root, you get all this nutrition plus fiber. However, if you buy powered beet root juice, you get highly concentrated nutrition, and still a bit of fiber.

Beet juice contains DMG, or dimethylglycine. DMG does an awful lot in the body because it provides the building blocks for many things we need from hormones to antibodies to nucleic acids and more.

But for our heart, DMG improves oxygenation (relieving fatigue and increasing energy), and even improves mental clarity. Improving oxygenation improves circulation and reduces angina. DMG also decreases elevated homocysteine levels that can pit our arteries and start the cascade of events that lead to cardiovascular disease.

When I work out, I put TMG (trimethylglycine) into my coconut water which, when it gives up one methyl group, it becomes DMG.

And now for the kicker. TMG is also called betaine.

The Miracle Molecule

We’re talking Nitric Oxide here, something that’s also been touted lately by marketing experts, especially those selling l-arginine supplements.

Nitric Oxide in our bodies is actually made by the arterial wall called the endothelium. Of course NO (nitric oxide) can’t be made if our diet is insufficient in the building blocks for it.

Nitrogen is part of fertilizer. Beets are nitrogen sponges, and thus, are rich in “natural” nitrates, especially if the beets were grown organically. Our bodies turn these nitrates into nitric oxide. Cooking beets will diminish the nitrates, but drinking beet juice will flood your body with nitrates.

Why is Nitric Oxide called the miracle molecule? I'll let Jason Clark, BSc, MSc tell you:

Nitric oxide is a molecule that our body produces to help its 50 trillion cells communicate with each other by transmitting signals throughout the entire body.

• Help memory and behavior by transmitting information between nerve cells in the brain
• Assist the immune system at fighting off bacteria and defending against tumors
• Regulate blood pressure by dilating arteries
• Improve circulation reducing stress on the heart
• Reduce accumulation of acidic plaque.
• Mediates pain

• Reduce inflammation
• Improve sleep quality
• Increase your recognition of sense (i.e. smell)
• Increase endurance and strength
• Assist in gastric motility

There have been over 60,000 studies done on nitric oxide in the last 20 years and in 1998, The Nobel Prize for Medicine was given to three scientists that discovered the signaling role of nitric oxide.

So now you know why SuperBeets® are being hawked by everyone everywhere; because beets are so very good for us and you’ll spend big bucks to get them into your system.

But not everyone wants to spend big bucks, and the product touted isn’t even organic, though the beets are non GMO. The idea that their "crystals" are formed by a patented process doesn’t impress me because I know how to compare apples to oranges.

One secret is “calories.” We compare the calories of their product to the calories of a glass of beet juice. Now watch closely.

It’s hard to determine which lie to debunk at the SuperBeets® site. They say that 1 teaspoon equals three beets. Another page says 1 “heaping” teaspoon of SuperBeets® equals three beets or 1 half liter of beet juice.

However, the actual FDA REQUIRED Nutrition Facts printed on their label tell a different story. One teaspoon has 15 calories, 85 mg Potassium, 10 mg sodium, 4 g carbohydrates, and 3 g sugars with 0 g protein.

From WebMD we find that just ONE cup (8oz) of beet juice has approximately 100 calories and 25 grams of carbohydrates.

Using 100 calories per cup as our base measure, since there are just over 2 cups in a half liter of beet juice, you're going to need at least 13 teaspoons of this product to make a half liter of beet juice. Not impressive.

Look at the weight of the product (5.3 oz); do the math and you see that if one canister sells for $39.95, that’s $120.60 per pound. But SuperBeets® is better for you than regular old beat juice. At least we are told this.

The amount of potassium in one teaspoon of SuperBeets® is 85 mg.

Now take a look at the Nutrition Facts for the powdered beet root juice that Simply the Best will carry. The product was chosen because it is organic and charged with nutrition.

