Why beets? Well, they are a great vegetable staple that is common throughout many European and North American countries. Not only are they already found in many traditional foods (sauerkraut and bortch are just a few), they are easy to store for long periods of time, can be eaten raw, juiced or cooked, and are extremely cheap. Look for firm, brightly colored beets, with the leaves attached, because beets are one of the few vegetables where you can literally eat the entire plant – leaves, stem and root.
All these are very sensible benefits, but we haven’t even touched on the many health benefits of beets. Beets contain tons of vitamins and minerals, and when it comes to root vegetables, they are a powerhouse source of energy due to their natural sugar content. While typical advice suggests staying away from foods high in sugary carbohydrates, it’s a little bit different in terms of the beet. Beets’ benefits in part stem from its natural sugars, and if consumed in reasonable amounts will not cause any untoward health issues. So, without further ado, here are the top reasons why beets are great for your health!
How Beets Benefit your Health
1. Full of Antioxidants
Antioxidants are important for fighting free radicals, which while they are naturally produced by the body, can lead to some serious issues if left unchecked. This includes leading to disease and illness later in life. Beets contain a complex collection of antioxidants in the forms of beta-carotene, betalain and vitamin C.
2. High in Iron
Beets have a high iron content, which is especially potent when eaten as a whole vegetable from root to leaf. The leaves of beets contain even more iron than spinach, and offer a great dietary solution for iron deficiency.
3. Reduces Inflammation
There are a series of phytonutrients found within beets that target inflammation, according to the current research. It’s highly likely that you’ve never heard of any of these, but they include betanin, isobetanin, and vulgaxanthin. Inflammation is mainly caused by activation of COX-1 and COX-2 enzymes which are like tiny messengers that trigger inflammation in times of need. However, with the assistance of some of the phytonutrients found in beets, these enzymes are prevented from sending the appropriate messages to start the inflammatory process.
Beets also contain other substances that assist with inflammation, including something called betaine which specifically seems to target cardiovascular inflammation. All these special nutrients could be extremely beneficial in cases of an overactivation of the inflammatory response, including for illnesses like diabetes and arthritis.
The betanin pigments found in beets are continually evidenced to be extremely beneficial for basic biological processes. Another example of where they come into play is through the natural detoxification process performed at the cellular level. Betanin allows cells to extract toxins, and tag them on to passing nutrients. This is called Phase 2 detoxification, whereby cells pass toxins on to nutrients which will eventually pass out of the body through urine and excrement.
Betanin is the vital substance that allows the toxin to be neutralized and become water soluble. It is especially connected with the activation of an enzyme from the glutathione-S-transferase family, which is a key player in the Phase 2 detoxification process.
5. Reduces Tumor Cell Growth
The preliminary research has shown interesting results in laboratory conducted studies in relation to compounds in beets and cancer cells. Researchers have found that the betanin pigments in beets was able to reduce the tumor cell growth of a number of different cancer cells, including colon, stomach, lung, nerve, prostate, and testicular.
6. High in Folate Acid
In a single cup of beets you can find so many powerful nutrients, many of which can be hard to find in other fruits and vegetables, especially in such quantities. For example, one cup of beets contains roughly 38% of your recommended daily value of folate acid. Folate is extremely important during pregnancy for proper fetal development, and is also important for sperm vitality.
7. High in Manganese
Did you know that only one cup of beets contains 28% of your daily manganese requirement? Manganese is extremely important for maintaining bone strength and overall density. It also is beneficial for controlling blood sugar levels, which is interesting considering beets are naturally sugary.
8. Increases Stamina
In at least one study beet juice was shown to increase performance if consumed prior to a work out. In fact, it showed that on average people were able to exercise for up to 16 minutes longer if they had beet juice beforehand.
9. Lowers Blood Pressure
If you struggle to lower your blood pressure naturally, try including a few more beets into your diet. One study demonstrated that with only one glass of beet juice, the blood pressure of the participants was reduced over an extremely short period of time by 4-5 points.
10. Low in Calories
For many people who love to juice, they know the struggles of making a low-calorie juice, simply because most fruit contains tons of natural sugars. Although beets are naturally sweet, they also are low in calories, which makes them a great addition to any juice.