Every summer, a portion of my mom’s garden becomes filled with big, beautiful red beets. We can hardly use them all up, there are so many; fortunately my family loves beets, so they always end up going to good use in salads and other dishes.
These root vegetables make for colorful additions to a meal, and they are also quite good for you. The many health benefits of beets include lowering blood pressure and boosting your physical performance when you exercise.
These root vegetables are packed full of beneficial nutrients. They are high in fiber, for one, which is needed for healthy digestion, cholesterol control, blood sugar stabilization, and more.
Beets are also rich in a variety of antioxidants like flavonoids, carotenoids, and phenolic acids, which help fight oxidative damage and prevent various diseases. They contain betalains, which are responsible for red-violet pigmentation, and which have high antioxidant and anti-inflammatory qualities.
Finally, beets may be most well known for their high content of natural nitrates. While excessive nitrate consumption from processed foods can be harmful to your health, many fruits and vegetables naturally contain nitrates, which are actually quite beneficial, especially in terms of blood pressure reduction and enhancing blood flow in the body. Learn more about nitrates here.
Lower blood pressure. One of the most significant and well-known benefits of eating beets is blood pressure reduction. Beets contain nitrates, which are converted into nitric oxide in the blood. Nitric oxide helps to dilate blood vessels, helping to lower blood pressure. Several studies have found beet supplementation to benefit blood pressure.[1-3] In one study, hypertensive patients took 250 mL of beetroot juice daily for two weeks. This led to an average reduction in systolic blood pressure (the top number) of 7.7 mmHg and 2.4 mmHg for diastolic (the bottom number). These sorts of reductions can do wonders for heart health, lowering the risk for heart disease substantially. To learn more about other foods that lower blood pressure, read The Best DIY High Blood Pressure Diet: The Top 8 Foods to Lower Blood Pressure.
Control blood sugar. Beets taste quite sweet, meaning that they do have a moderately high glycemic index. This might lead you to question whether they would be good for diabetics. However, beets don’t contain a large amount of carbohydrates per serving, meaning they have a lower glycemic load; this means that eating a reasonable amount of beets in one sitting won’t actual raise your blood sugar levels significantly. In fact, beets can actually help you to moderate your blood sugar. They are high in fiber, which helps blood sugar control, and they are high in antioxidants, specifically neobetanin, which helps insulin functioning. In one study, consumption of 225 ml beetroot juice significantly reduced insulin and glucose responses after a meal. Read more about using beets for blood sugar control here.
Enhance physical performance. Beets also seem to help improve endurance and exercise tolerance.[3,5-7] Some of the same reasons that make beets good for blood pressure reduction make them good for exercise as well. Beets stimulate blood flow by helping dilate blood vessels via nitric oxide production. When the body had more access to oxygenated blood, you can work out longer without getting as tired. This leads to improvements in endurance, exercise performance, and perceived levels of exertion. In one study, people could run 5% faster during a 5 km run when they had 200 g baked beetroot 75 minutes before the run, and they also felt less exerted.
If you don’t already eat beets regularly, you may want to start. These healthy root vegetables will keep your blood pressure in check, stabilize blood sugar, and even help you to improve your workout. My personal favorite use of beets it to put fresh grated beets onto my nightly salad with dinner for a colorful and tasty topping. You can also steam beets until they are tender, sprinkle them with some salt and pepper, and enjoy warm.
Beets are also great roasted in the oven with a little olive oil and spices. Look up recipes for beet salads that use ingredients that pair well with the unique flavor of beets, like goat cheese, toasted nuts, balsamic, quinoa, arugula, and more. Finally, try using 100% beetroot juice for a healthy smoothie add-in.
Contributing editor Chelsea Clark is a writer with a passion for science, human biology, and natural health. She holds a bachelor’s degree in molecular and cellular biology with an emphasis in neuroscience from the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, WA. Her research on the relationship between chronic headache pain and daily stress levels has been presented at various regional, national, and international conferences. Chelsea’s interest in natural health has been fueled by her own personal experience with chronic medical issues. Her many profound experiences with natural health practitioners and remedies have motivated Chelsea to contribute to the world of natural health as a researcher and writer for Natural Health Advisory Institute.
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