Beetroot Powder and Heart Health
I want to utilize this platform to bring unknown or uncommon supplements to the mainstream that have many proven benefits for multiple organ systems. Last week we focused on magnesium and the potpourri of benefits it can have for multiple systems in our body.
I am all about the most bang for the buck while maximizing financial investments to benefit yourself.
Beetroot powder has proven highly beneficial time and time again from various peer-reviewed studies and anecdotal evidence.
Don’t get ahead of me, there is no “magical pill” for all of life’s ailments. There are techniques we use to focus on eating REAL food and supplementing with micro and macronutrients that are depleted in our food supply.
Since most Americans do not eat a wide range of vegetables and have a primarily carbohydrate focused dietary approach, we need to explore how we can improve our consumption of high-quality proteins, good fats, and proper supplementation.
Beets by Nature
Beets have been highly commercialized lately and for a good reason. They are an undervalued vegetable that provides exquisite benefits for our cardiovascular system. It is highly rich in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals like potassium and the secret weapon are nitrates.
Why is all that important?
Well, nitrates are converted into nitric oxide in our bodies. That beautiful little molecule has a very specific role in dilating blood vessels. That, in conjunction with its high potassium levels, allows for decreased cardiovascular workload, thus improving cardiovascular health and wellness.
You see, high blood pressure is known as a silent killer. Typically, people don’t realize they have high blood pressure until the damage has become too great. It can affect kidney function, eyesight, heart health, lung perfusion, and circulatory issues, to name just a few.
Potassium in itself is essential to manage what is called the sodium-potassium pump. This is a molecular process that likes equilibrium and yearns for that 24/7. That little pump is the basis for transporting and regulating cellular volume, glycolysis, cardiac functionality, and skeletal muscle function.
Speaking of molecular insights, the more potassium you ingest in foods the more sodium you lose through your urine. This in turn allows more elasticity in your blood vessel walls which can improve or decrease blood pressure.
I am not saying to go crazy and eat foods high in potassium as your main source of dietary intake, however, it is beneficial to add more vegetables in your well-balanced diet.
Disclaimer- not everyone should go and ingest high amounts of potassium. It can have negative effects on your heart if you have kidney disease and you should always discuss it with your provider.
Second disclaimer- salt isn’t as bad as we were all told, but more on that in a future article.
Blood pressure is such a big deal because it directly impacts the functionality of the heart. The heart is a muscle, and as such, it can grow much like a bicep or quadricep. This is the only muscle in the body we don’t want to grow. We want it strong, but growth in size reduces the ability of the heart to squeeze effectively and that affects us on multiple organ levels.
This increase in heart size is called ventricular hypertrophy and can lead to a condition called congestive heart failure. Since the heart can’t effectively pump due to its increased size, fluid pools in the furthest extremities from the heart since gravity plays a large role. As a result, the excess fluid stays in the interstitial space in our legs and causes swelling. It doesn’t stop there though. It can also engulf our lungs and lead us to gasp for air because they cannot expand and contract effectively as well.
It is not just a one and done problem. The heart affects every organ and we can systematically destroy ourselves from the inside out by not having the knowledge about dietary implications.
Stop “Beeting” Around the Bush
Based on the pathophysiology lesson we just learned, we can see our cardiovascular system requires a delicate balance to maintain proper and maximal functionality.
Beets may increase the “pump” of your heart be decreasing blood pressure as a result of the nitric oxide and potassium for intraluminal (inside the vessel) dilation.
As a result, you may notice some increase in endurance while performing exercises! That’s a win-win! Being able to go further and harder during your workout, whatever it may be, will increase cardiovascular output and improve your heart’s strength!
Because of the dilatory effects, it has on your circulatory system, you can also experience a much-improved recovery time. That means you won’t be sore for 2–3 days after, rather 1–2 days so you can get back at it!
This is because the dilated blood vessels allow more oxygen and nutrients to enter the muscle tissue to aid in the recovery process. The lactic acid that builds up (and causes the soreness) has a much bigger escape route and will be more easily removed from the tissues!
Don’t forget that our brain is a highly vascular organ that requires supple amounts of blood and nutrients! Besides the big veins and arteries that go in the brain, there are numerous microvessels (smaller vessels) that are intertwined in our brains.
Beetroot powder has a dilatory effect and can make those vessels expand with oxygen-rich nutrients, thus allowing you to have improved cognition, clarity, and functionality.
And for all the guys out there reading this, yes there are vessels everywhere in your body, that includes below the belt….just saying ;)
The “Beet” Goes on
That was the last play on words with “beets.” I promise!
Now for dosages and recommendations. Of course, I always push getting the vitamins and minerals from foods as opposed to supplements. Sometimes, that isn’t feasible, and sometimes it is.
Much of the research shows that there is cardiovascular benefit in the 4g or 4000mg range. That is to be taken every day to have beneficial effects.
So, if you are into the bitter taste that beets provide, you should consume about 8 beets in a day at a minimum.
Or you can despise the taste of beets, much like myself, and add the powder form into coffee, protein shakes, or water if you want to try and disguise the taste. I highly advise AGAINST water! Blah!
I personally take about 4 grams in a day with my coffee. I have seen my blood pressure go down, mental clarity improve, and endurance greatly improve with cardiovascular and physical training.
The science is out there and it supports beets. If you can get past the taste, this is one superfood that offers so much and it would be a crime to not utilize it to its fullest potential.
Be strong. Be brave.