Doctor's Note

17-part video series? My videos were much shorter back then, but still! Here you go if you want to put the whole discovery in context and get the detailed mechanism:

Wait, that’s only 16. I think at the time I was also including Meat Additives to Diminish Toxicity.

How else can we support athletic performance? See:

On the other hand, Paleo Diets May Negate Benefits of Exercise.

It’s great that we can improve athletic performance eating a few beets, but what about people who could really benefit from a more efficient use of oxygen? That’s the subject of my next video, Oxygenating Blood With Nitrate-Rich Vegetables.

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  • Aaron

    I’m almost 31 years old, 6’2″ and 150 lbs and lead an active lifestyle. For several years I fell for the “eggs aren’t bad for you” pseudowisdom and ate up to about three per day with cheese; I also drank plenty of milk, ate red meat… Nothing was too delicious and awful for my cardiovascular system. I developed high blood pressure and didn’t go on meds. About two years ago I got serious about eating plant-based and eat pretty much like a California Adventist.

    I checked my blood pressure yesterday and today and it’s an average of about 130/82. Besides eating plant-based, I add ground flax seed to my oatmeal and drink 3 cups of hibiscus tea per day. I’m going to add more beets to my evening dinner.

    Assuming my kidneys are healthy and aren’t causing the persistent prehypertension, how long should it take for my body to heal and wash away the plaque in my arteries? Or how long should it take for my blood vessels to lessen their stiffness? I’m a little concerned here. Thanks.

    • mbglife

      Hi Aaron-
      I don’t know the answer but I’m surprised it’s not lower after 2 years. I’m not sure what a CA Adventist diet is. When I looked up the general SDA diet restrictions it says that they can drink 3 cups of milk or milk sub/day. Are you still drinking milk or having any animal products? Are you adding nuts or cocoa powder to help dilate your arteries? How much of your diet is from oil and/or fat? Drs Ornish and McDougall both advocate very low fat (10%) until you reach a healthy place and then you can have more on a maintenance mode. Do you allow yourself any refined or junk foods?

      I try to avoid all oils because they’re not whole foods and because they go rancid so quickly, causing inflammation and the opposite of what you want.

      Best of health to you.

    • Gary

      Hi Aaron, I’m twice your age, 6 ft and 150, down from 165 2 yrs ago.
      I started on my get healthy as possible diet or journey almost 2 yrs ago.
      I got my blood work done 6 mo after starting a very low fat, no meat, eggs, or dairy diet and BP was 137/89, Trig 146, Cholesterol 137, HDL 57, Glucose 70, PSA 1.7, and Vit D 18.8
      So I had some work to do.

      I made some diet changes and 2 wks ago my test was, BP 111/67 (I was shocked when the nurse told me that). Cholesterol 117, HDL 57, Trig 57, (I read the closer the Trig and the HDL are together the healthier the heart) so that was good.
      Glucose went up to 90 (maybe was the 14 watermelons I ate this summer) PSA down to 1.5, Vit D up a bit to 19.5. I see it’s very hard to get my Vit D up.

      Before this test I was eating a huge bowl of blueberries, walnuts, brazil nuts, banana, flax, 1/2 cup oatmeal, almond milk for breakfast.
      I cut my refined grains way back to just the oatmeal, quinoa, and maybe some barley for supper.
      Lunch was a large green raw drink with beans.
      Supper was a big pot of cooked veggies, beans, garlic, onions and mushrooms.

      I added more good fats including olive oil with the green drink, had fish 3 times a wk for xtra vit D and omega 3’s. More nuts and seeds.
      And I was pleased to see my morning erection came back. It was silent for 5 months there. Feeling overall stronger with pull-ups up to 11, started at 5 a yr ago. So some form of exercise most every day.
      And was eating no food after 6pm. I wanted my body to go into “repair mode” while I was sleeping instead of processing and storing food.
      So it looks like I’m on the right nutrition path with maybe some minor tweaking in about a yr and a half of major changes to my diet.

