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Are Pickled Beets Good For You?

Rich, earthy, and highly nutritious, fresh beets are a great source of several vitamins and minerals – but are pickled beets good for you?


Pickled beets are a shelf-stable alternative to fresh beets, and are rich in iron, calcium, and potassium. An ancient athlete diet consisted of beets, as they’ve been long known as a powerhouse in the “superfood” category.  Athletes to this day consume beet juice for performance improvement and endurance. Although studies show that beet juice can enhance cardiorespiratory endurance, beets are not just for athletes - there can be cardiorespiratory benefits for many people.

Most anyone can enjoy a variety of health benefits by consuming beets, as they are one of the best foods for boosting nitric oxide, are packed with essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that help to support overall health. While fresh beets are a delicious way to get the nutrients we need, the shelf life of beets can be extended by various processing methods like freezing, drying into a powder, and pickling.  Pickling beets has become a tasty and popular way to enjoy this healthy nitric oxide food.  But before adopting pickled beets as a diet staple it is important to know the benefits and drawbacks of pickled beets.

What Are Pickled Beets?

What Are Pickled Beets? | NutriGardens

Most of us know that beets are a healthy root vegetable, but are pickled beets good for you? Pickled beets are fresh beets that have been preserved using a salt and vinegar brine which are then canned to extend their shelf-life and make them more convenient to eat while adding a tasty pickled flavor. They can be an okay alternative to fresh beetroot that are perishable and tend to spoil after a short period of time in the refrigerator.

Pickled beets make the health benefits associated with beetroot more accessible, however, studies show they contain less nitrate and nitrite than fresh beets, diluting their impact, which is likely a result of the added sucrose. Pickled beets still contain vitamin A, magnesium, and fiber, and can be added to a snack or meal with some nitric oxide efficacy.  

When examining the question, “are picked beets good for you”  the answer is, yes, in moderation. There are many benefits of pickled beets as they are one of the best foods for nitric oxide boosting, even when pickled. Beets are low in fat and calories and are a great plant-based source to fuel the body including vital systems like the brain, heart, kidneys, and the nervous system.


What are the benefits of eating pickled beets?

 

Brain Support

Pickled beets are rich in B vitamins, from riboflavin and thiamine to niacin, folate, and B6. These vitamins are essential for optimal brain function, as they are passed through the blood-brain barrier to carry out their role in neurochemical synthesis. B vitamins play a key role in energy, brain health, and can help to support memory and mental performance. Brain health is one of the great benefits of pickled beets as a snack or addition to a salad. 

Blood Pressure

While fresh and powder beetroot have been known to support healthy circulation, pickled beets contain brine (high concentration of salt and water, sometimes added sugar) which is known to take away from some of the nitric oxide boosting benefits.

While beet nutrients like magnesium, potassium, and calcium, can still be found in pickled beets, their benefits can be better leveraged with fresh beets, frozen beets, or beetroot powder as these don’t have added sucrose or salt. 


Antioxidants

Raw pickled beets are still a great source of antioxidant compounds that protect the body from free radical damage. Antioxidants such as selenium, flavonoids, and vitamins A, E, and C can be found in pickled beets, as long as they were not cooked prior to canning. Heat used for boiling beets to pickle them, can diminish antioxidants levels.

Another one of the great benefits of pickled beets is their ability to increase levels of glutathione in the body, which helps to support a healthy immune system. They are also rich in betalains, which have antimicrobial, antioxidant, and neuroprotective properties that may further contribute to optimal health.

Nitric Oxide

Are pickled beets good for you when it comes to nitric oxide boosting? Beets are one of the best foods for nitric oxide production. While there are a variety of ways to boost nitric oxide production, pickled beets are a convenient, tasty source.

Nitric oxide helps inhibit the inflammation of cells and promotes adequate oxygen and nutrient flow to facilitate optimal health and cell function. In addition to a well-balanced diet, consuming sufficient amounts of nitrate helps nitric oxide become bioavailable and can play a role in optimized health. While these efforts can still be achieved with pickled beets, studies show the levels of nitrate are lower than consuming fresh beets, beet juice, beetroot powder, or frozen beets. 

The Truth: Are Pickled Beets Good For You?

The Truth: Are Pickled Beets Good For You?  | NutriGardens

Yes, it turns out pickled beets are still a good source of a variety of vitamins and minerals, all of which support a healthy immune system, adequate nutrient and oxygen flow, nitrate, and help to protect the body against oxidative stress.

Beets have been heavily researched for their nitrate content, which converts to nitric oxide during digestion, to help support the immune system, circulatory system, and athletic performance. When looking for the best foods for nitric oxide production prioritizing fresh beets and beetroot powder that contain higher levels of nitrate is ideal, but pickled beets can also be a healthy part of our beet consumption mix.

In addition to their nitric oxide production, pickled beets are a quick, convenient way to get some essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that will support the body in achieving optimal health along with a well-balanced diet and active lifestyle. The betalains in pickled beets help to reduce oxidative stress and combat fatigue, while the nitrate may help to improve mental clarity by promoting adequate oxygen flow to the brain.

Not only do pickled beets add a pop of color and crunch to our diet, they also provide a variety of health benefits across numerous systems in the body. Too many pickled beets, however, can overload our system with sodium if the brine mixture is heavy in salt. Overall, pickled beets are versatile with a mild, earthy flavor that can be eaten as a snack, side dish, or added to salads. They are nutritious and provide support to the brain, heart, nervous system, and immune system, and are an ideal addition to a balanced diet and lifestyle.

 

Resources

Harrison AP, Bartels EM (2016) A Comparison of Ancient Greek and Roman Sports Diets with Modern Day Practices . Sports Nutr Ther 1: 104. doi: 10.4172/2473-6449.1000104

Ghafoor, Kashif, Ahmed, Isam A. Mohamed, Doğu, Süleyman, Uslu, Nurhan, Fadimu, Gbemisola J., Al Juhaimi, Fahad, Babiker, Elfadıl E and Özcan, Mehmet Musa. "The Effect of Heating Temperature on Total Phenolic Content, Antioxidant Activity, and Phenolic Compounds of Plum and Mahaleb Fruits" International Journal of Food Engineering, vol. 15, no. 11-12, 2019, pp. 20170302. https://doi.org/10.1515/ijfe-2017-0302

Domínguez, R., Cuenca, E., Maté-Muñoz, J. L., García-Fernández, P., Serra-Paya, N., Estevan, M. C., Herreros, P. V., & Garnacho-Castaño, M. V. (2017). Effects of Beetroot Juice Supplementation on Cardiorespiratory Endurance in Athletes. A Systematic Review. Nutrients, 9(1), 43. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu9010043

Robbins, R. A., & Grisham, M. B. (1997). Nitric oxide. The international journal of biochemistry & cell biology, 29(6), 857–860. https://doi.org/10.1016/s1357-2725(96)00167-7

Hobbs, D. A., George, T. W., & Lovegrove, J. A. (2013). The effects of dietary nitrate on blood pressure and endothelial function: a review of human intervention studies. Nutrition research reviews, 26(2), 210–222. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0954422413000188


Kennedy D. O. (2016). B Vitamins and the Brain: Mechanisms, Dose and Efficacy--A Review. Nutrients, 8(2), 68. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu8020068


Sadowska-Bartosz, I., & Bartosz, G. (2021). Biological Properties and Applications of Betalains. Molecules (Basel, Switzerland), 26(9), 2520. https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules26092520

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