Red is the New Green

August 29, 2017
Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS

Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS

Award-winning nutritionist and New York Times bestselling author.

Weight loss, improved digestion, and more.

We often associate green with health and nutrition, but what about red? I have one specific rich-colored veggie in mind that you simply must add to your weekly menus. It’s tasty, versatile, and, of course, as nutritious as can be.

Can you guess?

It’s one of the most regenerative foods for your body—beets! It’s hard to keep up with their ever-expanding list of benefits, which seems to grow longer by the day. Beets aid digestion, thin the bile, cleanse the liver, alkalize the blood, and even improve cognitive function and sports performance. The GreenMedInfo database lists beets’ therapeutic actions as antihypertensive, lipid-lowering, detoxifying, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antibacterial, hepatoprotective, neuroprotective, and anticancer— which is quite the résumé for one food group.

Full of Vital Vitamins

Beets are rich in potassium, manganese, copper, magnesium, phosphorous, vitamin C, iron, folate, vitamin B6, nitrates, and fiber—among others. Their carotenoid pigments (betalains) have a number of benefits as well. Beet greens and yellow beetroots are rich in lutein and zeaxanthin, which benefit your eyes and nervous system. The betalains partner with glutathione to help your body detox. The fiber in beets helps prevent constipation, and their nitrates boost endurance. Just one single dose of beet juice has been shown to improve cognitive function.

If you’re concerned about weight loss, beets are your best friend because of their benefits for your liver and gallbladder. First, beets are rich in betaine, which thins the bile and helps prevent gallstones. Betaine is a derivative of choline and is found in the peel and fleshy part of the beet. Betaine is also a rich source of hydrochloric acid and triggers the release of bile by your gallbladder—which, it is hoped, you still possess. Betaine is known for its ability to reduce homocysteine levels by conversion to methionine. Homocysteine is a toxic amino acid that increases your risk for cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis. Betaine also increases serotonin, which can boost mood.

The Two B’s

Beets help build strong bile. What does bile have to do with losing weight? If you don’t already know, bile is responsible for breaking down fats so they can be used for fuel, instead of padding for your hips and thighs. And bile requires the assistance of your gallbladder.

The gallbladder is a muscular pear-shaped organ next to your liver. Your liver produces about 1 to 1½ quarts of bile per day, which it makes from cholesterol. Your liver sends bile to your gallbladder for storage and concentration. Adding bile to the food in your gut is like adding soap to your dishwater—it breaks down and disperses the fat. When fats pass from your stomach into your intestine, your gallbladder receives a message to release bile in order to emulsify the fats, which prepares them for further processing by the pancreatic enzyme lipase. Once bile is used up, your liver must produce more of it, and it uses cholesterol for this. Therefore, beets help optimize cholesterol levels.

When bile is insufficient or too thick and “sludgy,” oversized fat globules make their way into your bloodstream. Because they’re not properly broken down, your body can’t use them for fuel, so it stores them in fat cells instead . . . helloooo cellulite. Bile is also a powerful antioxidant that helps detoxify your liver.

Bile acids have multiple functions such as increasing the metabolic activity of brown fat, flushing little gallstones out of the liver, improving insulin sensitivity, stimulating the production of active thyroid hormone in fat cells, and helping your body absorb calcium, iron, and fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. The latest research shows that bile acids also trigger regeneration in damaged areas of the liver.

With or Without a Gallbladder…

Beets are not a substitute for bile acids, but their betaine does stimulate and protect your liver and bile ducts.

If you’ve had your gallbladder removed, building up your bile is even more important. Gallbladder removal is one of the most common surgeries in the United States today. Without a gallbladder to store bile, the bile continuously trickles into your intestine regardless of whether you’ve consumed fat. Then, when you do consume a fatty meal, there is no reserve, and over time this can result in packing on the pounds, as well as developing nutritional deficiencies.

The last way beets can help you is by acting as a bile sequestrant. A significant portion of spent bile acids is reabsorbed by your body, from your intestine back into your bloodstream, along with the toxins bound to them. Beets come to the rescue! Many vegetables are natural “bile sequestrants,” meaning they bind to bile acids in your intestine and prevent their reabsorption so they can be eliminated via your stool. A USDA study compared the bile-binding potential of various veggies—cabbage, cauliflower, mustard greens, broccoli, kale, and several others—and beets topped the list.

The Best Beets

When selecting fresh beets, note that the leaves last only a few days in your fridge, but the roots can stay fresh for two or three weeks. Also, it’s best to store them separately. They are many ways to enjoy beets in a meal, but do opt for steaming your beetroots regularly, as it significantly improves its bile acid–binding capacity.

For an easy to use reference of the whole rainbow of the world’s most nutrient-dense foods, order your copy of The NEW Fat Flush Foods.

Related Articles and Podcasts

Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS, is an award-winning New York Times bestselling author of more than thirty books including The Fat Flush Plan series and her latest book, Radical Metabolism. She’s been rewriting the rules of nutrition for more than 40 years and is internationally recognized as a pioneer in the field of diet, detox and women’s health issues. 

For a FREE daily dose of tips and strategies for maintaining healthy weight, conquering insomnia, and much more…check out my Radical Health Tips.

I’d like to meet and greet you on my Facebook groups, so won’t you check us out at the Radical Metabolism RevolutionFat Flush Nation, or my Inner Circle!


  1. leza

    Does Dr Gittleman have a book about after the change? About menopause, not perimenopause

  2. Team ALG

    Dear Leza: Check out “Hot Times” on Amazon.

  3. lourdes

    What a great eye opener article. I am a new fan to beets. Will put this knowledge to good use, as I only use them in juice (once every couple of years!).
    Question: aree they supposed to be cooked when eaten whole? How are they prepared steamed? How do I know they are ready? Any recipes?

  4. Team ALG

    Hi Lourdess: Beets can be shredded in a salad and eaten raw or steamed…. Lovely beet recipes in the New Fat Flush Cookbook 🙂

  5. Kim

    Are beets considered high-oxalate? I suffer from joint pain if I eat too much raw spinach or kale for example. But I don’t have a gall bladder to help with bile storage

    • Team ALG

      Hi Kim: Raw beets are high in oxalates but cooking them can cut levels about 25%. You may wish to take Bile Builder instead of eating beets, to help with fat digestion since you don’t have a gallbladder. Bile Builder does have a little beet root in it.



    • Team ALG

      Granny Gwen, Beets are on phase 2 because of the carbohydrate content. You can add them to the FF soup then. If you make borsch with beets and onions and carrots, it would be a phase 2 soup. White potatoes are a phase 3 food.

  7. Helen/Hawk

    What about roasted beets? (you mention raw & steamed)

    • Team ALG

      Yes you can have roasted beets.

  8. Kim Vonasek

    Are beets from a jar ok? If I were to rinse them first? Thank you

    • Team ALG

      Kim, yes they are ok. They retain their flavor and nutritional value very well. It wouldn’t hurt to rinse them in filtered water.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This