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Are Beets Good for a Person With Diabetes? Sugar Content, Glycemic Index
Diabetes

Are Beets Good for a Person With Diabetes? Sugar Content, Glycemic Index

HR_author_photo_Edibel
Written by Edibel Quintero, RD | Medically reviewed by Medically reviewed by Rosmy Barrios, MD check
Published on 2022 August 19
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7 min

Beets have been known to have many health benefits, from improving blood flow to promoting a healthy heart. People with diabetes are often on a restricted diet, but it’s time to find out if beet is a good choice if you have diabetes.

are beets good for a person with diabetes

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If you or your loved one is living with diabetes, it’s very important to have a diet that’s helpful in managing sugar levels. Beets are vegetables that are enriched with essential nutrients that reduce your risk of developing higher blood sugar levels.

Also, beets, particularly beetroot juice, are great for your cardiovascular health and can help prevent heart disease. Beets are high in fiber, meaning they can improve exercise performance. Exercising is an activity that’s encouraged for people with diabetes, and for this reason, the American diabetes association has recommended eating beets for people with diabetes.

Are Beets Good for People With Diabetes?

Beets are very good for people with diabetes as they help increase blood flow circulation. For those with diabetes, blood clots are very common as a result of damage to blood vessels. In addition to that, it contains antioxidants that can aid in reducing internal oxidative stress.

Beets are naturally rich in vitamin C and have no cholesterol, making them vital in lowering blood sugar levels. Incorporating beets into your diet can help with high blood pressure levels, and hypertensive patients can even benefit from it.

Hypertension is common in people with diabetes, and because beet juice can help with blood pressure management, it can be beneficial to eat beets regularly.

Drinking beetroot juice can help reduce diabetes complications such as eye and nerve damage. It contains alpha lipoic acid, which is great for reducing nerve damage in people with high blood sugar levels. It’s also rich in nutrients like betalain, which can improve insulin sensitivity.

Is beetroot good for type 2 diabetes?

Beetroot contains enough fiber, and increased dietary fiber consumption helps control blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes.

It helps maintain low blood sugar levels and keeps you fuller for a long period. The high concentration of metabolites found in beetroot might help reduce insulin resistance.

Beet contains more antioxidant properties than most vegetables, and they are a good source of alpha lipoic acid, making it helpful in healing nerve damage in people living with type 2 diabetes.

One study revealed that people with type 2 diabetes who ate 3 ounces of raw beetroot noticed an improvement in their metabolism and cognitive function.

Beets Sugar Content

Beetroot juice is a healthy consumption for people with diabetes. However, if you are concerned about its sugar content, you don’t need to be.

It contains a moderate amount of sugar; plus, it’s enriched with lots of fiber, and it’s very low in calories.

A 100g of beets has 10g of carbohydrate, 2.8g of dietary fiber, and 6.76g of sugar.

Beets Glycemic Index

The glycemic index is the comparative measure of how fast sugar levels spike after eating a meal, without regard for serving sizes.

Regular beets have a glycemic index of 64, and this is considered moderate on the GI scale, although it’s higher than other carbohydrate-rich foods. However, it’s unlikely you’ll consume enough beets to drastically affect your glucose level.

What might have an impact on your glucose level is the glycemic load of beets. Beets have a glycemic load of 5, which is very low, and that’s because a large portion of their carbs is indigestible dietary fibers.

So, when consumed in moderation, it’s appropriate for individuals who have diabetes and those who wish to improve their glucose tolerance.

Do Beets Raise Blood Sugar Levels?

Research has shown that beet juice can improve insulin sensitivity in obese and nonobese adults. This research suggests that beet is helpful to individuals with diabetes who want to lower blood sugar levels.

It’s safe to include beets in your diabetes meal plan as it contains vital nutrients that keep the body from developing higher blood sugar levels.

7 Health Benefits of Beets for Diabetes

Consuming beet juice can help lower blood pressure, increase your exercise performance for any physical activity, and lower high-risk diabetes complications.

Let’s have a broader look at the maximum benefits of beet juice.

#1 Beetroot juice can help reduce insulin resistance

One of the metabolites present in beets is “nitrate,” and studies have shown that nitrates can help with insulin resistance. Low nitric oxide is directly associated with low insulin resistance, and the consumption of beets can increase its formation.

Nitrate is also a metabolite found in human blood vessels, but for people with diabetes and cardiovascular risk factors, it’s considerably low. However, synthetic nitrates found in preserved foods can cause harm to one’s health when consumed in large quantities, but the natural nitrates found in beets have beneficial effects.

These nitrates can help in reducing blood pressure and sugar levels as well. One study showed that dietary nitrate supplementation can increase and provide sustained blood pressure lowering.

Individuals with diabetes will benefit greatly from consuming beet and other dietary nitrate-rich foods.

#2 Beets can improve exercise performance

Exercising for even a few minutes can help you both physically and mentally. It can increase your blood glucose level and improve flexibility and strength.

When you consume beetroot, it increases blood nitric oxide, which improves your muscle ability to take up oxygen during exercises or any high-intensity workout. Exercising is known to lower the risk of cardiovascular disorders for people with diabetes.

#3 Beetroot juice can help lower blood pressure

People with diabetes have a high risk of developing heart complications, especially those with type 2 diabetes. High blood pressure is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease and microvascular complications such as kidney stones and eye and nerve damage.

