Beets: Love Them Or Hate Them, How Healthy Are They?
Written by: Ricky Elmer
Beets have been in the human diet since ancient times. Prehistoric food was found growing on the coastlines of Europe, North Africa and Asia. However, our ancestors only consume the beet greens. It wasn’t until the Roman times that they started to consume the beet root, which is simply thought of as a ‘beet’ now-a-days.
Beets contain betalains, a phytonutrient that has been shown to hold anti-inflammatory, detoxification and antioxidant properties. Betalain detox support includes important Phase 2 detox steps. The concentration of betalains within the flesh and peel of beets allows a great opportunity for you to receive the potent health benefits of this plant.
The beet belongs to the chenopod family, which also includes spinach, quinoa and chard. This family of plants continues to exhibit a growing number of health benefits that other food families do not readily have available.
The chenopod family holds epoxy xanthophyll carotenoids, yellow and red betalain pigments and an exceptional relationship between the overall phytonutrients content and our nervous system health, which suggests that this food family is unique in regards to its health value.
Though there have been no large-scale human studies to decide the recommended minimum intake level for any food from the chenopod family, there has been data recorded that suggest you include these foods in your diet at least 1-2 times a week.
Here are some of the top health benefits you can reap from eating beets:
1. Anti-Inflammatory – These red vegetables are a unique source of betaine, a nutrient that aids in protecting enzymes, cells and proteins from environmental stress. They have also been shown to improve vascular risk factors, protect internal organs, help prevent a variety of chronic diseases and fight inflammation.
2. Detoxifying Properties – Your body’s Phase 2 detoxification process is supported by the betalin pigments found in beets. This is the phase where broken down toxins are attached to other molecules, allowing for the excretion of the toxins. Beets have been used traditionally for their detoxifying properties and their help in purifying the blood and liver.
3. Lower Your Blood Pressure – Your blood pressure may be lowered within hours if you drink beet juice. It was found that drinking just one glass of beet juice can lower your systolic blood pressure by an average of 4-5 points. The naturally occurring nitrates found in beets are likely the cause of the drop. The nitrates are converted into nitric oxide within your body, which helps to dilate and relax your blood vessels, thus lowering blood pressure and improving blood flow.
4. Cancer Fighting Properties – The crimson red color that beets have is due to the phytonutrient content. Phytonutrients may help in warding off cancer. A study has shown that when beetroot extract was administered in the drinking water of various animal models, multi-organ tumor formations were reduced. Beetroot extract is currently being studied for use in treating human prostate, breast and pancreatic cancers.
5. Valuable Fiber And Nutrient Content – Fiber, vitamin C and essential minerals are found in beets. Some of the nutrients contained in beets are manganese (good for pancreas, liver, bones and kidneys) and potassium (an essential mineral for healthy muscle and nerve function). B vitamin folate can be found in beets as well, which aids in reducing the risk of birth defects.
6. Stamina Booster – Beet juice has been shown to improve your workout. When consumed before a workout, it can help increase the length of exercise by 16%. The boost is believed to come from the nitrates transforming into nitric oxide, which could reduce oxygen cost in low-intensity workouts as well as increase tolerance for high-intensity exercise.
The only beets I’ve ever been a fan of is the musical variety from the cartoon “Doug.” But now, the knowledge of how beneficial beets are for your overall health has me hungry for some of this red plant. A quick look online for a healthy recipe and a short drive to the grocery store and I will be consuming some chenopod goodness.
What about you? You can start your search for some awesome beet recipes right here! Find any favorites? Feel free to share them with us in the comments below!
Rick Elmer is a freelance writer from Texas who enjoys learning about health and nutrition while striving to make the world a better place. He is passionate about music, meditation, art, traveling the world and helping those around him.
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