Beets are very rich in B vitamins, calcium, iron and powerful antioxidants such as alpha lipoic acid (ALA). All of these support healthy liver function and bile flow. Poor bile flow is extremely common and is linked to weak stomach acid, inadequate liver detoxification, and poor fat metabolism. (1)

In one study, both beets and okra were found to attach to bile in the intestines. (2) Once the bile is attached to certain types of fiber, in this case beet and okra fiber, the fiber’s job is to escort toxic bile to the toilet. This is important, as bile carries toxic cholesterol particles, environmental pollutants and a variety of other fat-soluble toxins that it picks up on its journey through the liver and intestines. Without adequate fiber, up to 94% of this toxic bile can be re-absorbed back to the liver and put back into circulation. (1)

Powerful Liver-Protective Support: In another study, mice who were fed beets for 10 days (2g/kg of body weight) produced a significant amount of enzymatic antioxidants. The mice who ate beets produced a large amount of the body’s two most powerful antioxidant liver enzymes: superoxide dismutase and glutathione. (3)

Blood Sugar-Balancing Boost: Surprisingly, beets, which are loaded with beet sugar, have been shown to help support healthy blood sugar levels. (4) Much of these benefits can be attributed to the high levels of alpha lipoic acid (ALA) found in beets, which seems to offset the effects of the beet sugar. ALA is both water and fat-soluble, which allows it to penetrate any tissue in the body. For this reason, it has become a popular skincare ingredient. As an antioxidant, it allows the ALA to penetrate many deep tissues of the body and help resolve free radical damage.

Performance Boost: Beets happen to be one of the highest sources of performance-enhancing nitrates. That’s right… nitrates from plants such as beets, celery, and cauliflower are actually good for you, while nitrates found in packaged meats such as bacon, sausage, hot dogs, deli meats, packaged ham, pepperoni, and salami are quite toxic.

Plant-based nitrates in the diet convert easily into nitrites, which have a powerful vasodilation effect. Vasodilation refers to the widening of blood vessels, bile, and pancreatic ducts. This can result in better circulation, more efficient delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the cells, as well as improved physical performance (5) and digestion. Poor blood flow, due to a lack of healthy vasodilation, may be a factor in the decline of physical and cognitive function associated with aging. (5,6)

Brain Boost: Beet juice has also been found to increase cerebral circulation to certain parts of the brain that govern executive function. (5) Execution function is what allows us to do things like organizing, planning, remembering details and managing time. As a vasodilator, the nitrates in beets may support healthy cognitive function and memory by enhancing blood supply to these specific areas of the brain. (5)

Circulation Boost: The vasodilation effects of beetroot have also been shown to support healthy blood pressure. In one study, drinking just 500ml of beet juice lowered blood pressure by 10 points in 3 hours, possibly due to the blood vessel-dilating effect of the nitrates in beets! (7)

I often recommend for my patients to try eating one fresh beet a day for 3 months to help thin the bile and flush the liver and gallbladder. Beets are best grated raw with lemon juice, but also have benefits when eaten cooked.


  1. Guyton and Hall. Textbook of Medical Physiology. 12th Edition. Saunders. 2011
  2. Food Chemistry. 2007, Vol.103(2):676–680, doi:10.1016/j.foodchem.2006.07.056

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Dr. John