      • mbglife

        Hello Gary. Not sure if you’re talking a vit D supplement but if you are and your level won’t increase, as mine didn’t, it might be the brand. A few years ago I was talking 2k units/day and it was falling and dropped to 20. At that time I happened to see in t.v. that the fda tested various vitamins and supplements and found that less than half had anything in them. So I went on Amazon and read reviews. Only looked at ones that people said they had their blood tested before and after and found one effective. I settled on blue bonnet one-drop = 2k and stayed taking a drop a day. I am now at blood level of 40 units. I go with the one drop because it doesn’t have a taste and doesn’t have a bunch of ragged junk for the gelatin, and a tiny $20 bottle has over 900 servings, so it’s actually pretty cheap. When I get got low on D I felt 80 years old (I’m 59). Now I feel active and energetic.

        I hope this helps.

        • Gary

          Thanks for the Vit D tip Mark! I was just ready to order some more supplements. I’ll try the blue bonnet.
          The ones I had sure didn’t do much good and I even laid out in the sun 20 min throughout the summer with a measly 1 point gain…
          The Vit D seems to be my only remaining weak link to work on.

          • mbglife

            Good luck, Gary. Getting my vit D level up made all the difference for me. It took about two weeks to start feeling a change and a full month before I felt like my regular self with my vitality.

        • Stewart E.

          Just a little reinforcement on this. I was taking a 1500 unit D3 supplement when my 25OHD level showed me at about 15. Then I saw a comparable study to the one you mentioned. They indicated that they found actual D3 level to be between 30 and 70% of the declared value. Name brands v store brands made no difference. I changed brands and my levels are now around 60. D is important as you say. I like the sun but neighbor women are now more likely to call the cops than cheer if I lie naked in the sun. So I’m stuck with supplements.

          • mbglife

            Oh for those days when they cheered. {sigh}

        • Leslie

          What brand of vitamin D, and what form (d3 or d2)? Vegan D or not? Thanks.

          • mbglife

            D3, 2,000 units/drop, Blue Bonnet, from sheep’s wool. They have another one from fish livers. I’ve never used that one.

    • Matthew Smith

      Have you heard of the Pauling therapy? It uses Vitamin C, Lysine, and Proline to remove plaque from arteries. Are you taking vitamin D? Vitamin D can strip away plaque from arteries. The following link describes three methods of removing plaque from the arteries. I would say without knowing your cholesterol number it could take several months of a very low cholesterol diet to remove all the plaque from your arteries. Very fresh vegetables contain lots of MSM, which can help lower blood pressure quickly, as can garlic. Congratulations on getting your number down and your improved lifestyle.

  • siriusfarm

    Ever since I watched Dr Greger’s video Doping with Beet Juice last year I have added fresh beets to my salad at lunch and drink at least a cup of beet juice prior to by afternoon bike ride. Even for a 50 year old, my performance over the past 12 months has increased fairly substantially. Don’t know if it is all due to the beets but it hasn’t hurt and they are quite delicious!

  • Wade Patton

    How about I grow some beets in dirt? Cut out those lying and deceiving marketers and industry groups, just buy seeds from your favorite seed exchange or garden supplier. I realize that not everyone has dirt or containers in which they can put dirt. But dirt is available to a lot of folks.

    [mini rant for monday]
    Or how about we reward the companies that are small and dynamic and respond well to shifts in consumer demand WITHOUT trying to cram everything into the same mold and machinery and marketing that the big established companies consistently tend to do. That’s what is wrong with big companies getting bigger. They are the cancers, consuming up the competition in the guise of expanding their product line when all they really are doing is cutting out competition to capture or regain market share. They, as machinations of business only care about profits. The people involved: The board gets to blame the greedy shareholders, the shareholders get to blame the management, the nutritionally starved public takes the fall and the INC has lawyers to protect it.

