Does cooking beets hamper their beneficial effects? Nutrition Diva answers a follow-up question to a previous tip.
After last week’s tip on beets and blood pressure, I got several follow-up questions from readers who wanted to know if cooking beets diminished the beneficial effect on blood pressure or whether the nitrates in beets can have harmful effects. If you missed last week’s tip on beets and nitrates, click here. The gist was that consuming beets and other nitrate-rich vegetables can increase nitrous oxide concentrations in the blood which, in turn, can reduce blood pressure.
Although the research that I talked about involved raw beet juice, the researchers note that nitrates are not destroyed by cooking. So, although it’s fine to eat beets raw (try shredding them into a colorful coleslaw!), cooking them won’t hamper their beneficial effects. Nor are beets the only way to get the benefits of nitrates. Leafy greens (including beet greens) are also good sources.
Finally, although I have talked about the potential dangers of nitrates and nitrites in cured meats, there’s no need to worry about nitrates in vegetables. The natural antioxidants in vegetables effectively prevent the chemical reactions that can convert nitrites into harmful compounds. Bring on the beets!
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