Beets are one of those root vegetables that are either loved or ignored by many. Maybe because of their characteristic taste. But sometimes, you have to overlook the flavor and even color to get through the benefits. This brings us to our question, are beets good for you? Absolutely!
Beets are rich in vitamins, minerals, and other health-enhancing compounds such as antioxidants, nitrates, and carotenoids. Research shows that beetroot may help fight inflammation and lower blood pressure, among other benefits. It has also been proven that beetroot can increase energy levels and improve athletic performance.
Beets come in different color variations, such as white, candy cane, golden, and red beets. However, red beets are the most common and readily available.
This article is all about beet benefits and why they are actually good for you.
Are Beets Good For You?
1. May lower blood pressure
A 2014 study published in the American Heart Association Journal found that daily consumption of 250 ml of beetroot juice for 4 weeks significantly reduced blood pressure in hypertensive patients. It also improved their endothelial function and reduced their arterial stiffness.
As per the study, these changes were a result of high nitrates present in the beets. Nitrate increases the production of nitric oxide in the body. Nitric oxide is a vasodilator that dilates your blood vessels, relieves tension, and causes the blood to flow more freely, thus a drop in blood pressure.
Another study revealed similar results where beetroot juice consumption resulted in a remarkable reduction in systolic blood pressure.
So regular consumption of beetroot juice may help lower your blood pressure and reduce your risk of high blood pressure complications such as heart disease and stroke.
2. May prevent signs of premature aging
Beets and beet greens are rich in carotenoids and vitamin A, both of which serve as antioxidants, protecting you from free radicals that may cause skin damage leading to premature signs of aging. They also help even your complexion and prevent acne.
Though carotenoid levels in the body can be increased with a healthy lifestyle, factors such as smoking, alcohol, UV rays, and illnesses may contribute to their depletion, thus leading to early signs of aging.
So in as much as you are eating beetroots, ensure your general lifestyle is also good to support the body to use this nutrient in your favor.
3. High in antioxidants
Antioxidants are plant compounds that fight free radicals that may cause oxidative stress and damage the cells.
A high intake of antioxidant foods may help prevent different chronic conditions such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.
Red beets have been ranked as one of those vegetables high in antioxidants and other disease-fighting phytonutrients, vitamins, and minerals.
For instance, they are high in betalains, a compound that renders beets their color.
Betalains are water-soluble antioxidants that have exhibited chemo-protective effects on certain cancers such as breast and prostate cancers.
In another study, betanin was found to reduce cancer cell proliferation significantly.
Beet greens are also high in lutein and zeaxanthin, the two essential carotenoids that reduce the risk of macular degeneration and cataracts.
4. May fight against inflammation
A powerful antioxidant compound in beets called betalain may help prevent chronic inflammation, which is a risk factor for conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
Besides, if you suffer from arthritis, gout, or other inflammatory disorders, research shows that eating beets can help relieve your symptoms. The antioxidants in beets break down excess uric acid and stop it from accumulating. This causes less inflammation in joints and elsewhere throughout your body.
To reap these anti-inflammatory benefits, researchers suggest eating one to two beetroots per day. This sounds like a lot—and it is! So think of creative ways to incorporate beets into your diet. They can be steamed and eaten with other veggies as part of a healthy salad or paired with tofu for breakfast or snacks.
5. May boost energy levels
Beets are rich in nitrates, natural compounds that help to reduce blood pressure, enhance mental clarity and give you a boost of energy.
Also, the nitrates in beets make cells more fuel-efficient by enhancing the mitochondria function of generating energy. This helps decrease the oxygen cost of exercise and promotes exercise endurance, making beets one of the best foods for athletes.
In one study, drinking 2 cups of beet juice daily increased plasma nitrate levels, which increased physical performance in trained cyclists.
A single cup of beetroot juice can replace your mid-day energy drink or afternoon coffee break; it has a mild kick without making you feel shaky like a caffeine high.
This natural pick-me-up can also stimulate your mind and help you think more clearly. Try replacing that afternoon latte with a cup of beetroot juice for an all-natural way to get through those afternoons!
If you’re feeling sluggish, try juicing one cup of beetroot mixed with half a lemon and some mint leaves. This juice will leave your breath fresh while helping keep your body hydrated throughout the day. You can even add ginger root to make things spicy!
In addition, betaine high in beets stimulates bile production in the liver, which is essential for breaking down fat cells so they can be used as energy throughout your body.
6. May promote brain health and slow dementia
Drinking beet juice increases blood flow to the brain due to the high nitrate levels.
Increased brain oxygenation increases brain neuroplasticity, which prevents cognitive decline and increases cognitive alertness.
In one study, consuming a high nitrate diet, including beet juice, increased blood flow to the frontal lobe. The frontal lobe is associated with cognitive functions such as memory, social interaction, emotions, problem-solving, and motor function.
7. May aid digestion
The high fiber content in beets makes them effective at keeping your digestion healthy and bowels regular. A healthy gut may help protect against hemorrhoids, diverticulitis, and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Fiber absorbs excess water and helps to push food through your intestines, which reduces constipation. This root vegetable is one of nature’s best sources of dietary fiber, boasting more than 3 grams per cup.
