Beets are a nutritional powerhouse vegetable with many touted health benefits. Both beets and beet powder contain high amounts of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and nitrates.
However, there are some key differences between beet powder and whole beets that are important to understand when deciding which to incorporate into your diet.
Nutrition Profile: How Do Beet Powder and Beets Compare?
The nutrition facts between beet powder and whole beets can vary slightly depending on specific brands and preparation methods. However, examining the typical nutrient profiles reveals some noteworthy differences:
- Nitrates - Beet powder contains significantly higher amounts of nitrates than whole beets. One teaspoon of beet powder can provide the nitrate equivalent of 1 whole beet. The juicing process concentrates the nitrates.
- Sugar - Since juicing removes the pulp and fiber, beet juice powder contains more sugar than whole beets. Still, beet powder has lower sugar than many processed energy drinks or pre-workout mixes.
- Fiber - Whole beets contain 2-4 grams of fiber per beet. Beet juice powder contains very minimal fiber since the juicing process removes the pulp.
- Vitamins & Minerals - Whole beets contain more potassium, vitamin C, B vitamins, magnesium and iron than beet powder. The juicing process removes some of the micronutrients found in the beet pulp and skins.
- Carbs & Calories - Due to their high water content, whole beets are lower in net carbs and calories compared to concentrated beet powder.
So in terms of nutrition, whole beets contain more well-rounded vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber compared to beet juice powder. However, beet powder wins when it comes to delivering higher nitrate content.
Preparation and Convenience
Another major difference between beet powder and whole beets is preparation and convenience:
- Storage - Fresh beets only last 1-2 weeks when stored properly in the refrigerator. Beet powder has a shelf-life of up to 2 years when stored in a cool, dry place.
- Portability - Carrying around and transporting fresh beets can be cumbersome. Beet powder is highly portable and can be tossed into a shaker bottle.
- Preparation - Beets require thorough cleaning and cooking before eating. Beet powder can be easily mixed into water, juice or smoothies without any prep.
- Dosing - Getting an effective nitrate dose from whole beets may require eating 2-3 large beets. You only need 1 teaspoon of beet powder to get an equivalent nitrate quantity.
- Color - Beets will stain hands and cutting boards bright pink when prepped. Beet powder will not make a mess when mixed into drinks.
- Taste - Some people dislike the strong earthy taste of beets. Beet powder mixes more easily into tasty juices and smoothies.
Beet juice powder is clearly the more convenient option compared to dealing with whole beets. The powder requires minimal prep time, stores for years, and can be taken anywhere.
Benefits for Exercise Performance
One of the most researched aspects of beets is how they can boost athletic performance and workout endurance. Let's examine how beet powder and whole beets compare in this area:
Nitric Oxide Production
Multiple studies confirm that dietary nitrates from beetroot increase nitric oxide levels in the body. Nitric oxide is a molecule that widens blood vessels, increasing oxygen and nutrient delivery to muscles.
Higher nitric oxide translates to reduced blood pressure, improved endurance, increased efficiency of muscle contraction, and protection of cells from damage.
While both forms provide nitrates, beet powder contains significantly higher nitrate content compared to whole beets. Just 2-3 teaspoons of concentrated beet powder can provide an effective nitrate dose.
Research shows that beetroot juice powder consumption before exercise reduces oxygen cost of activity by 5-15%. Lower oxygen expenditure translates to enhanced exercise efficiency and stamina.
Whole beets may also increase oxygen efficiency, but larger quantities would need to be consumed to get an equivalent nitrate dose as found in beet powder.
In multiple studies, athletes who consumed beetroot juice saw increased time to exhaustion during high-intensity exercise tests compared to those drinking a placebo. Subjects were able to push themselves for up to 25% longer after drinking beet juice.
While whole beets can boost endurance, beet powder and juice may be more effective due to their higher nitrate content. Just 1-2 servings of beet juice powder delivers a performance-enhancing nitrate dose.
Muscular Force Production
Besides endurance, studies show beetroot supplementation can increase muscular force production. Increased nitric oxide levels allow muscles to contract with more speed and force.
In one study, participants who drank beetroot juice could pedal 5% faster during a timed cycling test. Beet juice may be optimal over whole beets when aiming to enhance muscular force and power output.
Key Takeaway: Due to its high nitrate content, beetroot powder and beet juice maximize nitric oxide levels to improve oxygen efficiency, endurance, stamina, and power.
Blood Pressure and Heart Health Benefits
Another key health benefit of beets relates to blood pressure reduction. Let's examine how beet powder and whole beets influence cardiovascular wellness:
Blood Pressure Reduction
Many studies confirm both beet juice and whole beets effectively lower blood pressure numbers when consumed regularly. One analysis found that beet juice lowered systolic blood pressure by 4-10 mmHg.
The key blood pressure-lowering mechanism comes from the nitrates in beets converting into nitric oxide, which relaxes and dilates blood vessels.
While both forms help reduce hypertension, beet juice may lower blood pressure numbers slightly more due to its higher nitrate content. Just 1-2 servings of concentrated beet juice powder provides an effective nitrate dose.
Besides lowering blood pressure, increased nitric oxide widens blood vessels and arteries, increasing blood flow and oxygen delivery throughout the body and vital organs like the heart, muscles and brain.