    They generally water-down and eventually kill that new dynamicism and we get back to the same old tired machinery crankin’ out the same old crap with NEW and IMPROVED MARKETING! whoohoo!

    wait, where you going with my soapbox?…okay now for coffee. Good Monday morning all.

    • Veganrunner

      Wade that was all before coffee? I am impressed! Must be your WFPB lifestyle.

      • Wade Patton

        I have to be careful how much of my mind i share. I finished up writing a song parody _with_ coffee!

    • Charzie

      I’m a huge fan of beets and dirt, I think I just showered off a couple pounds of it from rucking in the “garden”…(which means anywhere I can dig up more useless grass and plant food!) I am learning about permaculture and having a great time! Today I got some seeds from our local 4-H sponsored recreation facility, for FREE! I was expecting a few packets and got about 30! How awesome is that?! They are trying to encourage people to grow their own food, and I for one am thrilled to participate! I wish more people would take back their birthright to healthy, organic food and stop relying on those big companies you referenced, who are effectively poisoning us in so many different ways! People always ask me how I can afford to eat healthy…I can barely afford housing, but growing my own food and foraging saves me a bundle, gets me outside and exercising, and gives me great satisfaction to be able to provide for myself with food grown well. When I was a kid, everyone had a garden, but these days I rarely see any, a real shame. My plea to everyone…plant something to grow and eat today, even if it’s only a jar of sprouts or a pot of herbs. You’ll be glad you did! Five years ago I could barely move and was very sick…sad to say my doctors made it worse with their pill pushing and procedures. I had to find a better way…and did thanks to REAL doctors like MG!!! Thanks to the life savers, I can savor life again!!!

  • Martin Miller Poynter

    Interesting, not surprised that whole beets likewise improved athletic performance. But better questions, which I do not believe was covered in the video (despite the headline) nor in the study (which compared whole beets to a berry placebo), is whole beets v. juiced beets. Probably there haven’t been studies done yet on this. As much interest as there is in this topic for professional sports teams, you’d think the studies will be performed. I’d like to see studies comparing whole v. juice, whole fresh v. whole canned, and fresh juice v. canned juice.

  • gary55305

    Forgive my ignorance if this has been answered in previous videos (and it seems to be implied by the pic of the can of beets in this video) but are canned beets just about as good as fresh beets? Thanks!

    • Joseph Gonzales R.D.

      I think as a rule of thumb fresh is always best. Dr. Greger does compare how many fresh beets equal whole – “They gave physically fit men and women a cup and a half of baked beets, which is equal to about a can of beets” but I am not sure if they have the same efficacy? I might note even the “red bread” was associated with lower blood pressure and improved the ability of arteries to relax and dilate naturally, thererfore I’d expect canned beets to be effective.

      • Will cooked beets have the same results or must they be baked?

        • Joseph Gonzales R.D.

          I think in the study they used baked. I’d say whatever what you’ll eat the most is best :-)

        • Jeffrey Baker

          Raw beets will catch on fire in the microwave. No problem reheating cooked beets in microwave though.

          • englishvinal

            Your nice healthy beets become toxic and very DEAD after you put them into your microwave… so does everything else… take your microwave to a flea market and sell it… there are fools out there who are buying brand new microwaves, so you might as well let them pay you to take the evil thing off your hands… and they can eat dead food instead of you.

          • Thea

            englishvinal: I don’t know why you say that about the microwave. The following article does a good job of dispelling myths about the microwave: This is a science-based site, and the article I linked to is all fully backed by actual research.

  • cgins

    I’m curious if anyone else has experience with adding beets and the impact on athletic performance. With a marathon in two weeks, if adding beets and/or beet juice from now until then would help some, I’m all for it. Unfortunately beet juice before the race will just send me to the port-a-potties. Maybe could take some and drink it as I run.

    • Wade Patton

      I haven’t raced in a while but plan to this Winter. Beets will be on the menu, but most of my performance gain and reduced weight (important in cycling) is clearly from going WFPB. It would however be foolish for me to leave beets off the grocery list. Once i get deep into training I could play with beet consumption and performance as I do have a powermeter (but I don’t fool with HRM’s any more). It would only be a study of me though-hardly clinical.

