Whether you already love beets and eat them on a regular basis or you’re still hesitant about them, there are plenty of impressive reasons why beets should make it onto your regular shopping list.
Beets are packed with essential vitamins and minerals and are extremely versatile. You can eat them raw in a salad or smoothie or cook them and add them to a variety of dishes from breakfast to dinner.
Originally, people ate only the greens of the beets and the sweet beet root wasn’t cultivated until the times of ancient Rome, but by the 19th century beet roots gained immense popularity and appreciation. Today, beets are often times used as the raw material to produce sugar.
These ruby red, sweet, earthy root vegetables are a goldmine of amazing and surprising health benefits and can even help to improve your exercise performance. Let’s have a closer look at the things that are happening in your body when you eat beets.
#1 Beets Lower Blood Pressure
Beets are high in nitrates, which convert to nitric oxide in the body. Nitric oxide dilates and relaxes blood vessels and with that improves blood circulation so that nutrients and oxygen can transported more quickly and it may even have the ability to lower blood pressure. A recent study showed that drinking one glass of beet juice can lower the systolic blood pressure by four to five points in just one hour.
#2 Beets Improve Stamina
As a fitness enthusiast, you will be happy to hear that beets can give you an extra boost to be able to power through your workout longer. Research on cyclists showed that those who drank beet juice before their training session were able to pedal hard for 15% longer than their non-beet-juice-drinking counterparts. The nitrates we mentioned above, boost endurance exercise performance and nitrate levels peak approximately two to three hours after drinking beet juice or eating beets.
#3 Beets Fight Cancer
Beets are naturally rich in cancer-fighting antioxidants, phytonutrients (betalains), vitamins and minerals. Research found that betalains help to protect our body from certain cancers such as stomach, colon, lung and breast cancer. The deep crimson color of beets is the indicator for the powerful phytonutrients similarly to other deeply colored foods like berries. While evidence is currently fairly limited, beetroot extract has been shown to reduce the growth and division of tumor cells.
#4 Beets Support Heart Health
Beets are an excellent source of betaine as well as the B-vitamin folate and together, these nutrients have the power to lower blood levels of homocysteine. Homocysteine is an inflammatory reaction in the body and in high levels may increase the risk of developing artery damage like blood clots and with that increases the risk of developing heart disease. Additionally, the nitrate in beets can positively impact cholesterol levels, which also supports heart health.
#5 Beets Fight Inflammation
Chronic inflammation can cause a number of diseases like heart disease, cancer, liver disease and obesity. Beets are a unique source of betaine, which is a nutrient that helps to protect cells, enzymes and proteins from environmental stress, which causes inflammation. While some inflammation is important for our bodies because it protects us from virus invaders or foreign bacteria, constantly elevated levels of inflammation are making us sick. Beets ability to help lower inflammation helps almost every single system in our body and counteracts the average person’s diet that is high in inflammatory foods like highly processed, sugary foods.
#6 Beets Boost Sex Drive
Many cultures use beets as a natural aphrodisiac and it is believed that beets can help maintain and boost a healthy sex drive by enriching and increasing the blood flow to our reproductive organs. While we can’t be 100% sure that beets have a positive effect on our libido, there isn’t any proof that oysters are an aphrodisiac either. But just like when we eat chocolate, increasing the blood flow to the areas that make our heart flutter can’t hurt.
#7 Beets Detox Blood
Beets are known as a natural blood cleanser by detoxing and cleansing the blood of waste, toxins and heavy metals. Beets contain the compound glutathione, which is necessary for the detoxification of the liver and other digestive organs. The betalains contained in beets help to produce glutathione, which has the power to neutralize toxins by making them water-soluble. This means that they can be flushed out of our body through the urine.
#8 Beets Improve Eye Health
Beet greens are an excellent source of lutein, which is an antioxidant that boosts eye health by protecting our eyes from age-related eye diseases like cataracts and macular degeneration. They are also packed with a wide variety of other phyochemicals that can help to improve our eye health and the health of nerve tissues.
#9 Beets Combat Constipation
If you have issues with constipation or irregularity, eating foods rich in fiber, like beets, can help you to become more regular. Just one cup of beets gives you approximately 4 grams of dietary fiber, especially insoluble fiber, which has been known to help reduce the risk of hemorrhoids, constipation and diverticulitis. Additionally, the betaine contained in beets also helps to improve your digestion.
#10 Beets Boost Brain Function
Cognitive and mental decline can happen naturally as we age and may lead to conditions like Alzheimer’s or dementia. We mentioned the nitric oxide with its ability to dilate and relax our blood vessels earlier. This in turn helps to increase the blood flow to our brain and with that brings better brain function. Research shows that beets especially improve the blood flow to the frontal lobe, the area of the brain that is responsible for high-level thinking like decision making and memory.
#11 Beets Speed Up Muscle Recovery
Beets may help your workout by speeding up muscle recovery after an intense training session. Strenuous workouts trigger oxidative stress, which happens when there is an imbalance of free radicals and antioxidants that fight them, which leads to inflammation and ultimately muscle soreness. A British study showed that participants who drank beet juice with its anti-inflammatory properties reduced exercise-induced inflammation and with that sped up muscle recovery.
#12 Beets Aid in Weight Loss
Beets can help you lose weight in a number of ways. The nutrient-packed beets are low in calories (a 3.5-ounce serving comes with only 44 calories) and high in water and increasing your consumption of low-calorie foods such as fruits and veggies has been associated with weight loss. But besides being low in calories, beets contain moderate amounts of protein (1.7 grams per 3.5-ounce serving) and fiber (2 grams per 3.5-ounce serving), which help to aid weight loss by promoting your feeling of fullness and reducing your appetite.
The healthiest way to prepare beets and keep the nutrients intact is to either eat them raw, roast them for less than an hour or steam them for approximately 20 minutes or less. Don’t panic when you notice that your stool or urine turns pink or red. It’s not blood, it’s a normal, harmless side effect for about 15% of the population who consume beets.
ADD MORE BEETS INTO YOUR BALANCED AND HEALTHY DIET
Joschi & Monika