Beetroot powder is one of my favorite ways to add beautiful color to homemade beauty products. However, beets are amazing for reasons beyond their stunning color. Beetroots and beet greens are amazing powerhouses of nutrition and can assist the body in multiple ways when included in a nutritious diet.
What’s in a Beet?
Beetroots are an incredible food which has a different nutritional profile. They contain a little bit of everything!
Take a look at this list:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin B6
Beets contain phytonutrients such as betalains. Beets are particularly high in betalains which are responsible for giving beets their color and have many health benefits of their own (read on for all those benefits!) .
You may not believe this if you’re not a beer enthusiast, but beets are sometimes known as”nature’s candy” since they’re so naturally sweet! Beets do have a high sugar content (compared to other vegetables) but a low glycemic load so most people can eat them without problems. They also contain lots of dietary fiber, which helps slow digestion of sugars.The Bountiful Benefits of Beets!
All of us know that vegetables are an important part of a nutritious diet. Most vegetables contain fiber (helps digestion) and lots of minerals and vitamins that are essential for a healthy body. However, beets contain some specific nutrients which set them apart.
Inflammation is an important mechanism that the body uses to fight invaders and heal injuries. But many times inflammation does not go away (due to diet, lifestyle, and underlying disease) and can become chronic. Chronic inflammation and oxidative stress are implicated as the cause of several age-related diseases and cancers.
Research demonstrates that beets can lower inflammation and oxidative stress. A 2014 study found that beetroot supplements reduced oxidative stress and inflammation in rats.
A 2016 study found that beet juice reduced inflammatory markers in people with high blood pressure. This study found that raw beet juice had better outcomes than cooked.
Support Heart Health
Lower inflammation and oxidative stress are two things which could have a huge effect on heart health. But beets also appear to have direct effects on lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. Beetroot juice reduced both systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure in a study published in the British Journal of Nutrition.
Beets also reduce LDL cholesterol in people with uncontrolled blood pressure, according to a 2017 study. However, beets didn’t affect cholesterol in those who did not have uncontrolled blood pressure.
Might Be Anti-Cancer
Cancer is a growing problem today, with over 38 percent of people getting a cancer diagnosis at some point in their lifetime, according to the National Cancer Institute.
Dr. Mark Hyman talks about how we approach cancer treatment and prevention in our society in a blog article. He writes,
The problem with cancer–one which almost no oncologists think about–isn’t the tumor, but the garden in which the tumor grows.” In other words, we have to appear at the body as a whole and ask,”why is this tumor growing?” The answer, he writes, is usually a combination of diet, lifestyle, thoughts, and environmental toxins.”
Beets can be an awesome tool in developing a healthy”garden,” but beets alone can’t correct a bad diet or an unhealthy lifestyle. That having been said, studies are finding that beets have a beneficial effect on tumor cells. One 2013 studies discovered that beetroot extract reduced multi-organ tumor formation in animals. Researchers in another study revealed that the melanin in beets is probably what causes the destruction of cancer cells, though they say more study is needed.
Beets are full of antioxidants, specifically betanin. Melanin helps the transcription and expression of enzymes like glutathione. Glutathione is one of the most important nutrients in the body. It helps recycle and create antioxidants to maintain cellular health and is vital for detoxification in the liver.
Beets are also a good source of pectin. Pectin acts as a chelator and it binds to toxins and removes them from the body.
Improves Cognitive Function
While nitrates have gotten a bad rap (mostly due to cured meats), they are actually a healthy and important part of the diet. Nitrates from vegetables convert to nitric oxide in the body which can help relax blood vessels and increase circulation. This includes increasing blood flow to certain parts of the brain that are essential for cognitive function.
Beets are an awesome source of organic nitrates. Studies indicate that beetroot juice as part of a high nitrate diet can positively affect cognitive function in people of all ages.
Other research published in The Journal of Neuroscience suggests that Alzheimer’s disease may be caused, in part, by folate deficiency. Beets are a rich source of folate. As it’s in a natural form (folate rather than folic acid) the folate in beets is more bioavailable to most people.
Improves Endurance and Athletic Performance
As stated previously, beets are an awesome source of organic nitrates. These nitrates are converted into nitric oxide, which helps improve oxygen flow. Nitrates were also found in a 2011 study to improve the efficiency of mitochondria (the powerhouse of the cells).
A 1985 study found that nitrates from beetroot juice prolonged the time to exhaustion in low-intensity exercise. Additionally, it reduces the amount of oxygen muscles need during exercise.
Boosts Eye Health
While the beetroot is accountable for many of their health benefits, beet greens are pretty amazing too. Beet greens are a good source of lutein and zeaxanthin which help improve eye health. According to research published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, lutein and zeaxanthin are the only carotenoids reported to be present in the eye lens. These carotenoids act as antioxidants to protect eye health.The Way to Eat Beets (More)
The two beetroots and beet green are amazing foods that you can grow easily at home if you have a small garden space. Beets come in a variety of colors from purple to light gold, but they all have the same nutritional profile. Whether you grow your own delicious beets or get them at the farmers market or grocery store, the important thing is to eat them! Here are some ways to enjoy beets regularly.
- Beet Kvass — Beet kvass is a fermented beet juice that has all of the nutritional power of beets with the added benefit of natural probiotics. It’s been used traditionally to treat illness and cleansing the liver. Learn how to make it here.
- Pickled Beets — If you’re growing your own beets particularly, pickling your abundance is a fantastic way to preserve them for winter and enjoy the health benefits annually. Pickling can mean using vinegar to maintain the beets or using lacto-fermentation to preserve them. Either way is fine, but fermenting adds another health benefit of organic probiotics.
- Salads — There are many ways to utilize beets in salads. Among the simplest ways would be to shred them over a tossed salad how you would use carrots. This adds nourishment and a pretty color to your salad! Beet greens make a delicious addition to the greens of the salad also. These are my go-to salad recipes.
- Smoothies — Add cooked or shredded beets into strawberry smoothies. I promise you won’t be able to taste them! Beet greens are also great in smoothies.
- Fruit Leather — Add beets into a fruit leather for Additional nutrition.
- Roast Them — Roasted beets are a fun treat. The roasting helps bring out the sweetness of the beets. Roasted beets are more like roasted potatoes than any other roasted root vegetable. I really like this arugula salad with roasted beets. .
- Cooked Beets — Of course, you can just boil beets to eat as part of your dinner. While the feel is hated by others, some like beets boiled.
Too Much of a Good Thing?
Beets are most nutritious when uncooked or cooked lightly (not too long). But, beet greens and beets have a large quantity of a chemical called oxalates. Oxalates can result in kidney stones and arthritis in some vulnerable people. Leaky gut and MTHFR mutations make you more likely to be sensitive to a lot of oxalates. However, as with anything in life, moderation is key.
The point is, adding beets and beet greens into a nutritious diet is good. Eating beets at every meal rather than a variety of vegetables is probably not good! In case you have a history of kidney or arthritis stones, you may want to go easy on the beets. Check with your doctor to figure out what is best for you.