Beets and the raw beet juice are commonly recommended in limited amounts because of the high sugar content.
However, when they are been fermented, beets can be in first 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.
Raw Beets Boost Heart Health
For example, raw beets have shown us they can 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,4 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.
Naturally-occurring betaine in beets also helps reduce inflammation and protect against environmental stressors that can play a role in heart disease.
Why Ferment Your Beets?
Fermenting your beets rather than eating them raw gives you all the health-boosting benefits of raw beets — which are made even more bioavailable through fermentation — plus the beneficial bacteria and enzymes that result from fermentation.
Besides pickled beets and beet-infused sauerkraut, fermented beet juice, known as beet kvass is rising in popularity in the West.
Beet kvass has a long tradition of use in Russia, Ukraine and other eastern European countries, where it’s consumed therapeutically as a general health tonic. It’s also commonly added to soups, sauces and vinaigrettes.
Traditionally, beet kvass has been used to boost immune function, cleanse blood, combat fatigue and treat kidney stones, chemical sensitivities, allergies and digestive problems. Anecdotal reports suggest beet kvass may even improve the appearance of age spots, thicken hair and minimize graying of hair.
Recent animal research confirms the gastrointestinal benefits of lactofermented beetroot juice, showing it helps improve gut microbiota and metabolic activity.
Because of its detoxifying properties, avoid drinking too much when first starting out. Doing so could result in an overload of released toxins, producing bloating, constipation and/or cold or flu symptoms.
As a general recommendation, start out with 1 ounce per day, gradually increasing the amount to an 8-ounce glass per day. If you’re highly toxic, you may need to start out with as little as a tablespoon.