Can beet juice help treat erectile dysfunction?
The compounds in beet juice do pose many benefits to the human body, and some may explain why a lot of men say beet juice helps them avoid ED.
Benefits of beet juice for ED
Beet juice contains compounds that are beneficial to the human body.
There is currently no strong scientific evidence to support the claim that beet juice is good for ED.
In spite of this, many men say regularly drinking beet juice helps them get or keep an erection. There may be a few reasons for this.
Beet juice helps the body produce nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is often used to open up the blood vessels and is sold as a dietary supplement for ED. Nitric oxide helps keep the pressure in the corpus cavernosum necessary to keep an erection.
The corpus cavernosum is a sponge-like tissue that becomes engorged with blood during an erection. There must be enough pressure in the tissue to keep the blood trapped and to maintain an erection. Nitric oxide helps sustain this pressure.
Beet juice may contribute to this because it is high in nitrates, and the body turns these nitrates into nitric oxide.
Reduced blood pressure
Beets also appear to affect other circulation factors of ED.
High blood pressure may influence ED, as it may make it difficult for blood to flow to the penis to enable an erection.
Research has found that foods such as beets that are high in nitrates can lower the blood pressure in people with hypertension. Drinking one cup of beet juice each day may be enough to experience this benefit.
In cases where ED is caused by high blood pressure, this would, theoretically, relieve symptoms of ED.
Cyclic guanosine monophosphate or cGMP helps arteries relax, which could increase blood flow to the penis. Many ED drugs work by making the body recycle cGMP.
A recent study found that high nitrate foods might also increase the amount of cGMP in the male body. This could mean foods such as beets may potentially help men keep an erection.
How to use beet juice for ED
Similarly to many juices, beet juice is best served fresh. Processing the root and stem of fresh beets in a juicer can create beet juice very quickly. Many grocery stores or juice bars also sell beet juice.
Beet juice has an earthy flavor that may be unpleasant to some people. It can be diluted with celery juice, ginger, apples, or oranges to make it sweeter.
Beet juice can be taken alone or with other juices. Many juice bars mix beet with other root vegetables, such as carrots, radish, and ginger.
There are no guidelines or an approved recommended daily intake for beet juice. Drinking beet juice in moderation is usually safe, however.
It is sensible for an individual to talk to a doctor before adding regular beet juice to their diet if they have any conditions or takes medications that may be affected.
Health benefits of beet juice
Beets contain fiber, iron, folate, and potassium.
Beets are very nutritious and offer many benefits for the body, beyond helping with ED. Most notably, beets contain:
Beets also contain fiber and some protein, so adding some whole beets to the diet is a healthful choice. Much of this fiber is removed in the juicing process, but the beets can be roasted, added to soups, or cooked in other ways.
Compounds in beets called betalains also provide some helpful benefits to the body. As one study notes, these compounds may be helpful antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents. They may even help protect against certain cancers, though more research is needed to confirm this.
Beet juice is available to purchase in many health food stores and online.
Risks and considerations
When taken in moderation, most people can enjoy beet juice safely and regularly without the risk of side effects.
The most common side effect is a condition called beeturia, where the urine turns a reddish color after a person eats beets. This is normal and will go away once the person stops eating beets.
Nitrates can dilate blood vessels in the body and lower blood pressure, so anyone taking medication for high blood pressure may want to talk to their doctor before including drink beet juice in their diet.
A recent study found that a diet high in beets did not decrease the blood pressure of people who were taking high blood pressure medication, but it is best to take precautions.
People with diabetes should also be aware that beets are high in sugar. When they are juiced, most of the fiber is removed so that the sugar may cause glucose spikes in the bloodstream. It is best to monitor blood sugar levels while eating beats and make any necessary changes in insulin.
Anyone with a history of urinary stones caused by calcium oxalate may want to talk to their doctor before drinking beet juice regularly. Beets are high in oxalates, which may bind to calcium in the kidneys and form these stones.
Doctors may suggest a way of eating beets, such as drinking the juice with a source of calcium, to avoid a buildup in the kidneys.
Other lifestyle changes that may improve ED
Lifestyle changes such as exercise and meditation may improve ED symptoms.
Lifestyle choices are important contributing factors for ED. Making some healthy changes in the diet and daily activities may help prevent ED in some cases.
Some habit changes may help with ED, such as cutting back on excessive drinking or smoking. Other lifestyle changes that may improve ED symptoms include:
- stress-reducing habits, including meditation or counseling
- physical exercise and living a more active lifestyle
- maintaining a healthy weight
- talking with a sexual partner to avoid anxiety and insecurity
Occasional ED is normal and not usually a cause for concern. Lifestyle choices, lack of exercise, and even a stressful day may impact the libido and make it difficult to be in the mood for sex.
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle may be the best way to prevent ED, and adding beet juice or whole beets to the diet may be a step in the right direction. Using beet juice for ED seems promising, but is not yet proven.
Other cases of ED may not be so simple. Anyone experiencing ED with other symptoms, such as difficulty urinating or premature ejaculation, should talk to their doctor for a proper diagnosis.