When I went to my medical doctor for a yearly check-up, he was so glad to see me as I really don’t go to him unless I have to and I don’t have to. That day was my annual check-up so it has been a year I have not seen him. He is such a kind, conscientious, and really caring doctor.
Of course, we had a beautiful conversation and he was impressed by my physical examination. Then we talked about if I was taking any medication and I said, ‘no, not at all. Then, he said, “I know you don’t take them, just asking because you look great and your blood pressure is just as normal as it can be.”
My Doctor’s Suggestion
Then, he asked me what do I do. I told him that I juice different kinds of vegetables and fruits and that’s what I drink every day. Then he said to add beets with them. So I do that now. I mixed beets with the rest of the fruits and vegetables that I juiced and drink that every day.
Introducing a Christmas-like color beet or beetroot?
The beetroot is the taproot portion of a beet plant, usually known in Canada and the USA as beets while the vegetable is referred to as beetroot in British English, and also known as the table beet, garden beet, red beet, dinner beet, or golden beet. It is one of several cultivated varieties of Beta vulgaris grown for their edible taproots and leaves (called beet greens); they have been classified as B. vulgaris subsp. vulgaris Conditiva Group.
Besides being used as a food, beets have used as a food coloring and as a medicinal plant. Many beet products are made from other Beta vulgaris varieties, particularly sugar beet. However, Hippocrates recommended using the greens to heal wounds.
Where does Beet Come From?
Beta is the ancient Latin name for beets, possibly of Celtic origin, becoming bete in Old English. Root derives from the late Old English rōt, itself from Old Norse rót. Using beets for sugar — now done using sugar beets —began in 18th century Germany with a chemist named Andreas Margraff.
Welcome Rainbow Beets
- Chioggia: Also called Candy Cane beets, Chioggia beets are red on the outside and red and white striped on the inside. These are heirloom beets with a distinct sweetness.
- Golden: Golden beets are yellow-orange and have a more neutral taste. They also have the advantage of not bleeding when cooked.
- White: They may have a very mild taste and look like turnips from the outside, but white beets are still in the family.
- Formanova: These beets stand out from the others at almost eight inches long! They’re cylindrical in shape resemblant to sweet potato in size.
- Lutz Green Leaf: This variety can be up to four times the size of other round beets — about six inches in diameter. Also called “winter keeper” beets, these are known for their long shelf life. Note that they become less sweet the larger they grow — a common tradeoff in root vegetables.
Beets Nutrition Facts
Beetroots are especially high in folate, manganese, and copper.
- Folate is essential for DNA synthesis and preventing neural tube defects in babies. It’s also been shown to reduce the risk for heart disease, cancer, and depression.
- Manganese is needed for enzymatic processes in your body, as well as for metabolism, wound healing, and healthy bones.
- Copper keeps your immune system healthy, helps create red blood cells, and supports energy production.
Beet greens are full of vitamins A, C, K, and B2.
Red beets get their rich pigment from phytonutrients called betalains. The two most well-known betalains are vulgaxanthin and betanin, which has antioxidant, cancer-fighting, and anti-inflammatory properties. As you can see, beets are very high in nutrition.
12 Impressive Health Benefits of Beets
Beets are loaded with vitamins and minerals and low in calories and fat. They also contain inorganic nitrates and pigments, both of which have a number of health benefits.
Here is an overview of the nutrients found in a 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of cooked beetroot (1):
- 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
2. Regulate Blood Pressure
Beets contain a high concentration of nitrates, which have a blood pressure-lowering effect. This may lead to a reduced risk of heart attacks, heart failure, and stroke.
Studies have shown that beets can significantly lower blood pressure by up to 4–10 mmHg over a period of only a few hours.
The effect appears to be greater for systolic blood pressure, or pressure when your heart contracts, rather than diastolic blood pressure, or pressure when your heart is relaxed. The effect may also be stronger for raw beets than cooked beets
Blood nitrate levels remain elevated for about six hours after eating dietary nitrate. Therefore, beets only have a temporary effect on blood pressure, and regular consumption is required to experience long-term reductions in blood pressure.
3. Can Improve Athletic Performance
Several studies suggest that dietary nitrates may enhance athletic performance. For this reason, beets are often used by athletes. Nitrates appear to affect physical performance by improving the efficiency of mitochondria, which are responsible for producing energy in your cells
Eating beets may enhance athletic performance by improving oxygen use and time to exhaustion. To maximize their effects, beets should be consumed 2–3 hours prior to training or competing.
4. May Help fight Inflammation
Chronic inflammation is associated with a number of diseases, such as obesity, heart disease, liver disease, and cancer. Beets contain pigments called betalains, which may potentially possess a number of anti-inflammatory properties. However, further research in humans is required to confirm this theory.
5. May Improve Digestive Health
Dietary fiber is an important component of a healthy diet. It has been linked to many health benefits, including improved digestion. One cup of beetroot contains 3.4 grams of fiber, making beets a good fiber source
Beets are a good source of fiber, which is beneficial for digestive health, as well as reducing the risk of a number of chronic health conditions.
