Beetroot, also known as red beet, table beet, garden beet, or simply beet, is a popular root vegetable in different parts of the world. Beets are loaded with essential vitamins and minerals and also have many medicinal purposes. They are a wonderful source of vitamin B9, manganese, vitamin C, potassium, iron, and fiber. Beets and beetroot juice have been known to improve blood flow, reduce blood pressure, and boost energy levels.
Of course, let’s not forget that they are absolutely delicious and an easy way to jazz up any meal. You can eat them raw, or cook them, or pickle them to use with meals. Here are some of the health benefits of beets:
Nutritional and Low Calories
Beets have a nutritional profile that is surprising to many. Even though they are loaded with vitamins and minerals, they are known to be low-calorie food.
Below are the nutrients found in a 100 servings of cooked beet:
- Calories: 44
- Protein: 1.7 grams
- Fat: 0.2 grams
- Fiber: 2 grams
- Vitamin C: 6 percent of the RDI
- Folate: 20 percent of the RDI
- Vitamin B6: 3 percent of the RDI
- Magnesium: 6 percent of the RDI
- Potassium: 9 percent of the RDI
- Phosphorous: 4 percent of the RDI
You will also find inorganic nitrates and pigments in beets. These are plant compounds that are highly beneficial to the human body.
1. Lowers Blood Pressure
Did you know that heart disease, such as heart attacks, heart failure, and strokes, are the main causes of death worldwide?
While these can happen due to several reasons, one of the most significant factors leading to heart conditions is high blood pressure. Studies show that beets are effective in lowering blood pressure within just a few hours of consumption. This is especially true for raw beets rather than cooked ones.
Beets lower blood pressure because of the nitrates present. Dietary nitrates are changed to nitric oxide in the body. This is a molecule that causes blood vessels to dilate, and hence, lowering blood pressure. This shows that beets affect blood pressure temporarily. However, regular consumption leads to long-term results.
2. Boosts Athletic Capability
Nitrates present in beets are said to boost performance in athletes. The nitrates increase the efficiency of mitochondria- a component that helps produce energy in the cells.
Seven and eight men in two studies respectively consumed 500 ml of beet juice every day for a total of six days. They noticed that they were able to work out longer during high-intensity workouts, and there was an improvement in their performance at the gym.
Moreover, consuming beet is also known to boost cycling and athletic performance as more oxygen gets used up in the body- approximately 20 percent. In another study, professional cyclists consumed 500 ml of beet juice and found a 2.8 percent increase in their performance.
Keep in mind that blood nitrate levels rise within 2 to 3 hours. Hence, beets should be consumed 2 to 3 hours before hitting the gym or participating in athletic competitions.
3. Fights Inflammation
Inflammation can seriously harm the body. In fact, chronic inflammation can cause obesity, heart disease, liver disease, and cancer. Luckily, beets can help reduce inflammation. They contain betalains that help naturally lower inflammation levels in the body.
According to studies conducted on rats injected with chemicals to induce injury, beetroot juice and extract have helped lower kidney inflammation.
Another study showed that those suffering from osteoarthritis could also benefit from beet. Beet extract is said to lower the pain and discomfort that comes with osteoarthritis.
4. Improves Gut Health
Beet is loaded with fiber, which is essential for a healthy diet. It is no secret that fiber helps boost digestive health. In fact, only one cup of beetroot is loaded with 3.4 grams of fiber.
When fiber is ingested, it reaches the colon, where gut-friendly bacteria feed off it, encouraging proper stool formation. This keeps digestive health in check, preventing constipation, inflammatory bowel disease, and irritable bowel syndrome.
A sufficient fiber intake has also been known to lower the risk of chronic illnesses, such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
5. Supports Brain Health
As you grow older, mental and cognitive functions start to decline when the brain does not receive enough blood and oxygen, conditions such as dementia and Alzheimer’s become common.
The nitrates found in beets are known to increase mental and cognitive function as they allow the dilation of blood vessels, ensuring that the brain receives a good blood supply. Beets help blood reach the frontal part of the lobe. This area is responsible for thinking, making decisions, and forming memories.
6. Encourages Weight Loss
Beets have a low-calorie count but are still high in water. When trying to lose weight, consuming low-calorie food such as fruits and vegetables can help you reach your goal faster.
Even though beets have a low-calorie content, they are high in protein and fiber. Together, these two help promote a healthy weight. The fiber in beetroot can also help suppress appetite by keeping an individual full for longer, reducing his overall intake of food.
There is no denying that beets should be a staple in your diet. Not only are they low in calories, but they are also rich in nutrients, such as fiber, folate, and vitamin C.
The nitrates and pigments in beets help reduce blood pressure, boosting exercise capability. You can easily fit them into any meal to ensure a balanced diet because of their versatility. Rather than consuming artificial protein shakes and supplements, it is always advised to opt for natural substances.