The calories of 100 grams is 361. If the average calories in an cup (8 ounces) of beet juice is 100, then we have a factor here of 3.61 (because if you divide 361 by 3.61 you get 100. So, if we divide 4170 (potassium) by 3.61, we get 1155 mg of potassium in an 8 oz glass of beet juice made with this 33.3 grams of powder.

When a glass of SuperBeets® gives you just 85 mg of potassium, the word "super" becomes meaningless. I am not impressed with SuperBeets®.

Five grams of powder is equal to a half liter of beet juice? No way. SuperBeets® is all hype. And at $120.60 per pound, even their free bottle promotion, you're still paying over $60.00 per pound.

It is my recommendation that if you want a workout drink that will give you the nutrition you need, or you just want to take care of your heart, you need real beet juice.

I've recently started adding, instead of TMG, a heaping teaspoon of beet juice powder to my coconut water for my workouts. I've convinced the boss of Simply the Best to sell this stuff, so soon they will have certified organic beet juice powder at the best price in the industry. Oh, and when I work out, I also add a two teaspoons of creatin hydrate because I'm past the age where my body makes growth hormone.


RETRACTION

Feb 23, 2016

As you can see, I did some math above. I and pointed out that in just 16 oz of beet juice there are 2,310 mg of potassium. Yet on the label of SuperBeets®, they state that one serving (a level teaspoon) contains 85 mg of potassium. Even if that was a heaping teaspoon...or two, or three, or six, the amount of potassium wouldn't equal that found in half a liter of beet juice.

The problem I had with their advertising is that claim: One heaping teaspoon is equal to a half liter of beet juice.

However, SuperBeets® is touted mainly for its nitric oxide content, and to be fair, I needed to test that.

It's a simple process actually; I've been testing my nitric oxide levels for a year now. You can buy NO indicators on Amazon. You put one end in your mouth to get it wet, then take that end and fold it over to touch the indicator end and hold for ten seconds. Then you compare the color (pink) to the color chart on the bottle of indicators. Quite simple.

When my SuperBeets® arrived and I mixed up a "heaping" teaspoon, drank it down, waited 30 minutes, and tested my NO levels. 

Was I surprised to see my NO levels equal to when I had drunk two cups of beet juice the day previous. 

So I was right and I was wrong: not all of the nutrition of three beets is in there, but the nitric oxide of three beets definitely was.

So, finally we have proof that the product, if taken to boost your nitric oxide levels, works just as advertised.  And I humbly apologize to the SuperBeets® people, and want them to know they've got a pretty nice product there.


If you want the best quality organic beet juice powder at a better price, check out Simply the Best. They even beat Swanson’s prices.

But let's look at the Nutritional Information of this product one more time. You should note that the amount of folate listed there is just 2 mg short of the low side of minimum daily requirements for a pregnant mother, which are .400 mg to .600 mg. Also note that beets contain fat. But here is an interesting thing about fat and how it gets listed on the Nutritional Facts label.

Food industry lobbyists (try to find the word lobbyist in our Constitution) got laws passed that allowed them to put trans fats (partially hydrogenated oils) in foods and not list them on the labels "if the amount was not over a certain limit per serving size." The same thing went for fats in general. If fat isn't on the label, it doesn't mean that fat isn't in the substance, it simply means that it is under the "limits" set by congress. So the secret of not having your trans fats or just fats listed on the nutrition label is to make the serving size small enough to slide safely under the limits set by congress.

Until I found this label (above on the right), I had no idea that beets contained fats, specifically saturated fats, because we are all taught that saturated fats come from animals. The first fat I discovered to break that rule was coconut oil

Because the label did not list all of the nutrition in beets, and because the only place online where I found a breakdown of beet juice listed the nutrition in "one gram" of beet juice (some people are morons), I found for you the nutrition info for one cup of raw beets (below), but always keep in mind that the juice contains "concentrated" nutrition, and the numbers will be much higher, except for the fiber, of course.

 

Further Reading & References

The Truth about Beet Juice

Drinking beetroot juice reduces high blood pressure, trial shows

SuperBeets® Web Site

Nutrition Site: Beets, Raw

 


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