The color of a vegetable says a lot about its nutritional value. Pigments are where a great many of the beneficial phytonutrients and antioxidants live.
Beetroots come in deep crimson and gold with lovely variations. Edible and delicious hot or cold, beets have been eaten for millennia for their versatility and positive effects on the body.
Here are just a few reasons to eat more beets.
1. Fights Cancer
Betanin, an antioxidant found in beets, has been shown to prevent the formation of cancerous tumors. In fact, the chemotherapy drug Adriamycin contains synthetic betanin. Get this powerful compound straight from the source by munching on some bortsch or pickled beets.
2. Heals Constipation
The dietary fiber content in beets is significant. Fiber is important to move food through the digestive system, cleaning the surfaces of your bowels and absorbing toxins on its way out.
3. Detoxifies Liver
Beet phytonutrients betaine, betalain, and pectin all support proper liver function. Betaine prevents fats from accumulating in the liver to prevent fatty liver disease and other diseases and damage. On the other hand, betalain is a potent anti-inflammatory antioxidant while pectin is a fiber, which aids in digestion.
4. Improves Blood Flow
Nitrates (a naturally-occurring salt) in vegetables like beetroot and other leafy vegetables are converted to nitric oxide in the body. Nitric oxide relaxes and expands blood vessels, increasing blood flow. This, in turn, reduces blood pressure, improves physical performance, and works as a treatment for sickle cell anemia. The amino acid betaine also prevents the build-up of homocysteine (another amino acid) in the blood, which can lead to problems with the circulatory system.
5. Contains Iron
Many people don’t get enough iron in their diets, leading to fatigue at its mildest and anemia at its extreme. Iron deficiency can manifest in many ways and can leave your cells deprived of oxygen throughout your body. Beets are rich in iron and vitamin C, which helps your body absorb the mineral.
6. Eases Menstrual Pain and Menopause Symptoms
Menstruation and menopause are known to cause an influx of hormones. Phytochemicals found in beets help balance out hormone and increase estrogen production to minimize your monthly rollercoaster. Plus, the iron in beets helps maintain the important blood mineral when it’s needed most, reducing fatigue and irritability. Lastly, vitamin B9 (folate) helps to regulate menstrual periods.
7. Stabilizes Mood and Mental Health
Beets contain tryptophan, an amino acid that promotes a feeling of well-being and relaxation. Another compound, betaine, causes the metabolization of body chemical SAM-e (as the result of amino acid synthesis), which is a natural anti-depressant. One study showed “… that some patients have a dramatic response to SAM-e even after failing on prescription antidepressants”. If that’s not enough, by promoting better blood flow to the brain, beets can improve cognitive function and prevent dementia.
8. Improves Muscle Strength, Endurance, and Performance
Beets feed your muscles with increased iron-rich blood flow, nitrites, and magnesium. A study at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri showed a significant increase in muscle strength almost immediately after drinking beet juice (4).
9. Healthy Skin
Folate is one of the B vitamins critical for skin health. Plus, it can prevent skin cancer and stimulate repigmentation of white skin patches of vitiligo.
One report found that:“Based on the available data, beetroot appears to be a powerful dietary source of health promoting agents that holds potential as therapeutic treatment for several pathological disorders. The powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and vascular-protective effects offered by beetroot and its constituents have been clearly demonstrated by several in vitro and in vivo human and animal studies; hence its increasing popularity as a nutritional approach to help manage cardiovascular disease and cancer. In the human studies to date, beetroot supplementation has been reported to reduce blood pressure, attenuate inflammation, avert oxidative stress, preserve endothelial function and restore cerebrovascular haemodynamics…several studies have now established beetroot supplementation as an effective means of enhancing athletic performance.”
10. Prevents Birth Defects
Beets contain folate, which is instrumental in healthy fetal development. In particular, the mineral ensures proper development of the fetal spinal cord to prevents the risk of defects such as spina bifida. Beets also eases the stress of carrying a child on the mother-to-be by improving digestion and immunity as well as preventing pregnancy-induced osteoporosis and joint pain.
11. Fights Inflammation
This colorful root contains powerful antioxidants that fight cell damage and anti-inflammatory agents that lower your risk of disease and cancer.
12. Treats High Blood Pressure
As mentioned above, beets improve blood flow and ensure blood vessel health. In fact, a study published in the Journal Of Nutrition found that “a daily glass of beetroot juice can lower blood pressure in people with hypertension – even those whose high blood pressure was not controlled by drug treatment.”
“The patients in the active supplement group also experienced a 20 percent or so improvement in blood vessel dilation capacity and their artery stiffness reduced by around 10 percent. Studies show such changes are linked to reduced risk of heart disease,” reports Medical News Today.
And the power of the beetroot doesn’t stop there:
- Vitamins – A (beta carotene), B complex, C
- Minerals – calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, zinc, manganese, copper
- Antioxidants – anthocyanin, betalain, carotenoids, phenolic acids, flavonoids
Add some beets to your next salad, juice, soup, or stew to get a rich influx of a variety of nutrients.