  • Phyllis

    My husband, who was a longtime smoker, has interstitial lung disease (oxygen from lungs to bloodstream is lower than “normal”). Do you think eating beets would improve his condition in the same way it helps athletes?

    • MarthaLA

      Why not try adding a single beet a day for a week (very conservative approach; canned are usually small ones), then move up to the usual half-cup serving a day. Except for truly allergic persons, whole food isn’t likely to have adverse effects.

  • Maybe change the title to “Whole beets & juice…” since it doesnt actually directly compare the different forms?

  • Will

    Does the whole beet consumption have the same anti-hypertensive properties as the juice does?

  • hlu

    Off topic but can you comment on the video: Dr. McDougal says that soy isolate has causes spikes in IGF1.

    • Joseph Gonzales R.D.

      Soy protein isolate can spike IGF-I. I have a few notes and more research on it here: I am not sure their is sufficient clinical data on humans though.

  • Donna

    What about cocoa powder or cacao powder? I recall a video you did that it improves energy in CFS patients. Same NO mechanism as beets? or different?

  • Sam

    Would canned beet work? How about those expensive freeze-dried beet powders? (I do eat whole beets steamed occasionally but can’t stand the smell.)

  • Penxx

    I would like to know if golden beets have the same affects on health as red beets.

  • Mike

    I am an avid cyclist and occasional racer, so I was keenly interested when I saw the Doping with Beet Juice video and the subsequent series. I eat beets in salads and smoothies. Would beet juice made from the freeze dried beet crystals, which can be dissolved into drinks and smoothies, share the same positive benefits as the actual beet juice? Although not scientifically relevant, I have been told personally by a winner of the Giro d’italia that he drank crystal beet juice the night before each stage of the race.

  • VegGuy

    Besides beets, what other nitrate-rich vegetables improve athletic performance? Do nitrate rich greens work just as well as beets?

  • tamari

    oven baked beets, grated +wallnuts, ground+ garlic+sliced onions, raw, + cilantro+ coriander+ lemon juice+JUST MAYO+whole grain mustard. actually other vegetables are pretty delicious with such dressing. cabbage, boiled and chopped, spinach, carrots,,( rwa or cooked). fried eggplants, usually I do not use MAYO, just wallnuts

  • nodelord

    I wonder if there have been any comparisons to arugula on athletic performance

  • Slim055 .

    It would seem pretty easy to blend the beets to a liquid and use that rather than water in making whole-grain bread. I usually make my own bread. I’ll try this sometime soon. Maybe I’ll be able to detect a difference in my blood pressure. All the best.

  • Caitlin

    Does anyone know if beet root powder is equally effective?

  • Coralie Young

    Such an interesting article again -much appreciation for sharing you knowledge with us. I must say though that I am somewhat surprised that you arent familiar with the Adventist Health studies that have been conducted over the past 40 years or so. In my humble opinion they are very significant studies that, among other things, promote a plant based diet and showcase a group of people that are recognized as some of the healthiest in the world.

  • John

    I ferment beets, so the microbes eat the sugar and leave the antioxidants and enzymes uncooked. I also prefer the flavor that way. Not so cloyingly sweet. Then I put it on top of my enormous green salad for dinner each night. Sure helps when I’m playing 4 hours of baseball, stealing bases while playing with 25 year olds. I’m the opposite: 52. John S

  • vegank

    That’s great ! Beets are my favorite and so easy to grow.
    I was wondering though if we should be concerned about the theory that too much Beets can make you more susceptible to developing kidney stones.

  • Wade Patton

    I’m yet trying to find local amla powder to incorporate into my homespun seasoning salt.

