By Claire Georgiou, Reboot Naturopath, B.HSc ND
Beets amaze me. They offer many health benefits that can help reduce the risk of some diseases. Beets are unique in their rich combination of betalain pigments. Both betacyanins (red-violet pigments) and betaxanthins (yellow pigments) are present. Here are some of the benefits associated with beets.
1. Lower Blood Pressure
One study found that that people who consumed a glass of fresh beet juice had reduced blood pressure in less than 6 hours. Another study here also showed that the patients drinking the beet juice experienced a 20% improvement in blood vessel dilation capacity and their artery stiffness reduced by around 10%.The benefit comes from the naturally occurring nitrates in beets, which are converted into nitric oxide in your body. Nitric oxide, helps to relax and dilate your blood vessels, improving blood flow and lowering blood pressure. Learn more about how to keep your blood pressure at a healthy level.
2. Improved Physical Performance
Drinking beet juice before exercise was shown to improve exercise and muscle performance, due to the nitric oxide which helps to reduce oxygen expense. The scientists believe this research will be of interest athletes but as well as to older adults and those with metabolic, respiratory or cardiovascular diseases.
3. A Nutrient Powerhouse
One cup of raw beets contains 58 calories, 13g of carbohydrate, 9g of sugar, 4g of fiber and 2g of protein. It also provides daily, 11% of vitamin C, 6% of iron, 5% of vitamin B6, 13% potassium (442mg), 37% of folate(148mcg) and 22% of manganese.
4. Fights Inflammation
Betaine found in beets has been associated with lower levels of several inflammatory markers, including C reactive protein, interleukin-6, cyclo-oxygenase enzymes (COX-1 and COX-2) and tumor necrosis factor. Beets are a unique source of phytonutrients called betalains, they have been shown to provide antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and detoxification support. Unfortunately these precious antioxidants are not very heat stable so enjoying fresh raw beets gives you better anti-inflammatory and detoxification support.
5. Liver and Detoxification Support
The betalin pigments in beets support the Phase 2 detoxification process through the liver which is involved in converting fat soluble metabolic waste and toxins into water soluble by-products that can be easily eliminated via the skin, kidneys and bowels. Want to learn more about how to support your body’s fat burner? Here you go.
6. Anti-Cancer Properties
Research has shown that beet extract reduced multi-organ tumor formations in animal studies. Beetroot extract is also being studied for use in treating human pancreatic, breast, and prostate cancers.
7. Reduces the Risk of Dementia
Researchers at Wake Forest University have found that drinking juice from beetroot can improve oxygenation to the brain, slowing the progression of dementia in older adults. Possibly consuming beetroot juice as part of a high nitrate diet can improve the blood flow and oxygenation to the brain that commonly occurs with increased age.
8. Eases Constipation
Due to beets’ high fiber content combined with their Phase 2 detoxification support through the liver, beets can certainly get things moving along. Here are more tips for constipation.
To reduce the earthy taste that beets have that some people do not like, simply peel the beet thickly to reduce the strong flavor. If you don’t want pink stained kitchen tops, avoid direct contact and chop on a board. To avoid pink hands you can wear gloves.
To prepare beets you can give them a good scrub with a brush and take the top off and peel them (optional).
It’s also great to consume the leaves as they are a powerhouse of nutrition particularly lutein for eye health. Wash the leaves and add them to salads, smoothies and juices.
Juice: Put them straight through the juicer raw. Try these tasty recipes: Workout to the Beet Juice, 3-Ingredient Juice that ‘Beets’ the Bloat, Anti-Aging Beet Grape Juice, Red Velvet Cupcake as a Juice, and even beet juice used in these No-Bake Red Velvet Cake Bites!
Blend: Add to a smoothie to increase the fiber and nutrients. Here are some great blends to try: Berries & Beet Smoothie, Spicy & Sweet Beet Smoothie, Beet-Red Dragon Fruit Smoothie, Rich & Creamy Red Velvet Smoothie
Simmer/Boil/Steam: Chop the beets then cook them to soften them up and add to meals. Here is a great soup recipe: Sweet Beet & Celeriac Soup
Roast: Chop the beet into sized portions that you like and coat with oil, salt and pepper and/or any spice that you fancy and roast for 20-50mins depending on the size. Here are some great roasted beet recipes: Chili Roasted Beet Chips, Roasted Golden Beets, Roasted Kale & Sweet Potato Salad