Beets While Breastfeeding: Safety and Benefits

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Written by Amy Kaczor RDN

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Beets are a popular addition to soups, salads, stews, and more. However, you may wonder if you can have beets while you are breastfeeding. So let’s talk about it!

Overall, beets are safe to consume during breastfeeding and have many health benefits, including antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. 

Let’s dive into more detail about eating beets during breastfeeding, including if it affects your milk supply, makes your breast milk pink, or causes your baby to have gas. Read on!

Are Beets Safe When Breastfeeding? 

Beets are safe to consume when breastfeeding, whether fresh, raw, canned, cooked, or pickled — you name it! In fact, beets are very nutritious for breastfeeding women as well.

The popular root vegetable is a fan favorite due to its unique flavor, especially when roasted in the oven. 

The beautiful and rich red coloring of beets comes from compounds they contain called betalains. Betalains are antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds that protect the cells in the body from harmful free radicals (source: Cleveland Clinic). Antioxidants can protect you by lowering your risk of heart disease and cancer. 

A 2016 study even found that consuming beet juice decreased hypertension and improved overall inflammation in the body (source: Journal of Human Hypertension).

The antioxidants in the juice can provide these health benefits due to the antioxidant composition, which includes betalains. However, it is essential to note that beet juice does not contain the dietary fiber that eating whole beets has. 

fresh beetroot on a wooden table

Fiber is vital for a healthy diet as it encourages regular bowel movements, helps lower blood sugar levels, and can even lower cholesterol (source: Mayo Clinic). If you are 50 or younger or 51 or older, you should consume 25 grams and 21 grams of fiber daily, respectively. 

A one-cup serving (approximately 135 grams) of beets contains 3.81 grams of fiber (source: United States Department of Agriculture [USDA]). Therefore, sticking with whole forms of beets, such as fresh, frozen, or canned varieties, will give you the most nutrition from the dietary fiber content.

If you are consuming fresh beets, ensure that you thoroughly wash the vegetables under clean running water and gently scrub them with a vegetable brush. When purchasing canned beets, avoid cans with deep dents that cause a sharp point that may have punctured the can. 

Additionally, many enjoy pickled beets for their acidic and vinegary flavor. However, pickled beets often contain high amounts of sodium. 

The American Heart Association recommends consuming no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day. In fact, 1,500 milligrams or less is even more ideal. Consuming high amounts of sodium can increase the risk of high blood pressure and heart disease. 

traditional greek salad with feta cheese and beet

Do Beets Affect Breast Milk or Supply? 

Many wonder if beets increase (or decrease) their breastmilk supply, but research is lacking in this area, unfortunately. However, beets have almost 120 grams of water per 136-gram serving (source: USDA).

Therefore, staying hydrated and consuming adequate amounts of water is important for increasing breastmilk supply (source: Sanford Health). 

Keep in mind that pickled beets and other beet recipes can be high in sodium, which can lead to dehydration. Cooking your own beet recipes at home allows you to control exactly how much sodium is added to your food. 

Will Beets Turn Breast Milk Pink or Red?

Since beets are very pigmented, consuming them can cause a change in the color of your breast milk. It may appear concerning to see pink or red breast milk after eating beets. However, it is normal and is no cause to worry.

Glass with beetroot juice on garden table

Can Beets Make a Baby Gassy? 

There is a common fear amongst breastfeeding women that high-fiber foods, such as root vegetables, will cause gas or indigestion in their breastfed baby. 

While beets are not inherently going to make your baby gassy for sure, there is definitely a possibility. Any food can potentially cause gas or discomfort in your baby. Unfortunately, there is not a list of foods to avoid or foods to beware of that may cause gas or digestive health issues in your breastfed baby — each baby is unique!

Therefore, just keep track of the occasions when your baby is gassy and consider the foods you eat before breastfeeding, whether beets or another fruit or vegetable (source: Texas Children’s Hospital).

Keep in mind that your baby can also be experiencing gas for other reasons unrelated to your diet during breastfeeding, such as feeding too quickly, consuming too much, swallowing a lot of air, and not burping enough. 

It may take some trial and error, but try to notice if eating beets correlates with gas in your baby or if it may be another food or a different reason entirely!

In conclusion, I hope you found this article helpful in breaking down the safety and benefits of consuming beets while breastfeeding.