  • Billy Dee

    Could you ask Dr Greger to review the below study and to see if there are humans that actually do better consuming a high fat low carb diet than a high carb low fat diet.: My experience is that I do best on high fat low carb, whether than be because I am obese and when I eat high carb low fat and spill saturated fat out of my fat cells, it creates ceramides etc which increase my insulin resistance and increase my pulse pressure, or if I am genetically adapted from Neanderthal genetics to consume fat primarily. I know Dr Greger’s agenda is for everyone to eat plant based but are there ppl who would do better either on a plant based HFLC diet and God forbid consuming animal products than eating a HCLF plant based diet. If you look at Kempner’s Rice and Fruit diet, about 35% of his patients did not respond favorably. Thanks for your help, I just wanted to do what is best.




    Neanderthal ancestry drives evolution of lipid catabolism in contemporary Europeans

    Ekaterina E. Khrameeva,

    Katarzyna Bozek,

    Liu He,

    Zheng Yan,

    Xi Jiang,

    Yuning Wei,

    Kun Tang,

    Mikhail S. Gelfand,

    Kay Prufer,

    Janet Kelso,

    Svante Paabo,

    Patrick Giavalisco,

    Michael Lachmann

    & Philipp Khaitovich

    • Joseph Gonzales R.D.

      I am not sure Dr. Greger has an agenda to put everyone on a plant-based diet. My role here is to help translate the science into practical steps leading to a healthier lifestyle, but ultimately it’s up to each individual to decide what’s best for them. I suggest watching the videos on paleo diets, as different conclusions are made regarding ancient diets. Furthermore I did not get the idea that a high fat diet was suggested based on the abstract from that study.

      • Billy Dee

        Thanks Joseph, Maybe he does not have that agenda, but I do not remember any video that he ever suggest you should eat animal products, but maybe there is nothing to support that. I reviewed the videos, and plant based atkins confirmed that I should remain vegan. The video on exercise/insulin was kind of cherry picked. He chose the few things that had a lower insulin index than beef. Based on the data, a bacon, egg and cheese omelet is an awesome choice to keep insulin levels low. Too bad every other aspect will kill you lol

        No matter, I was surprised at the lentils and baked beans having more insulin response than beef because I believe I saw somewhere that navy beans by themselves having a fairly low insulin index. I did however notice that both the baked beans and lentils were in a tomato sauce. I found that interesting, because I was on a 100% fruit and greens diet, losing weight at 2lb/day for nine straight days, the only thing I added were tomatoes and small bell peppers to my spinach drink and bam! my weight loss stopped and ankles started to swell for a week until I stopped eating any nightshade vegetables. My belief is that nightshade vegetables particularly tomatoes increase insulin response. So maybe it is not the pasta but the tomato sauce that makes it so fattening.

        I am now eating a plant based HFLC diet for the last 5 days and my fast blood sugar levels have dropped from 130s to near 100, and my weight has dropped 7 lbs and pulse pressure has dropped less than 50 from between 60 and 70 psi. Nuts and seeds, fruits – mainly berries and greens seem to be good choices, maybe beans too but I wish I knew the insulin index for beans alone. My only concern is that I am getting about 500% of Manganese.

        • Joseph Gonzales R.D.

          Some folks will react to nightshades, but very few in my experience. So glad you know what affects you and that you’re on a healthy track!

          • Billy Dee

            Why would the insulin index be so high for lentils around 60? Navy beans by themselves have a really low insulin index around 20, now I understand the baked beans probably had sugar added but both the lentils and baked beans were served in tomato sauce. If you review the study, obviously It is not my insulin response, it is everyone that they used to determine the insulin response, therefore, is it possible that tomato sauce tremendously increases insulin response in the majority of ppl. When you say folks do not react to nightshades, I assume you were not measuring their insulin response to tomatoes rather do they have arthritis, etc. btw when I was checking around to see if my hypothesis was insane, I found Dr. Bernstein also recommends that his diabetic patience limit consumption of tomatoes.

