Can you eat too many beets?

In this brief guide, we will answer the query, “Can you eat too many beets?” and will discuss some health benefits of beets.

Can you eat too many beets?

No, you cannot eat too many beets. If you eat too many beets in a short  period, you may experience some undesirable side effects. They are rich in oxalate, a mineral that may bind to other minerals in the body. This may obstruct mineral absorption or contribute to the formation of tiny crystals, which can lead to kidney stones. Although beets are rich in vitamins and minerals, they should be used in moderation, particularly by those who are prone to kidney stones (1).

Beets’ Nutrition

Beets (also known as beetroot) are most typically cultivated in brilliant red or purple colors, although other types are yellow or have red and white stripes on the interior. The vivid hues are caused by pigments called betalains, and they’re a sign that this root vegetable is high in phytonutrients. Beets are high in vitamins, minerals, and fiber, as well as disease-fighting phytochemicals, such as flavonoids and polyphenols with high antioxidant and anti-inflammatory capacity (1).

3 grams of protein, 17 grams of carbohydrates, and 3.4 grams of fiber are all included in one cup of cooked beets. They’re particularly high in folate, as well as copper, manganese, and potassium. Beet greens are also edible and high in antioxidant vitamins C and beta carotene, as well as vitamin K, which is important for blood clotting (1).

The betalains in beets provide the most nutritional benefit. Within the betalain family, beetroot includes a wide range of antioxidant chemicals, each of which contributes to the health advantages of beets. Betanin and betanidin are two of the most potent betalain compounds. Structurally, betalains are compounds with positive nitrogen in a polyene system and this cyclic amine reactive group has been considered an important contributor to their reducing properties (1).

Beets Have a Lot of Health Benefits

Many people believe beetroot to be a functional food, which means it has the power to improve health and prevent illness. Beets have been shown to lower the risk of inflammatory disorders including heart disease and cancer. The journal Nutrients conducted a study of the potential benefits of beetroot and beet juice supplements, which revealed evidence that the betalains in beetroot juice may decrease inflammation in the body and protect DNA from oxidative damage. Cytokines and other inflammatory mediators produced by the white blood cells are direct contributors to cancer initiation, promotion and metastasis, functional food, such as beet, which mitigates chronic inflammation is thought to be an important cancer prevention strategy (1).

Beet phytochemicals also aid in the maintenance of healthy and flexible blood vessels.

 Beets contain nitrate, which is converted to nitric oxide in the body, in addition to antioxidant chemicals. Red beet juice hypotensive effects are associated with nitrates. Beet nitrates, being bio-converted to nitrite and nitric oxide, are responsible for lowering blood pressure and are vasoprotective. Nitric oxide plays numerous biological roles, functioning and affecting neurotransmission, healing wounds, tumors, asthma, blood flow, host defense and penile erection (2).

Nitric oxide improves blood flow in the brain and throughout the body. Eating beets or drinking beet juice is known to help maintain brain health and cognitive performance as you age. Studies show that dietary (red beetroot) nitrate supplementation reduces the O2 cost of low-intensity exercise and enhances tolerance to high-intensity exercise in humans (2).

Beets’ potential to lower blood pressure is perhaps the most well-studied health benefit. Many individuals use beet juice as a supplement to their hypertension treatment. Researchers looked at the effects of beetroot on blood pressure in a meta-analysis published in the journal Advances in Nutrition. Beets’ blood-pressure-lowering advantages originate from their nitrates, as well as other health-promoting phytochemicals that operate independently of the nitrates. However, scientists are far from a complete understanding of the mechanism of red beetroot product impact on the cardiovascular system (2).

The Consequences of Eating too many Beets

For the most part, adding more beets to your diet is healthful and safe, with benefits such as decreased blood pressure and antioxidant protection. Although it’s uncommon for beets to have any negative side effects, some individuals are allergic to them. A beet allergy, like other fruit and vegetable allergies, is often caused by food pollen allergy syndrome. Pollens in fruits and vegetables are similar to pollens that cause hay fever, thus this is generally a moderate response.

The lips, tongue, and throat may become red, swollen, or itchy as a result of a beet allergy. Most people’s symptoms are minor and go away quickly, but some individuals may have a more severe response, leading to anaphylaxis.

