Can Nutrients in Beets Help with Type 2 Diabetes?

Beets have all sorts of health benefits—fiber, potassium, folate, metabolites. That last one may not be as familiar as the others, but they’re just as important to the functioning of your body, and researchers at Joslin Diabetes Center are probing the possibilities that a particular nutrient metabolite found in beets and other vegetables and grains could reduce insulin resistance.

Metabolites are small molecules which can help cells to function or are the byproducts of cellular metabolic processes. The metabolite being studied by Allison Goldfine, M.D., and her collaborators, is found in high concentrations in beets, and levels in the blood of people who have insulin resistance, prediabetes, and cardiovascular risk factors are lower than in healthy people.

This association spurred Mary Elizabeth Patti, M.D., to see if replacing this nutritional metabolite found in beets would improve health of mice fed a high-fat diet. “We showed that levels [of the metabolite] dropped when rats were fed a high-fat diet,” said Dr. Patti. But after the treatment, metabolism in mice improved.

These positive outcomes have encouraged Dr. Goldfine to move forward into human trials. Because this metabolite is currently used as a drug for treatment in patients with a rare metabolic disorder, and is available as an over-the-counter dietary supplement, Dr. Goldfine and her team know the metabolite is safe for human consumption in at the doses being studied. If the human trial outcomes are positive, this could be an inexpensive and effective new treatment for insulin resistance.

“So we’ve got epidemiologic data that associates low levels with insulin resistance and cardiovascular disease risk in humans.  “So now we want to know if we give it to people in a controlled clinical trial, can we improve three measures that we think are most important?”

The three outcome measures being studied include whether the oral supplement improves sugar levels and insulin resistance, improves blood vessel function as a marker of cardiovascular risk, and reduces liver fat.

This three-month, 30-person trial is currently recruiting overweight individuals with pre-diabetes or risk factors for diabetes, but not clinical diabetes. “So we’re looking for people who are overweight, have high blood pressure or high cholesterol levels, or a family member with diabetes, or women with a history of diabetes during pregnancy, or people who are ethnic minorities [who have a higher risk for the disease],” said Dr. Goldfine. Interested participants will be screened for type 2 diabetes before entering the trial.

Trial participation involves two overnight stays in the clinical research center of the Brigham and Women’s Hospital—one at the beginning of the study to measure insulin resistance, blood vessel function, and liver fat before starting treatment, and one after the participant has been randomized to either the supplement or the placebo. Study participants should be able to travel to the Longwood Medical Area in Boston.

This study is funded by a grant from the American Diabetes Association.   If you are interested in learning more about this clinical trial, please contact Ana Maria Grizales at 617-309-4736 or email



  1. This post, “Can Nutrients in Beets help type 2 Diabetes,” and the clinical trials with humans on beets metabolites was published on January 8th, 2014, over a year ago. I would love to hear about the results! Did beet metabolites help control diabetes. Was there any impact of beets on diabetes? Would you please be so kind as to email me back the trial results?

    Thank you!

    • Hello, thanks for your question. Ana Maria Grizales says “We really appreciate your interest in finding out about our study. We are trying to evaluate whether the supplementation of a nutrient in beets will improve insulin sensitivity, liver fat, and blood vessel function in persons with prediabetes and those who are overweight. Unfortunately, the trial has not ended yet, and we are still recruiting interested participants, so we are unable to answer your questions at this point in time, but we will be happy to share the results at the end of the study.”

  2. I would like tto know about Beet test I have diabetes type 2, I have high blood pressure , so please let me know if you will. Thank you David F. Matthews.

  3. Hello, I was reading about the beet study and I can’t seem to find at the listing you show, any information on the study. Is the study done and if so whats the scoop? I keep seeing where the manufactures of Diabete meds are dissing the Beet and there is a site that actually discourages the eating of Beets? please respond.
    John Elder

  4. I have type 2 diabetics and am taking metformin, I love beetroot but preference the pickled sort I’ve heard that beetroot is very good if you are diabetic does this include the pickled sort

  5. The pharmaceutical companies will lose billions if beet are the answer. I have eaten beets for 45 years and I can say they are one of the more healthy foods. The next article you read have them send you the research and then verify that information. I think you will see what I am saying..

  6. I SWEAR BY THIS. My doctor just called about my quarterly lab work – in the 3 months of drinking beet juice (about 4-5 days a week) my A1C dropped an entire point to 6.4% (downgraded to a “pre-diabetes” range). About a year ago he switched me from Metformin to Invokana, but this added “bonus” has me on the right track for the first time in years! My aim is to finally hit that “normal” range (below 5.7 percent). TRY IT.

    • I have started drinking “Super Beets” daily for about 3 weeks now. Without any dietary changes my blood sugars have been below 200!! I know this is high, but in my case my sugars were always in the high 200s! I can’t wait to see what happens to my A1C!! Maria-Oldsmar, Fl

  7. Hello

    I did read your blog which was awesome. I have a query My mother is suffering from dust allergy After doing some research on net I found that beetroot + carrot + cucumber juice will naturally help for dust allergy but she is also worried about her sugar level as she is a diabetic patient she is saying that it will increase her sugar level.

    I need to know the below things.
    * is beet root safe for diabetes patient?
    Also consuming beetroot + carrot + cucumber juice on daily will help or not for dust allergy?

    You suggestion for the person who is suffering from dust allergy and sugar problem.
    My mother age is 52.

    Kind Regards,
    Mohammed Ashraf

  8. On at least 2 occasions, beets boosted my blood sugar to nearly 200. I have eaten them only because I believed what I read on the web about the goodness of beets for diabetics. Frankly, I don’t care what the experts are saying, BEETS ARE BAD FOR ME. I wonder if other diabetics have had similar experience.

  9. I have blood pressure for about 24 years this year I start to take beet pills to lower it with some other it’s seem working for me. I, 54 years old my weight is 66 pounds and pre-diabetes with a1c 6. I’m pretty much in to natural medicine

  10. If a Type 1 patient is already being treated for retinopathy at Joslin eye center with anti VEGF injections would it be safe to try beetroot juice for its benefits on cardio vascular and blood pressure health? Is there any way beetroot juice could have any negative effects on eye?
    The retinopathy is in final stages and responding well to anti VEGF.

    Thank you

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