12 Health Benefits Of Beets
Beetroots, often referred to as beets, belong to the cultivated varieties of Beta vulgaris and are known for their unique earthy flavor and aroma. With their impressive nutritional profile, many people consider them a superfood, owing to the numerous health benefits they offer.
In addition to bringing vibrant color to your plate, both the edible taproots and leaves of beets are loaded with vital vitamins and minerals, and beneficial plant compounds, some of which possess medicinal properties. They make a simple yet delightful addition to a myriad of culinary creations.
Beets: Nutritional Facts
Beets, despite being low in calories, are rich in essential vitamins and minerals, offering a comprehensive array of nutrients required by the body. Let's delve into the nutritional profile of a mere 100-gram serving of boiled beetroot.
- Calories: 44
- Protein: 1.68 grams
- Carbs: 9.96 grams
- Fiber: 2 grams
- Fat: 0.2 grams
- Folate: 20% of the Daily Value (DV)
- Manganese: 14% of the DV
- Copper: 8% of the DV
- Potassium: 7% of the DV
- Magnesium: 6% of the DV
- Iron: 4% of the DV
- Vitamin B6: 4% of the DV
- Vitamin C: 4% of the DV
Beets are rich in folate, a B vitamin that plays a key role in red blood cell formation and supports healthy cell growth and function. They also provide a good amount of manganese, crucial for bone development, brain function, and nutrient metabolism, among other functions.
Health Benefits of Beets
Beets offer various health benefits, including reduced blood pressure, improved cognition, and better athletic performance. To maximize their nutrient content, opt for raw beets or consider methods like juicing and roasting instead of boiling.
Moreover, beets serve as one of the few vegetables that contain betalains, a potent antioxidant responsible for their vibrant colors. Betalains have anti-inflammatory properties and may protect against conditions like cancer and other diseases. Keep reading to discover the top 12 health benefits of beets.
1. Can Help Lower High Blood Pressure
Several studies indicate that beetroot juice can effectively reduce both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. The impact seems more significant on systolic pressure, which occurs when the heart contracts, rather than diastolic blood pressure, which is during the heart's relaxation phase.
These blood pressure-lowering effects are probably due to the high levels of nitrates found in this root vegetable, which are converted into nitric oxide within the body. Nitric oxide is a naturally occurring gas that dilates blood vessels, promoting increased blood flow and subsequently reducing blood pressure.
2. Can Improve Athletic Performance
Nitrates found in beets appear to positively affect physical activities by enhancing the efficiency of mitochondria, membrane-bound cell organelles that generate energy in your cells. Additionally, nitric oxide improves muscle oxygenation and blood flow, allowing for extended performance during physical exercise.
A review suggests that beetroot juice may extend endurance, enhance cardiorespiratory performance, and improve athletic efficiency. It's crucial to remember that blood nitrate levels peak around 2-3 hours after beet consumption. To optimize their potential advantages, it's advisable to ingest beets or their juice a few hours before training or competition.
3. May Have Anti-Inflammatory Properties
Beets contain vital pigments called betalains, which offer various anti-inflammatory properties. This could benefit several aspects of health, as chronic inflammation is considered a silent killer associated with conditions like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, liver disease, obesity, and cancer.
A 2-week study involving 24 people with high blood pressure found that consuming 8.5 ounces (250 ml) of beet juice each day led to reductions in several markers of inflammation, such as the tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-a) and C-reactive protein (CRP). Nonetheless, more studies in humans are required.
4. May Prevent Heart Disease and Stroke
Drinking a daily glass of beetroot juice may help reduce inflammation in blood vessels, which tends to be higher in people with coronary heart disease, as it can boost inorganic nitrate intake and fight against harmful inflammation due to low nitric oxide levels in those with the condition.
Many researchers believe that elevated levels of nitric oxide can accelerate the recovery from inflammation by shifting crucial immune cells from a pro-inflammatory state to a more anti-inflammatory one. Additionally, beets are high in folate, a nutrient that helps control blood vessel damage, lowering the risk of heart disease and stroke.
5. Can Help Fight Against Cancer Cells
Beetroot boasts several essential compounds with cancer-fighting properties, including caffeic acid, ferulic acid, betaine, rutin, and kaempferol. Although more research is required, test-tube studies have found that beetroot extract possesses the ability to delay the division and growth of various cancer cells.
Several other studies have linked higher blood levels of betaine with a reduced risk of developing cancer. However, most studies on the matter have used isolated compounds instead of beetroot. Therefore, more research on beetroot as part of a healthy diet and cancer risk is necessary.
Also, beets contain betalains and anthocyanins, which safeguard cells from oxidative damage, which may contribute to cancer prevention.
6. May Improve Digestive Health
Beets serve as a rich source of fiber, providing 3.4 grams of fiber in each one-cup serving. Bypassing digestion, fiber travels to the colon, where it feeds beneficial gut bacteria and aids in the formation of bulky stools. This can promote digestive health and keep you regular.
It also helps prevent digestive conditions like diverticulitis, inflammatory bowel disease (IBS), and constipation. Fiber intake has also been associated with a lowered risk of chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and colon cancer.