The nitrates in both beets and beetroot powder boost nitric oxide levels and reduce risk of plaque buildup through enhanced vascular function.choose whole beets
Heart Health Markers
Research shows that daily beet juice consumption not only lowers blood pressure, but also improves cholesterol numbers and reduces inflammation - two more markers for heart disease risk.
Whole beets may also improve these markers when eaten regularly, although more studies have focused specifically on beet juice supplementation.
Key Takeaway: The nitrates in both beet powder and whole beets convert into nitric oxide, which relaxes blood vessels, increases blood flow, and lowers blood pressure for a healthy heart.
Benefits for Digestion and Regular Bathroom Visits
Some evidence shows that eating beets may benefit digestion and promote bowel regularity:
- Beets act as a natural laxative for some people due to their high fiber content. The fiber helps move waste through the intestines.
- Beets contain carminative compounds that help relax the intestine muscles and relieve gassiness or bloating.
- The anti-inflammatory compounds in beets may soothe certain digestive conditions like leaky gut.
- Beets contain natural colon-cleansing properties that some propose helps removal waste from the GI tract.
The high fiber content of whole beets makes them ideal for supporting regular bowel movements. With minimal fiber, beet powder would not provide the same digestive benefits.
However, the anti-inflammatory antioxidants in both forms may benefit digestion by calming intestinal inflammation. Those prone to digestive issues may prefer starting with small amounts of beet juice powder.
Some research indicates beets have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects that may help slow the aging process:
- Beets are rich in vitamin C, betaine, magnesium and vitamin B folate - nutrients shown to combat cellular aging and promote healthy skin and tissues.
- The flavonoid antioxidants in beets called betalains neutralize DNA-damaging free radicals that accelerate aging.
- Beets reduce chronic inflammation linked to brain decline, heart disease, and cellular aging according to studies.
While both forms provide anti-aging benefits, whole beets may have slightly more antioxidant power since the juicing process appears to reduce some micronutrients. However, beet juice still delivers betalain antioxidants.
Possible Side Effects and Considerations
While generally safe, beets do come with some possible side effects to keep in mind:
- Kidney stones - The oxalates in beets may contribute to kidney stone formation in prone individuals. Those with a history of stones should moderate intake.
- Beeturia - Beets can temporarily turn urine and stools pink/red in color. While harmless, it can be alarming if unaware that beets cause the discoloration.
- Low blood pressure - People on blood pressure lowering medications should monitor pressure when eating beets, as the nitrates may overly reduce BP.
- Sugar spikes - The natural sugars in beets may spike blood glucose, especially in beet juice form which lacks fiber. Those with diabetes should monitor levels.
- Thyroid effects - Beets contain goitrogens. People with hypothyroidism should consult a doctor before regular beet intake.
While both forms share these considerations, whole beets may be preferable for those with kidney stones or reactive to oxalates due to its lower nitrate content.
Beet Powder vs. Beets - Which Should You Choose?
So when it comes down to deciding between beet powder or whole beets, which one has the advantage? Here is a quick comparison:
Beet Powder Advantages
- Higher in nitrates to boost nitric oxide
- More convenient as a portable supplement
- No prep time required
- Less sugar than beet juice
- Less mess compared to prepping beets
- Long 2+ year shelf life
Whole Beet Advantages
- More fiber for digestive health
- More B vitamins, vitamin C and minerals
- Contains beneficial phytonutrients in skins
- Lower in sugar than beet juice powder
- Less concentrated oxalates
While both provide benefits, beet powder, specifically beet juice powder, stands out for its convenience and high nitrate content. For those looking to quickly elevate nitric oxide before a workout or improve exercise performance, beet powder is likely the better choice.
However, for supporting overall nutrition and digestive health, whole beets may be preferable in most cases. Combining the two and enjoying beets at meals along with beet juice powder supplementation checks all the boxes.
Should you cook beets before juicing them?
Most beet juices use raw beets that do not require cooking beforehand. In fact, cooking beets may diminish some of the nutrient content. However, some people prefer to roast or steam beets before juicing as it reduces the earthy taste.
Do beets need to be organic?
Choosing organic beets is recommended whenever possible. Organic produce has more antioxidants, vitamins and minerals compared to conventional vegetables since organic methods promote optimal nutrient density in crops.
How much beet powder should you drink per day?
Studies showing performance enhancement and blood pressure reduction use around 1-3 teaspoons (4-12g) of beet powder mixed with water or juice. This is a reasonable daily dosage. Some pre-workouts contain 1-2 teaspoons per serving.
When is the best time to drink beet juice?
For exercise performance, studies show drinking beet juice 90-150 minutes before training or competing may be optimal since it allows nitrates to peak in your system. Some also prefer to drink beet juice first thing in the morning.
Does cooking beets reduce nitrates?
Some studies show boiling and roasting beets may lower nitrate content by 15-35% compared to raw beets. However, baked and pickled beets retain more nitrates. Lightly steaming beets helps retain the most nitrates.
Can you freeze beet juice or beet powder?
Yes, both beet juice and beet powder can be frozen to extend shelf life. The key is making sure beet products are sealed in an airtight container to prevent freezer burn. Thaw in the refrigerator before drinking.
In closing, both whole beets and beet powder offer tremendous nutrition to help you perform better, feel energized, improve heart health, and fight aging.
Beet juice powder stands out when you want to maximize nitrate intake for boosting nitric oxide levels before a workout or competition. Its convenience and portability also make beet powder a top choice.
However, whole beets should not be overlooked, especially for their fiber content, broad nutrient profile, and digestive health benefits.