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Top Surprising Health Benefits of Beets

Beets, or beetroot, are one of the many root vegetables that have been a part of diets around the world for centuries. The familiar red color of beets is one of the distinctive features of this delicious root vegetable. Known for their delicious and earthy taste, the health benefits of beets are just as crucial as the flavor. 

Beets are loaded with vitamins and minerals. The health benefits of beets are becoming more widely known as people are coming to include beets as part of the regular round of vegetables they consume. 

Beets have also grown in popularity as an ingredient in juices. It is common to mix beets and things like carrots into a juicer for a delicious drink that is loaded with vitamins and minerals. Root vegetables like beets are packed with minerals, and a simple juicer can give you the tremendous health benefits of beets. 

What are beets? What is the nutritional value of beets? And how do we get the massive health benefits of beets into our daily diet? This guide will give you all the information you need to understand the simple beetroot and to get all the health benefits of beets. 

What are Beets?

Beetroot is the taproot of a plant most commonly known in the U.S. and Canada as beets. Europeans generally refer to the root as beetroot. There are several varieties of beets that fall under the classification of B. Vulgaris and B. Vulgaris Conditiva. 

Beets are known for their distinctive red color. The compounds that give beets this color have been used for medicinal purposes and as a natural dye. 

The cultivation of beets goes back to the ancient Middle East where they were cultivated primarily for the greens. By the Roman era, people began cultivating beets specifically for the roots. 

Juice from beets has been used as a medicine, as a natural dye, and has been added to wine to produce the deep red color.   

In the 18th Century, German scientists found a way to refine sugar from beets. This led to the cultivation of what we now know as sugar beets. 

Beets nutrition facts

Beets are extremely nutritious. Beets are also low in calories and contain high levels of important vitamins and minerals. In fact, beets contain nearly all the vitamins and minerals you need. The rise in popularity of beets and beet juice is due to some sound reasons. 

A 3.5-ounce serving of cooked beetroot contains the following nutrients: 

  • Calories: 44
  • Protein: 1.7 grams
  • Fat: 0.2 grams
  • Fiber: 2 grams
  • Vitamin C: 6% of the RDI
  • Folate: 20% of the RDI
  • Vitamin B6: 3% of the RDI
  • Magnesium: 6% of the RDI
  • Potassium: 9% of the RDI
  • Phosphorous: 4% of the RDI
  • Manganese: 16% of the RDI
  • Iron: 4% of the RDI

Beets also contain inorganic nitrates and pigments, both of which are plant compounds that have a number of health benefits.

Health benefits of Beets

Because beets contain such high levels of vitamins and minerals, they naturally offer a host of health benefits. Some of the health benefits of beets include: 

Helps fight high blood pressure 

Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death worldwide. This includes things like heart attacks, heart failure, and stroke. The leading risk factor for these things is high blood pressure or hypertension. 

Multiple studies have shown that eating beets can significantly lower blood pressure. The effect of beets on blood pressure appears to have a greater impact on systolic blood pressure which is the pressure exerted when your heart contracts. The effect is more pronounced from consuming raw beets rather than cooked beets.  

Doctors believe that the reduction in blood pressure from consuming beets is due to the high concentrations of dietary nitrates found in beets. These nitrates are converted in the body into nitric oxide which allows blood vessels to dilate and reduce blood pressure.  

Improve athletic performance

There are several studies that have shown that dietary nitrates can enhance athletic performance. Many athletes now include beets as part of their training diets. 

The dietary nitrates found in beets are thought to improve the function of cell mitochondria which is the part of the cell responsible for producing energy. In several studies, researchers found that consuming raw beets increased the time it takes to reach exhaustion in athletes performing high-intensity exercises by as much as 25 percent. 

Fight inflammation

Chronic inflammation has been linked to a number of diseases and medical conditions. Obesity, heart disease, liver disease, and cancer have all been linked to the problems associated with chronic inflammation. 

Beets contain high levels of a pigment called betalains, These are known to possess anti-inflammatory properties. Medical research shows that beet juice and beetroot extract can significantly reduce inflammation. 

Further studies have shown that consuming beet juice can provide relief from the pain of osteoarthritis, a disease associated with chronic inflammation.  

Can improve digestive health

One of the keys to good digestive health is eating a healthy amount of dietary fiber. In fact, dietary fiber has been linked to a number of health benefits. Fiber bypasses digestion and goes straight to the colon. Once in the colon, fiber either feeds healthy gut bacteria or helps with natural elimination. 

One cup of beets contains almost 3.5 grams of dietary fiber. This makes beets one of the best sources of dietary fiber. Consuming fiber from beets can help prevent digestive diseases like constipation, inflammatory bowel disease, and diverticulitis. 

Eating a healthy amount of dietary fiber such as that contained in beets has been linked to reduced risk of colon cancer, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. 

May support brain health

Mental and cognitive decline occurs naturally as we age. In severe cases, cognitive decline can lead to diseases like Alzheimer's disease. Part of what leads to mental and cognitive decline is reduced blood flow to the brain. 

The nitrates naturally found in beets may improve blood flow to the brain and thereby reduce the risk of mental and cognitive decline. 

Beets have been proven to improve blood flow to the frontal lobe of the brain. This is a part of the brain associated with higher-level thinking and decision-making capabilities. This is also the part of the brain responsible for memory. 