7. Aids In Weight Management
The nutritional content of this vibrant vegetable makes it an ideal choice for people trying to lose weight. They are low in calories and fat but high in fiber and protein, which can assist in reaching and maintaining a healthy weight. Beets are also high in water, which helps balance your energy consumption.
Fiber present in beets can aid in digestive well-being, promote feelings of fullness, and reduce appetite, potentially leading to lower calorie intake. Incorporating beets into smoothies or various recipes allows for an easy way to enhance your consumption of fruits and vegetables, improving the overall quality of your diet.
8. Help Maintain a Healthy Liver
Consistently consuming beet juice or incorporating beets into your diet has been shown to increase the levels of specific detoxifying enzymes in the liver. These enzymes play a vital role in safeguarding the liver and enhancing its overall efficiency.
According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), about 24% of adults in the US have nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), a condition caused by excess fat in the liver. Beets contain betaine, an active compound that might contribute to the vegetable's antioxidant properties and its potential to positively impact liver markers in people with NAFLD.
9. Can Enhance Cognition
A diet rich in nitrates could potentially protect against neurodegenerative conditions, including dementia. A limited study, published in Nutrients, indicated that the consumption of nitrate-rich beetroot juice was associated with improved cognitive function in both younger and older adults, though further research is necessary.
Beets are believed to boost cognitive function by raising the levels of nitric oxide, which is the bioactive form of nitrate, in the bloodstream. This, in turn, enhances oxygen flow to the brain. As you age, maintaining sharp cognitive function becomes increasingly important.
10. Help Strengthen Your Bones
Beets provide several bone-healthy nutrients, such as folate, copper, magnesium, manganese, and Vitamin C, all of which help build and strengthen your bones. Folate is essential for tissue growth, while Vitamin C is crucial for collagen production, a protein that supports healthy bones and cartilage.
Manganese, an often ignored trace mineral, is necessary for synthesizing connective tissue in bones and cartilage. Magnesium works synergistically with calcium and aids in the production of hydrochloric acid, ensuring proper nutrient digestion. Lastly, copper is active in an enzyme responsible for producing tissue proteins, including collagen and elastin.
11. May Support Brain Health
The nitrate in beets can improve brain function by widening blood vessels, thereby increasing blood flow to the brain. Beets have also been connected to better blood flow to the frontal lobe of the brain, which handles advanced thinking tasks like decision-making and memory.
In an earlier study involving people with type 2 diabetes, those who drank 8.5 ounces (250 mL) of beetroot juice daily for two weeks had a 4% faster reaction time on a cognitive test compared to a control group. However, more research is required to confirm these findings.
12. Can Promote a Healthy Pregnancy
Consuming beets during pregnancy offers various benefits to the developing fetus, thanks to the minerals and other components in beets. These advantages include:
- Boosts immunity: While pregnant, the antioxidants in beets can greatly boost your immune system and help protect you from illnesses
- Metabolism regulation: As beets are high in potassium, consuming them can promote a healthy electrolyte balance and maintain your metabolism.
- Aiding in fetal development: Beetroot, rich in folic acid, supports the healthy growth and development of your baby. It contributes to the development of your baby's spinal cord and brain.
- Rich source of vitamin C: Vitamin C assists in iron absorption and contributes to a healthy pregnancy and delivery.
- Prevention of birth defects: Folic acid, present in beetroot, promotes the growth of healthy tissues and fetal development. It also plays a crucial role in preventing birth defects like spina bifida by ensuring proper spinal cord development.
Adding Beets to Your Daily Meals
Adding beets to your soups, salads, and other regular meals can serve as an excellent way to enhance a balanced diet. Here are some delicious and fun ways to incorporate more beets into your meals:
- Soup: Enjoy a warm bowl of borscht, a traditional Eastern European soup most commonly made with beets, shredded cabbage, and a tangy touch from ingredients like wine vinegar or lemon juice.
- Leaves: Cook and savor fresh beet leaves much like you would with spinach. You can also enhance the flavor by adding them to a salad with beets for a double dose of beet goodness.
- Salad: Consider adding grated beets to coleslaw or salads for extra flavor and color.
- Juice: Fresh beetroot juice is usually better than store-bought options that may have excessive added sugar and limited beet content. For added flavor, consider mixing in carrot, celery, apple, ginger, and lemon.
- Dip: Create a tasty, wholesome, and vibrant dip by blending beets with Greek yogurt and fresh garlic.
- Roasted: Slice beetroots into wedges and coat them with a bit of olive oil, salt, pepper, and your preferred herbs or spices. Roast them in a 400°F (205°C) oven for 15–20 minutes until they're tender.
Probable Side Effects of Beets
Beets are commonly enjoyed as part of a nutritious diet; however, it's important to be aware that excessive consumption of beets or beet juice can lead to various side effects, including:
- May Increase the Risk of Kidney Stone
- May Cause Anaphylaxis
- Might Cause Beeturia
- May Cause Upset Stomach
- Might Harm the Liver
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