You may also have heard of potential concerns about nitrites, mostly found in processed meats in the form of sodium nitrite, which have been associated with an increased risk of some cancers and a condition called “methemoglobinemia”. These associations are still in question, however, but it’s best to limit intake of processed meats anyway as they tend to be high in saturated fat and focus on beets and beetroot juice if you want to increase your nitrate intake.
Bottom Line– Beets can be a great addition to your diet. Besides the potential sports performance benefits, beats are jam packed with nutrients and low in calories. In addition to beets, leafy green vegetables such as spinach and arugula are also good sources of nitrate. If you want to incorporate beets into your diet but hate the taste, try the refreshing smoothie recipe below, or vary it to your taste preferences. You can also try roasting beets in olive oil and tossing them in a salad or blending them up and adding them to a pasta sauce.
Berry Beet Smoothie
1 cup frozen beets, cubed
1 cup spinach (optional for extra nutrients)
1 cup frozen mixed berries
½ – 1 cup 100% apple juice or other 100% real fruit juice (a sweet fruit juice such as apple will help mask the beet flavor)
1 scoop protein powder (optional but recommended after an intense workout for muscle repair)
Splash of honey or agave to taste (optional)
Blend all ingredients until smooth. Enjoy.