6. May Help Support Brain Health
Mental and cognitive function naturally decline with age. For some, this decline is significant and may result in conditions like dementia. A reduction in blood flow and oxygen supply to the brain may contribute to this decline
Beets contain nitrates, which may help increase blood flow to the brain, improve cognitive function and possibly reduce the risk of dementia. However, more research in this area is needed.
7. May Have Some Anti-Cancer Properties
The antioxidant content and anti-inflammatory nature of beets have led to an interest in their ability to prevent cancer. However, the current evidence is fairly limited. Beetroot extract has been shown to reduce the division and growth of tumor cells in animals
Studies in isolated human cells and rats have shown that the pigments in beets may help reduce the growth of cancer cells.
8. May Help You Lose Weight
Beets have several nutritional properties that should make them good for weight loss. First, beets are low in calories and high in water. Increasing your intake of low-calorie foods like fruits and vegetables has been associated with weight loss
Furthermore, despite their low-calorie content, beets contain moderate amounts of protein and fiber. These are both important nutrients for achieving and maintaining a healthy weight. The fiber in beets may also help promote weight loss by reducing appetite and promoting feelings of fullness, thereby reducing overall calorie intake
While no studies have directly tested the effects of beets on weight, it’s likely that adding beets to your diet can aid in weight loss.
9. They Can Boost Your Libido
A European folk belief holds that if a man and woman eat of the same beetroot, they are destined to fall in love. (Kind of an ancient version of sipping a root beer float through two straws. In fact, some old recipes for making authentic root beer include beets among the roots used.)
Beets are rich in the mineral boron, which plays a role in sex hormone production. The effectiveness of dietary nitrates in beets to enhance blood flow can benefit sexual health as well. And some studies suggest beet juice can be effective in treating erectile dysfunction.
10. They Are Good for Your Eyes
It’s no surprise that eating fruits and vegetables is good for your eyes — especially those with rich pigments. Beets contain lutein and zeaxanthin, which are well-studied for their positive impact on vision. Consuming these carotenoids can prevent and slow the progression of age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of adult vision loss in America.
11. They Are Good for Your Liver
Beets have an abundance of nutrients that keep your liver healthy — such as iron, antioxidants, betaine, and vitamin B.Beetroot helps protect the liver from oxidative damage and inflammation. The betaines in beets help the liver eliminate toxins. And betalains encourage the detoxification process. Also, pectin, a water-soluble fiber in these root vegetables, helps flush out toxins from the liver.
12. Delicious and Easy to Include in Your Diet
This last one is not a health benefit, yet it is still important. Not only are beets nutritious, but they are also incredibly delicious and easy to incorporate into your diet. Beets can be juiced, roasted, steamed, or pickled. Also, they can be bought pre-cooked and canned for convenience.
Choose beets that are heavy for their size with fresh, unwilted green leafy tops still attached. Dietary nitrates are water-soluble, so it is best to avoid boiling beets to maximize their nitrate content.
Here are some delicious and interesting ways to add more beets to your diet:
- Beetroot salad: Grated beets make a flavorful and colorful addition to coleslaw.
- Beetroot dip: Beets blended with Greek yogurt make a delicious and healthy dip.
- Beetroot juice: Fresh beetroot juice is best, as store-bought juice can be high in added sugars and may only contain a small number of beets.
- Beetroot leaves: Beet leaves can be cooked and enjoyed like spinach, so don’t throw them out.
Potential Downsides of Beets
Beets have many benefits. But they may have a few negatives to consider:
- They’re very high in oxalates. Foods high in oxalates can reduce the absorption of some nutrients, such as calcium. Iron is often thought to be influenced by oxalates, but not all studies support this. This doesn’t mean you should avoid beets — it just means you should be sure to get calcium and iron from other sources. Too many oxalates can also increase the risk of kidney stones, especially in people with a predisposition.
- They’re relatively high in natural sugar. Beets have a moderately high glycemic load. But a single serving of 1/2 cup of beets has a negligible effect on blood sugar.
- They can surprise you the next day. Don’t panic, but I feel it necessary to tell you to remember when you eat beets. Beets don’t just stain countertops and clothing; they also pass through your digestive tract over the next day or two. This is such a common occurrence that it actually has a name: beeturia.
How red your stool or urine will become depends on a few factors. For instance, how long beets are in your system, how many and what kind you ate, your stomach acidity at the time, and the presence of oxalic acid in your body from other foods.
Beets provide some impressive health benefits. Not to mention, they are low in calories and a great source of nutrients, including fiber, folate, and vitamin C.
Beets also contain nitrates and pigments that may help lower blood pressure and improve athletic performance. Lastly, beets are delicious and versatile, fitting well into a healthy and balanced diet.
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Please let us know in the comments below:
Do you eat beets for a medical reason? How did it help you?
Do you enjoy beets and, if so, what’s your favorite way to eat them?