Beets and raw beet juice are typically recommended in limited amounts due to high sugar content.
However, when fermented, beets may be among the healthiest vegetables out there, as most of the sugar is then gobbled up by beneficial bacteria during the fermentation process while leaving other health-boosting ingredients intact.
Fermented foods are also chock-full of probiotics or good bacteria. A large number of studies have demonstrated how the ideal balance and diversity of bacteria in your gut forms the foundation for physical, mental and emotional well-being, and fermented beet juice has many additional benefits beyond probiotics.
Raw Beets Boost Heart Health
For example, raw beets have been shown to lower blood pressure by an average of 4 to 5 points in a matter of hours. This effect is due to the naturally-occurring nitrates in beets, which are converted into nitric oxide in your body.
Nitric oxide, in turn, helps to relax and dilate your blood vessels, improving blood flow and lowering blood pressure. In fact, medicinally, nitrates are used to treat angina and congestive heart failure, and research shows a glass of beetroot juice has the same effect as prescription nitrates.
Competitive athletes also use beet juice for its nitric oxide-boosting benefits. Research shows raw beets may boost stamina during exercise by as much as 16 percent, an effect attributed to increased nitric oxide.
In another study, nine patients diagnosed with heart failure who experienced loss of muscle strength and reduced ability to exercise were found to benefit from beet juice.
The patients were given 140 milliliters (mL) — about two-thirds of a cup — of concentrated beet juice, followed by testing, which found an almost instantaneous increase in their muscle capacity by an average of 13 percent.
One important caveat: Avoid using mouthwashes or chewing gum, as this prevents the nitric oxide conversion from occurring. The reason for this is because the nitrate is converted into nitrite in your saliva by friendly bacteria. That nitrite is then converted into nitric oxide in other places of your body.
Beets Have Powerful Immune-Boosting and Anti-Cancer Properties
The phytonutrients that give beets their deep crimson color also have powerful anti-cancer properties. Research has shown that beetroot extract reduced multi-organ tumor formations in various animal models when administered in drinking water.
Beetroot extract is also being studied for use in treating human pancreatic, breast and prostate cancers.
In addition, raw beets help boost immune function thanks to high vitamin C, fiber, potassium and manganese, while the betalin pigments and sulfur-containing amino acids in beets support your body's Phase 2 detoxification process. Traditionally, beets have been valued for their ability to purify your blood and liver.
High in the B vitamin folate, beets may also lower your stroke risk and are an excellent food for pregnant women. Folate is essential for many bodily processes, and lack of folate during pregnancy raises the risk of birth defects. The blood-cleansing properties of beet kvass may also help alleviate morning sickness.