Although often overlooked, beets are a powerful superfood. From their distinct reddish coloring to their impactful earthy flavor, beets contain a unique and beneficial set of nutrients. Here are seven health benefits of beets that you need to know.
What Are Beets?
Beets are root vegetables full of water, carbohydrates, and fiber with a primary vitamin and mineral makeup of manganese, iron, potassium, folate, and vitamin C. Beet leaves, or beet greens are edible as well and full of B vitamins.
Distinguished by their unique colorings, coming in yellow, pink, white, or the most common dark red, there are many different types of beets. The dark red hue comes from the plant compound betalain, a red pigment containing many additional nutritional benefits.
7 Health Benefits of Beets
1. Blood Pressure
The high concentration of nitrates in beets helps lower blood pressure levels and stabilize overall heart health. In the bloodstream, nitrates transform into nitric oxide, sending relax signals to muscle cells near arteries which causes blood vessels to dilate and reduce blood pressure.
The nitrates gained from beets lessen blood pressure levels for a few hours, while regularly eating beets can exhibit long-term benefits.
2. Physical Performance
Nitrates can also improve physical performance. Once in the body, nitrates, transformed into nitric oxide, enhance stamina and boost oxygen by improving mitochondrial efficiency and widening blood vessels. Nitrate levels peak around 2 to 3 hours after ingesting beets.
Betalain, the pigment that gives beets their deep red color, can lessen inflammation, such as kidney inflammation. However, human studies would need to be conducted to confirm these results since most of the existing research is on rats.
Digestive health is crucial to one’s well-being. Beets contain 3.4 g of fiber per cup and assist in regulating stools and preventing IBS flare-ups, diverticulitis, and constipation.
Additionally, ingesting enough fiber is shown to decrease the risk of certain diseases such as colon cancer. Further, the soluble fiber found in beets can help regulate blood sugar and reduce cholesterol levels.
5. Cognitive Function
A person’s cognitive function typically diminishes with the natural aging process. The loss of sufficient blood flow to the brain might be a significant contributing factor to this decline.
Research suggests nitrates could dilate blood vessels, leading to increased blood flow and, therefore, cognitive functioning. Increasing blood flow to the frontal lobe can influence higher-level thinking, working memory, and even decision-making.
Beets may prevent and fight diseases with their high concentration of nitrates, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory properties. Due to their previously discussed benefits, nitrates might lessen the chance of illness by boosting overall health.
Additionally, the natural antioxidant compounds in beets can increase cell protection. Beetroot extract has even shown the potential to slow tumor cells.
7. Weight Loss
While few scientific studies concern the effects of beets on weight loss, beets are 87% water and contain a low-calorie count, making them a diet superfood. Additionally, they have lots of fiber which lessens appetite and helps regulate the digestive system.
Successfully clearing the digestive system helps flush out any extra weight of waste build-up.
How to Incorporate Beets into Your Diet
There are many ways to add beets to your diet, as beets can be eaten raw, cooked, or pickled. You can even drink beet juice and eat beet leaves.
However, there are some cautions and considerations to make before adding them to your diet. Due to their deep red pigmentation, beets can cause urine to turn pinkish, which, although harmless, people often mistake the coloring for blood.
Beets contain oxalates, especially in their leaves, which have antinutrient properties and can lead to kidney stones if eaten in excess. Additionally, beets have FODMAPs which can irritate those with conditions like IBS.