May fight cancer

One of the things that characterize cancer is the uncontrolled growth of cells. This type of cell growth is often caused by chronic inflammation as a result of things like free radicals in the body. Antioxidants fight and neutralize these free radicals and reduce the types of inflammation that can lead to cancer. 

Beets, especially beetroot extract, have been shown to reduce the size of tumors in the body and prevent out-of-control cell growth. It is believed that the pigment betalain is primarily responsible for reducing the growth of tumors. In one study, beetroot extract worked to reduce the tumors that come with prostate and breast cancer. 

What types of Beets to eat?

There are more types of beets than we could list in this article, but some of the best varieties include the following:

Red beets

These are what most of us think of when we think of beets. Red beets have a deep red color and deep green leafy greens attached. Red beets store well for long periods of time without losing their fresh taste. Red beets can be eaten raw, they are great in juices, and are ideal for making soups like Borscht. 

Golden beets

These are slightly less sweet than red beets, but they offer a mellow and less earthy flavor. Golden beets are often more palatable for people who claim to not like beets. Golden beets are great raw in salads and juices. They are also great roasted and will not stain all the other vegetables in the pan. 

Chioggia beets

Chioggia beets are naturally striped. Some are a subtle yellow-and-orange combination while others come with a brilliant red-and-cream candy cane effect. Use them as you would other beets, and know that the stunning striping usually fades or even disappears when the beets are cooked.

Baby beets

The truth about baby beets is that any variety of beets can be baby beets. They are just beets that have been harvested while they are small. Baby beets are more tender than mature beets and are great in salads. The greens from baby beets are also fantastic in salads or lightly steamed. You can even serve baby beets with the greens still attached. 

Can Beets “detox” your body?

Beets have been consumed as a traditional medicine for centuries. Beets, particularly beet juices, are known to activate liver enzymes and increase bile which helps the liver perform natural detox functions. 

The high concentrations of the pigment betalain and other compounds reduce inflammation and protect the body against oxidative stress. The presence of antioxidants in beets helps detox the body of free radicals, the compounds are known to cause chronic inflammation and can lead to cancer. 

You get the best results from juicing raw beets. Combine raw beets with green apples and carrots for a delicious morning detox beverage. You can also combine beet juice with grapefruit juice, lime juice, and sparkling water for a great detox cocktail. 

How to consume Beets

The beauty of beets is that they can be consumed in a variety of ways. Beets can be eaten raw or cooked. Steamed or roasted, beets retain their delicious sweet and earthy flavor. 

Salads

Thinly slice beets for a crunchy and healthy addition to green salads. 

Soups. Borscht is a favorite Eastern European soup made mostly from beets. You can use either red or golden beets. It is a matter of how you want your Borscht to look. 

Roasted

Put beets into roasted root vegetable dishes. They will roast the same as potatoes and carrots and provide a delicious and colorful addition to roasted vegetable plates.  

Juices

Beet juice is delicious on its own, but the sweet and earthy flavor of beets blends perfectly with carrots, apples, and citrus fruits. 

Pickled

Most of us know about pickled beets. Pickling is an age-old method for preserving foods, and pickled beets are delicious. Buy pickled beets from producers who use organic beets or learn to pickle beets at home. 

Beets side effects and health risks

It is rare to have any harmful side effects from beets, but you should be aware that some people have a beet allergy. Like other fruit and vegetable allergies, a beet allergy is usually caused by food pollen allergy syndrome. This is usually a mild reaction to the pollens in fruits and vegetables, which are similar to the pollens that cause hay fever.

Symptoms of a beet allergy may include redness, swelling, or itching in the mouth, tongue, or throat. In most people, symptoms are mild and clear up easily, but some people may have a more severe reaction, which can lead to anaphylaxis.

Another strange and potentially frightening side effect of eating beets is called beeturia. The dark red pigments in beets can turn urine red or pink in about 10 to 14 percent of people. They can also turn your stool a dark red-black color a day or two after eating them. If you don't associate it with eating beets, you may worry that you have blood in your stool, but these conditions aren't harmful or permanent.

Beets FAQs 

What are Beets? 

Beetroot is the taproot of a plant most commonly known in the U.S. and Canada as beets. Europeans generally refer to the root as beetroot. 

Are beets nutritious?

Beets are extremely nutritious. Beets are also low in calories and contain high levels of important vitamins and minerals. Beets contain nearly all the vitamins and minerals you need.

What are the health benefits of beets?

Beets can help lower blood pressure, improve cognitive function, increase athletic performance, and fight cancer.

Can beets detox the body? 

Beets and beet juice are ideal for increasing liver function and helping the body detox. 

Conclusion

Beets have been a staple in diets for centuries. Beets have also played a role in traditional medicine because of their powerful healing properties. For some of us, beets are simply another root vegetable that we may or may not like from childhood. But the reputation of beets has been improving significantly in the past several years. 

We now know that beets provide numerous health benefits. Everything from a healthy digestive system to a healthy brain can be enhanced by consuming beets. And the great advantage of beets is that we can get these tremendous health benefits by simply consuming raw beets either on their own or in something like fresh juice. 

Beets are also a natural detox vegetable. The compounds that naturally occur in beets can provide a real boost to the liver and increase its ability to detox our bodies. While we are considering ways to detox, consuming beets is one thing we need to keep in mind.   

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