8 Reasons to Eat More Beets (& 15 Recipes to Try)
By Claire Georgiou, Reboot Naturopath, B.HSc ND
The benefits of beets really amazes me and I’m often in awe of this fabulous vegetable. They offer so many specialized health benefits that will improve your health, reduce disease risk and make you look and feel fabulous. Beets are unique in their rich combination of betalain pigments. Both betacyanins (red-violet pigments) and betaxanthins (yellow pigments) can be found in beets. Beets are not necessarily a vegetable that gets eaten very often and many people do not know how to prepare them. So here we wanted to get you familiar with these fab roots and leaves with all their wonderful healthy properties and how you can consume them regularly in your diet, and enjoy their taste!
So what’s so good about beets?!
- 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.
- Improved Physical Performance
Drinking beet juice before exercise showed to improve exercise and muscle performance, this effect was due to the nitric oxide which helps to reduce oxygen expense. The scientists believe the finding will be of interest not only to athletes but also to elderly people and those with metabolic, respiratory or cardiovascular diseases. The wonderful vegetable can simply help improve energy for everyone so drink up!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
How to Prepare Beets (Without an Earthy Taste!)
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.
- 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
- Grate: Grate beets to boost a delicious salad or use in a burger patty like this Burger that Beets. They can also be used in muffins much like carrot and apple and they go very well with cacao and chocolate based foods. You can also finely slice them for a salad in this (Gorgeous) Simple Salad with Healthy Fats.
And lastly, don’t be put off If you urine turns pink after eating beets! This can happen in some people (10-15%) and don’t run screaming from the bathroom if you notice the toilet bowl gets a red tinge after you have paid it a lengthier visit, it’s all good!