          • Billy Dee

            Thanks Joseph, I have one more question, I am concerned about DHA, I am 54 yrs old, am not sure I can make DHA effectively. I tried dha from algae oil but I start twitching, I am allergic to algae, I use to get violently sick to my stomach when I consumed spirulina, my son also started twitching when he too started taking algae oil. So I found Now brand, dha250, it is from fish oil, I take one a day. I eat alot of chia and flaxseed, but most studies show you can convert ala to epa but not so much to dha. Do you have any recommendations? I also drink either broccoli juice or red cabbage juice every other day, should I take two fish oil pills at the same time as the sulforaphane will maximize my liver detox system? Do you think there is much bmaa in the fish oil. btw it is the only non vegan thing I consume.

          • Joseph Gonzales R.D.

            First check with your doctor about what’s best. Then I suggest looking into a yeast-based DHA if algae is a problem. Look up spirulina and fish oil in our “topics” section we have tons of infomation! Also, check out Dr. Greger’s optimal nutrition recommendations: the verdicts is not clear if we need extra DHA, but as a safety net some folks choose to take, which isn’t a bad idea.

          • Billy Dee

            I seem to have a bad reaction to nutritional yeast as well. I may not take any dha for a few months and then be tested for dha levels. Thanks so much.

    • Rebecca Cody

      Google Pegan diet or paleo vegan for a largely plant based diet that includes some meat and probably some fat. Not sure. I think the doctor is Mark Hyman. I agree we don’t all thrive on the same diet. My heart is with vegan but I have a hard time giving up all the fat, too. I don’t eat a lot of it, but can’t quite get rid of all of it.

  • J_a_s_o_n

    “Block Rock’n Beets” – Love it!!

  • Julie

    Phew, I just got through the 17-part video series. Lots of interesting information, Dr. Greger–thank you!

  • Atlantisarch

    Missleading title, thereis no direct comparison of effect of juice Vs whole plant. Just a report they are improving the same direction, plus some side infos.
    Well, in France finding beet is easy and never seen beet juice anyway. But, reporting to the mass some scientific facts should be non missleading, even in the title.

  • Aze (found in small amounts in beets) When Aze gets into human proteins it can alter collagen, keratin, hemoglobin, and protein folding . This is copied from, Which would suggest that large amounts of beets should not be consumed. However, this article does not say that they are only referring to raw beets. Does anyone know, if we are to consume large amounts ie. a cup a day, if it should be raw or cooked? Now the video talked about baked beets but when one talks about juice, one thinks you are talking about raw beets. Is Aze in cooked beets as well as raw beets? Because, I don’t think I want to eat raw beets everyday because of the toxic element. I’m confused.

  • Hoppy

    Given that use of antimicrobial mouthwashes may directly decrease the number of lingual beneficial bacteria which are key to the oxygenation function of beet nitrates, does use of xylitol gum(used to help fight tooth decay) also have a detrimental effect on lingual bacteria?

  • jwaand

    Beet Powder Fiber Question? The Powder containers always say zero fiber, normally beets are a good source of fiber, apparently the fiber is lost in processing. Any opinion if Beet Juice Powders are beneficial.

  • Joel Santos

    Hi Dr. Greger! I don’t mind eating beets and raw garlic daily for good health but I’m afraid that I have a tendency to overdo things that seem “healthy.” So I’d just like to ask how many cloves of raw garlic and how much steamed red beets should I eat in a day for optimum health. Some people tell me that too much raw garlic can hurt your stomach.

  • Joel Santos

    Hi Dr Greger! I don’t mind eating raw garlic and red beets every day for good health. I’d just like to ask how much I should eat though. I’m afraid that I have a tendency to overdo things that seem “health.” Some people warn me that too much raw garlic can damage your stomach.

    • Thanks for your comment Joel!

      As far as I know, the only side effect from over consuming garlic is the smell.

      Hope this answer helps!

  • bobble

    i don’t understand why people aren’t willing to change their diet. i know i was cautious at first but once i did it i was so thrilled that i did. Becoming vegan is the best thing i have ever done for myself!