Beets contain nitric oxide, which is a vasodilator, and help expand the muscles in your blood vessels, reducing blood pressure levels.

A study showed that hypertensive individuals who consumed beet juice (one cup) every day noticed a significant drop in their blood pressure level, and some experienced an elasticity in their blood vessels, which resulted in better blood flow.

Drinking beet juice and inorganic nitrate were also associated with a significant reduction in systolic blood pressure levels.

You can always opt for canned beets, but make sure you select the type with low sodium and always rinse before eating. Rinsing vegetables reduces about 60% of their salt, and this is particularly helpful for those who want to control their blood pressure.

#4 Beets are high in antioxidants

Beetroot juice contains a lot of antioxidants, including flavonoids, betalains, and phenolic acids. These antioxidants help balance blood sugar levels after each meal. Plus, antioxidants play an important role when it comes to inflammation caused by arthritis, cancer, and liver disease.

The betalains, in particular, protect the cellular components from any oxidative injury.

In fact, research has shown that the predominant component of beet plays a vital role in improving the early phase insulin response and blood glucose function.

#5 Beets may lower the increased risk of diabetes complication

Diabetes can damage the small and large blood vessels, and this can lead to serious complications that may affect the kidney, liver, and eyes, such as diabetic foot disease, retinopathy, and cardiovascular disease.

The antioxidants in beets can reduce free radicals in the body, which are unstable molecules that can damage your blood cells. The cellular damage caused by free radicals is referred to as “oxidative stress,” and this has been linked to several diseases, cancer inclusive.

When you have few free radicals in your body, you are at lesser risk of developing any diabetes complications.

#6 Increases your vegetable intake

Compared to other vegetables, beets are low in carbohydrates, and they can help you spice up your diet. With beets, you can use both the roots and leaves; there’s zero need to waste any part of it.

You can sautee the leaves using garlic and olive oil, or you can always bake, roast, or eat them raw.

#7 Beets are high in fiber and low in carbohydrates

Beets have high fiber levels, and this helps in balancing high blood sugar. Increased fiber intake is good for diabetes as it helps slow down digestion, thus preventing the unstable rise in glucose.

Dietary fibers are important and should be a part of your diet, as they help reduce the risk of various diseases. 

Beets are comparable in carbohydrates to cabbage and significantly lower than one cup of cooked oatmeal. For every 3oz of beets, you have 8g of carbohydrate. So, if you are particular about carbohydrate ingestion, then beets are just right for you.

The carbs in beetroots are simple sugars like fructose and glucose.

How to Consume Beets

Beets are very versatile and can be included in a dish with other vegetables like cabbages, bell peppers, and onions. They can be used in smoothies, salads, and stews.

Including beet and other non-starchy vegetables into your diet will not only reduce the increased risk of health complications but will also add more flavor to your meal.

Another delicious way to eat beetroot is using it in a yogurt dip. Grate boiled beetroot and pour it into your favorite flavored yogurt; you can also add some spices to make it taste better.

Beetroot is also an amazing addition to risottos, or you can try reginetta pasta with beetroot and sour cream if you want to have a fuller meal.

If you are unsure of when to eat beets, take them as a pre or post-workout snack to get the energy boost you need. You can also include it in your keto diet, as keto is good for managing diabetes.

A Word From Our RD

Beets are good sources of essential vitamins and minerals that have been associated with numerous health benefits like improving blood flow and lowering blood pressure. Other nutrients you can find in beets include potassium, iron, and vitamin A.

Beetroots are highly nutritious and can improve your overall health when you include them in a balanced diet. Beet juice can be used as a base for smoothies and vegetable cocktails, and the most delicious juicing combinations for one serving include:

  • One small piece of ginger and two apples, with one large beet
  • One large beet, half cup of blueberries, one cup of strawberry, two apples, and ice

However, you need to be careful with the number of beets you consume. Though you’ll need to eat a whole lot of beetroot for it to pose a health risk, you still need to eat it in moderation.

In some cases, concurrent beet juice can make your urine pink/red, a condition called beeturia, but that shouldn’t be a cause for alarm because it’ll clear off after a few days. Beetroots are high in betalains, hence the urine coloration.

Lastly, when buying beets from your local store, you’d be overwhelmed by different options because of their nutritional value; just pick one with the highest antioxidant value. You can also choose to buy them raw; that way, you get to use their stalks for a salad meal.

To increase the nutritional value of beets, you can either boil or roast them. If, after preparing it, you aren’t satisfied with the flavor, consider adding balsamic vinegar to spice up the taste.

Conclusion

Beets are versatile and can be consumed by anyone, but it’s especially helpful for those without enough insulin. When you consume beetroot often, you’ll notice a significant improvement in your health, but consult your doctor before including it in your meal plan.

In order to reduce the severity of complications associated with diabetes, you need to include antioxidants in your diet. To be on the safe side, always check your sugar levels before and after consuming beets.

HR_author_photo_Edibel
Written by
Edibel Quintero is a medical doctor who graduated in 2013 from the University of Zulia and has been working in her profession since then. She specializes in obesity and nutrition, physical rehabilitation, sports massage and post-operative rehabilitation. Edibel’s goal is to help people live healthier lives by educating them about food, exercise, mental wellness and other lifestyle choices that can improve their quality of life.
Medically reviewed byRosmy Barrios, MD
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