In addition to creating softer stools, a wealth of studies have shown that increasing your daily fiber intake lowers blood pressure and reduces your risk for heart disease and diabetes. For example, women who consumed an average of 30 grams of fiber each day were found to have an 11 percent lower risk for type 2 diabetes compared with those who ate just 15 grams per day. Likewise, researchers in one study determined that every 10-gram increase in soluble fiber consumption was associated with a 17 percent reduction in cardiovascular mortality.
Besides fiber, beets also contain several other beneficial compounds that aid digestion. One such compound is betaine, which is useful for treating indigestion and heartburn by helping you break down fatty foods more easily.
8. Boosts the immune system
Rich in phytonutrients and antioxidants, beets help boost your immune system. These nutrients work by flushing out toxins from your body, which protects you from infections and diseases. An effective way to ward off viruses and prevent them from attacking you is to consume a minimum of three servings of fruits and vegetables every day. By including beets in your diet, you can improve immunity. This vegetable also contains high amounts of vitamin C, which helps your body produce white blood cells to fight bacteria and viruses.
9. Improves circulation
The nitrates in beets increase nitric oxide production, which helps relax and dilate your blood vessels, allowing blood to flow more freely and at normal pressure. So, regular consumption of beets can help increase blood flow to various parts of your body, including your brain. With better circulation, you’ll feel more alert and less fatigued, with an easier time thinking clearly and making decisions. If you want to get more out of your day, eat some beets.
10. May prevent anemia
The common cause of anemia is dietary iron deficiency. Red beets are generally high in iron, and regular consumption may help combat anemia.
Beets are also high in folate, which may help fight anemia even further.
11. Aid weight loss
Due to their high fiber and low-calorie ratio, beets can make a great addition to a weight loss diet.
Fiber slows the movement of food through the digestive tract. This promotes satiety, keeps you full longer, and prevents unnecessary eating that may increase calorie intake and cause weight gain.
How to Use Beets
1) Roasted beet salad with walnut
Place whole beets in a large, shallow baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil and salt. Cover tightly with foil. Bake at 400° for about 1 hour or until tender. Cool; rub off the skin; cut into wedges. Toss with arugula (or baby spinach), chopped walnuts, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper; serve on individual plates. Yield: 2 servings (1 cup each).
2) Quick Pickled Beets
Pickled beets are a super-easy way to incorporate beets into your meal or snack. Trim the beets, peel and cut them into bite-sized pieces, and set them aside in a bowl. Make the brine, and stir 2 tablespoons of sea salt in 2 cups of water. in a quart glass jar, add garlic, dill, parsley, or herbs and spices of your choice. Stir.
Add beet cubes to fit in the jar. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.
3) Candied Beet Chips
Cut peeled beets into thin strips using a mandolin, place on a parchment-lined baking sheet, and lightly drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle sea salt over them, as well as any spices of your choice: cayenne pepper, cinnamon, or even curry powder would all taste great. Then roast at 350 degrees for 15 minutes, turning them once halfway through. Allow to cool before enjoying; they will crisp up slightly as they cool. They taste great dipped in hummus!
4) Make soups
Soups are a fantastic way to get beets into your diet. A bowl of hot, steamy soup might be just what you need on a chilly day. Try steaming them with herbs and then blending them into creamy soups. You can also cook your beets in lemon juice or vinegar, which not only adds flavor but also helps preserve their nutrients.
5) Make smoothies
I’m a big fan of smoothies for one simple reason: They make eating healthy convenient. Smoothies are fast, portable, and easy to mix up with whatever ingredients you have on hand. Include fruits like bananas and apples for an energy-boosting drink. You can also throw in some nuts for a protein boost.
6) Add in stews
Stews are some of my favorite recipes, and beets are a great addition because they provide sweetness and an earthy flavor that’s not too overpowering.
7. Prepare pasta sauce
Roasting beets is a simple and easy way to bring out their flavor, but if you want something a little more indulgent, try making a creamy sauce for your pasta.
Cook 5 medium-sized beets in 1/2 cup of water until tender. Drain and let cool slightly before peeling. When they’re cool enough to handle, coarsely chop them and toss with 1 teaspoon each of sea salt and pepper.
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add 2 cloves of minced garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add chopped beets, 3 tablespoons, of coconut cream. 1 tablespoon lemon juice, and 1/4 teaspoon each of thyme and rosemary; stir to combine. Simmer for 10 minutes, then blend into a sauce. Serve over cooked pasta, and enjoy!
Are there any Precautions for Using Beets?
If your pressure is usually low, don’t overdo your intake, as it can reduce it even further.
If you are at risk of kidney stones or have had them before, you may want to take it slow on beets as they are high in oxalate and may increase your risk of developing stones.
If you’re wondering whether beets are good for you, they are incredible!
Beets are nutritious vegetables high in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other nutrients that promote health and well-being.
They can be consumed raw, juiced, or cooked.
Beets are generally safe to consume for most people; however, you may want to be cautious if you have a previous history of kidney stones or are at risk of developing one.
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