Beets (Beta vulgaris) are a biennial vegetable, edible from root to leaf. The fleshy, purplish-red tap root with a sweet, earthy taste is not frequently seen served up in American cuisine but both beetroot and beet greens are absolutely deserving of a spot in the annals of medicinal superfoods.
8 Health Benefits Of Eating Beets
Here are some incredible reasons to eat your beets:
1. Beets Provide a Broad Spectrum of Nutrients
The humble beet is a good source of practically all the vitamins and minerals you need:
|Per Cup of Beets, Raw||% of DV|
|Vitamin A||44.9 IU||1%|
|Vitamin C||6.7 mg||11%|
|Vitamin B6||0.1 mg||5%|
|Pantothenic Acid||0.2 mg||2%|
Beetroot is often packaged and sold with their leafy greens still attached. Don’t toss these delectable bits – they are even higher in vitamins than their roots. Young beet leaves can be served raw or lightly steamed while more mature greens are usually stir fried or boiled, much like spinach.
2. Beets are an Unique Source of Betalains
Betalains are a class of phytonutrient pigments, responsible for giving certain fruits, flowers, and foliage their vibrant red to violet and yellow to orange hues. They are exclusive to plants within the Caryophyllales family, and red and yellow beets are among the few foods that contain it. Other sources of betalains include beet greens, prickly pear, Swiss chard, and cactus fruits.
Though chemically and structurally different, betalains are similar to anthocyanins in that they are both colorants that possess strong antioxidant properties.
In addition to betalains, beets also contain other important antioxidants such as rutin, caffeic acid, epicatechin, flavonoids, and carotenoids that work in synergy to help reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease, dementia, and other age-related diseases.
3. Beets Reduce Blood Pressure
Keeping your blood pressure in check is one of the ways you can reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke, and other heart diseases.
Nitrates, which are found naturally in many vegetables, have a blood pressure lowering effect when regularly consumed. Nitrates convert into nitric oxide after ingestion, a signalling molecule that tells the muscles in the arteries to relax.
Beets are among the richest sources of dietary nitrates, and as such, has been studied for its impact on heart health.
The cardioprotective properties of beets work best when eaten raw rather than cooked. And because the blood pressure lowering effect of beets only last so long, so you’ll need to eat plenty of beets to achieve long lasting results.
4. Beets Enhance Athletic Performance
Dietary nitrates also interact with the vast network of mitochondrial cells found throughout the body.
Mitochondria are responsible for producing and converting energy to living cells, and consuming nitrates has been found to make mitochondrial function more efficient by reducing the oxygen cost of rigorous physical activity. This means that the less oxygen used during exercise, the greater the endurance.
5. Beets Help Fight Chronic Inflammation
Betalains have shown a lot of promise as a novel anti-inflammatory that could be used to treat many types of disease.
Several animal studies have shown that betalains derived from beetroot have a therapeutic effect on various forms of inflammation. In one, it slowed the production of pro-inflammatory enzymes such as tumor necrosis factor, interleukin, and superoxide anion. In another, it helped to improve physical injuries, while also suppressing the expression of nitric oxide, cyclooxygenase, nuclear factor kappa B, and other inflammatory processes. And lastly, beet root extract helped to alleviate damage caused by oxidative stress, inflammation, and cell death.
6. Beets are Brain Food
Cognitive function deteriorates as we age. One of the key factors that precedes this decline is reduced blood flow in the brain.
However, older adults who consumed a high nitrate diet – which included a daily 16 ounce serving of beetroot juice – had increased cerebral blood flow in a 2011 study. Specifically, nitrates helped improve blood flow in the frontal lobe, the area of the brain responsible for memory, language, problem solving, and emotional expression.
7. Beets Support Digestive Health
Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that isn’t broken down by digestive enzymes, passing through the body undigested. In addition to adding bulk to stool, fiber alters the contents of the digestive system by changing how nutrients are absorbed.
Eating a diet rich in fiber also helps reduce the risk of developing several kinds of diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
Beets are a good source of dietary fiber, with each cup containing 3.8 grams.
8. Beets Can Help You Lose Weight
Because beets are high in fiber and low in calories, they can be useful for assisting with weight loss.
Eating a high fiber diet has been shown to help make you feel fuller for longer and reduce hunger pangs throughout the day. Without any changes to their regular diets, consuming an additional 14 grams of fiber per day resulted in healthy individuals eating 10% less food each day with 4.2 pounds of weight loss over 3.8 months. The effect of dietary fiber in heavier participants was even more dramatic: daily caloric intake was reduced by 18% with 5.3 pounds of weight loss over the same period.
8 Yummy Beet Recipes
Beets are very versatile and can be eaten boiled, roasted, steamed, pickled, or raw:
Incorporating both the roots and the greens, this fresh salad is tossed in an orange mustard dressing and topped with walnuts and feta cheese.
Add them to a fresh salad or eat them straight out of the jar, pickled beets only get better with age and will last for up to a year.
The Ukrainian specialty, borscht soup is a medley of beets, carrots, onions, and cabbage with a squirt of lemon juice and garnished with sour cream.
For those who love a chilled soup on a hot day, chlodnik is a cold Polish beet soup made with cucumbers, radishes, dill, onions, yogurt, kefir, and sour cream, garnished with chopped boiled eggs.
Roasted Beet Hummus
This hot pink hummus melds together beets, chickpeas, garlic, tahini, lemon, and olive oil for a kid-friendly appetizer, served with pita and veggies.
A sweet, refreshing, and healthful bevvie, process beetroot, apples, celery, carrots, and ginger in the juicer. Finished with freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice.
Toss beets, blueberries, coconut water, and Greek yogurt in the blender for a quick boost of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Beetroot Bread With Nuts
Never knew you needed pink bread? This vibrant loaf is so hued due to the blending in of beetroot puree with the flour and nuts.
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