Beeturia is a curious and sometimes terrifying side effect of eating beets. According to Medical News Today, the dark red pigments in beets may cause urine to become crimson or pink in 10 to 14 percent of individuals. A day or two after consuming them, your feces may become a dark red-black hue. This symptom appeared to be more common in malabsorption and iron deficiency cases (1). You may be concerned if you have blood in your stool if you haven’t eaten beets, but these situations aren’t hazardous or permanent.

In addition, long term supplementation of beetroot juice should be cautioned in patients with metabolic syndromes or diabetes due to its high sucrose content (1).

Caution with kidney stones

Beetroot is rich in oxalate content, this vegetable can be harmful if taken in large quantities. If you’re on a low-oxalate diet, avoid beets since they’re rich in oxalic acid. Eating foods rich in oxalates may induce kidney stones in certain individuals, particularly if consumed in excessive quantities. (1).

Supplementing with Beets

While eating entire beets is beneficial, many individuals choose to take beet supplements to get the same advantages. Beetroot powder is the most common type of beet supplement. Instead of eating beets, you may combine this with water or another fruit or vegetable juice to obtain a decent dosage of antioxidants, nitrates, and other active chemicals. Beetroot powder is available at certain grocery shops and most health food stores. Most supermarket shops sell beet juice in a ready-to-drink form.

Beet supplements are often used by athletes and individuals who engage in high-intensity activities such as running, sprinting, swimming, or bicycling to decrease blood pressure. Beets include nitrates, which aid to relax blood vessels, induce vasodilation, and enhance oxygen flow, which may help with endurance. Beetroot supplementation ameliorates the muscle metabolic perturbations that occur during exercise, improves muscle oxygenation and elevates human mitochondrial efficiency (1).

120 trained athletes and weekend warriors were studied in a study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. Supplementing with beetroot juice improved performance during high-intensity exercises significantly, according to the findings. The supplement drink also increased muscular power and decreased muscle tiredness from strenuous activities (3). 

However, there is still insufficient data on its efficacy and long term safety of beetroot supplementation to propose the food as a long term strategy in managing diseases like cancer. In pregnancy, nitrate-rich dietary supplementation may be problematic as it may cause a wide range of unexpected maternal and fatal adverse reactions such as thyroid problems, alteration in embryonic cells, methemoglobinemia and other disorders (1).

Getting the Most Out of Your Beets

It’s crucial to attempt to maintain the nutrients in beets if you want to gain the maximum health advantages from them. When buying beets, look for fresh, sturdy beets that aren’t limp, damaged, or shriveled. They may be stored in the refrigerator, but they should be used within three weeks. Make sure you wait until you’re ready to consume them before washing them.

Beets may be eaten raw or cooked, but don’t overcook them since the betalains will break down when exposed to heat. Cut them into little pieces and steam them for around 15 minutes instead. Refrigerate the prepared juice according to the manufacturer’s recommendations if you like to drink your beets. To keep beetroot powder fresh and avoid clumping, store it in a cold, dry place.

A study showed that the antioxidant activity of beets processed under typical commercial processing conditions (115°C for 30 minutes) remained constant despite an 8% loss of vitamin C, a 60% loss of color, and 30% loss of dietary folate. There was a slight but significant 5% increase in phenolic content of processed beets, probably due to water loss during the process (4).

Other FAQs about Beets that you may be interested in.

How to preserve beetroot

Can we eat beets on a keto diet?

Can you eat beet skin?

Conclusion

In this brief guide, we answered the query, “Can you eat too many beets?” and discussed some health benefits of beets.

References

  1. Tan, Mei Lan, and Shahrul Bariyah Sahul Hamid. Beetroot as a potential functional food for cancer chemoprevention, a narrative review. J cancer prev, 2021, 26, 1.
  2. Babarykin, D., et al. Red beet (Beta vulgaris) impact on human health. J biosci med, 2019, 7, 61-79.
  3. Domínguez, Raúl, et al. Effects of beetroot juice supplementation on intermittent high-intensity exercise efforts. J Int Soc Sports Nutr, 2018, 15, 1-12.
  4. Jiratanan, Thudnatkorn, and Rui Hai Liu. Antioxidant activity of processed table beets (Beta vulgaris var, conditiva) and green beans (Phaseolus vulgaris L.). J Agric Food Chem, 2004, 52, 2659-2670.

Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.