Beet kvass is a highly nutritive, fermented drink that you make by culturing beets in brine. Its earthy, slightly salty and subtly sour flavor can take some getting used to. And it’s worth your time to give it a try because beet kvass benefits cardiovascular, cognitive and cellular health. It also helps support the digestive system, too. And it does this by combining the nutritive power of beets with the probiotic effects of fermentation.
Vitamins, Minerals and Phytonutrients
Beets are highly nutritive foods that are rich in vitamins, many minerals as well as phytonutrients. In addition to being highly nutritious foods, they’re also functional foods. Researchers have found that they help reduce oxidative stress and inflammation. As a result, foods made with beets like beet kvass may help to improve cardiovascular, metabolic and brain health[mfn]Clifford, T., et al. (2015). The potential benefits of red beetroot supplementation in health and disease. Nutrients.[/mfn].
Beet kvass has a similar nutritional profile to beet juice with the exception that it contains less sugar, as some of it is metabolized by beneficial bacteria. It also typically contains B vitamins, vitamin C, trace minerals as well as antioxidants and phytonutrients.
Nutrition you’ll find in a 6-oz serving of beet kvass:
- Roughly 2 grams of dietary fiber, 1 gram of protein and 6 grams of carbohydrates
- B vitamins (including folate) and vitamin C
- Minerals like iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium and manganese
- Probiotics and food enzymes
- Antioxidants and phytonutrients like betalain
Beet Kvass Benefits for Gut Health
As a fermented food, beet kvass benefits gut health and the digestive system. Culturing the beets in brine allows beneficial bacteria to proliferate just as they do in other fermented foods and drinks like water kefir, milk kefir, and sauerkraut.
Accordingly, these foods become rich sources of probiotics that help support digestive system health[mfn]Klewicka, E., et al. (2015). Effects of Lactofermented Beetroot Juice Alone or with N-nitroso-N-methylurea on Selected Metabolic Parameters, Composition of the Microbiota Adhering to the Gut Epithelium and Antioxidant Status of Rats. Nutrients.[/mfn] and proper immune system function[mfn]Galdeano, C. M., & Perdigón, G. (2006). The probiotic bacterium Lactobacillus casei induces activation of the gut mucosal immune system through innate immunity. Clinical and vaccine immunology[/mfn]. As a result, people who consume probiotic-rich foods and drinks like kvass tend to have healthier guts, and may be less likely to become sick from cold[mfn]Langkamp-Henken, B., et al. (2015). Bifidobacterium bifidum R0071 results in a greater proportion of healthy days and a lower percentage of academically stressed students reporting a day of cold/flu: A randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. British Journal of Nutrition[/mfn] and flu[mfn]Waki, N., Matsumoto, M., Fukui, Y., & Suganuma, H. (2014). Effects of probiotic Lactobacillus brevis KB290 on incidence of influenza infection among schoolchildren: an open-label pilot study. Letters in applied microbiology [/mfn].
Beet Kvass Benefits for the Liver
Traditionally, beet kvass was used as a tonic for the blood and liver[mfn]Fallon, S. & Enig. M., (1996) Nourishing Traditions. New Trends Publishing.[/mfn]. There’s merit to that tradition, too. That’s because beets contain phytonutrients called betalains as well as betaine, and these nutrients help support liver health. Furthermore, betaine helps reduce oxidative stress and inflammation in the liver[mfn]Veskovic, M., et al. (2019) Betaine modulates oxidative stress, inflammation, apoptosis, autophagy, and Akt/mTOR signaling in methionine-choline deficiency-induced fatty liver disease. European Journal of Pharmacology.[/mfn], while beets also reduce stress on the liver and support liver health[mfn]Vulič, J., et al. (2014) In vivo and in vitro antioxidant effects of beetroot pomace extracts. Journal of Functional Foods.[/mfn].
Beet Kvass for Your Brain and Heart
In addition to supporting liver health, beet kvass benefits the heart, too. That’s because beets contain naturally occurring nitrates that your body converts to nitric oxide[mfn]Lundberg, J., et al. (2008) The nitrate–nitrite–nitric oxide pathway in physiology and therapeutics. Nature Reviews: Drug Discovery.[/mfn].
When that happens, your blood vessels dilate which improves circulation and oxygenation throughout your body. As a result, drinking beet juice may enhance cognitive function and neuroplasticity (that’s your brain’s ability to make new connections) as you age, while also reducing blood pressure[mfn]Petrie, M., et al. (2017). Beet Root Juice: An Ergogenic Aid for Exercise and the Aging Brain. The journals of gerontology. Series A, Biological sciences and medical sciences [/mfn].
The same reasons that make beet kvass good for your heart also may help enhance athletic performance, too. One study found that consuming beetroot juice about 90 minutes before exercise could enhance athletic performance[mfn]Domínguez, R., et al. (2017). Effects of Beetroot Juice Supplementation on Cardiorespiratory Endurance in Athletes. A Systematic Review. Nutrients[/mfn]. Further, it may also help reduce muscle pain from exercise, too[mfn]Husmann, F., et al. (2019). Dietary Nitrate Supplementation Improves Exercise Tolerance by Reducing Muscle Fatigue and Perceptual Responses. Frontiers in physiology.[/mfn].
How to Get Started
Fermented beet juice, is rich in probiotics and micronutrients that help support systemic wellness, and can be especially good for your liver, heart and brain. Even better, if you’re an athlete you might find beet kvass benefits how well you perform.
If you’re ready to get started, pick up some beets and starting making your own with this beet kvass recipe. You’ll need beets, water, and fine sea salt. A little bit of ginger bug to give the kvass a boost helps, too.
If you’re new to fermented drinks, try starting with 4 ounces diluted with water or mineral water before a meal, and then increase it to 1 to 2 cups as your tolerance increases.