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What Are the Health Benefits of Beets?

What Are the Health Benefits of Beets?

Beets, or beetroots, are also known by their scientific name Beta Vularis. Beets can be cooked in a variety of ways, including pickling, canning, and roasted as well as being eaten fresh.

In the 1740’s the sugar beet was discovered in Upper Silesia (now known as Poland), and it was being used to produce sugar to add to other foods. Napoleon Bonaparte endorsed the growing and processing of sugar beets when he announced an embargo with the British in 1813. The Forage beet, or Manglewertzle, is known as “root beet”, and for a time this beet was left in the ground for sheep and other farm animals to uproot and consume, especially during the winter season.

Beets Boost Athletic Performance Boosters

According to a study conducted by the Sport and Health Sciences Department of Exeter University in the United Kingdom, 10 healthy men consumed 70, 140 or 280 millileters of concentrated beetroot, and results showed that plasma increased in a dose-dependant manner. These changes were mainly significant at 2 to 3 hour intervals after consumption. Professor Andy Jones states that consuming an amount of dietary nitrate makes a difference to its impact on the body. Due to the high nitrate content in beets oxygen consumption in people participating in athletic activities decreased by 3%.

Beets Lowers Blood Pressure

Simply drinking 1 glass of beetroot juice can make a difference in how many trips you take to the doctor to check on your blood pressure. According to a study which monitored subjects within hours of drinking it, beetroot juice was found to lower systolic blood pressure by an average of 4 to 5 points. Another study had 24 hypertensive subjects aged 25 to 68 divided into 2 groups. These groups consumed either raw beet juice or cooked beet juice for 2 weeks, and results showed that the raw beet juice had greater anihypertensive effects. High-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP) and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-a) were significantly lower and flow-mediated dilation (FMD) was significantly higher after raw beet juice consumption.

Beets Help to Fight Off Cancer

Beets are also helpful for those who have cancer symptoms or have full-blown cancer. One study had a 76 year-old patient who was diagnosed with B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia (BCLL) consumed beetroot-carrot juice as a form of therapy along with conventional leukemia treatment. After 1 month and 15 days of administration results showed that there was an improved appetite, a sense of general sense of well-being and increased vigor daily activities. There was also a reduction in leukocytes and lymphocytes in the blood. The combination of a betanin/isobetanin concentrate has been found to have a preventive role against cancer. This concentrate has been found to act as a therapeutic anticancer compound.

Beets Are Packed Full of Antioxidants

Beets are very rich in antioxidants. One study analyzed and compared the contents of total phenolic (TP), total flavonoid (TF), total antioxidant capacities (TAC), and individual anthocyanin contents. This study states that home-processing techniques such as juicing, pureeing, pickling, boiling and oven-drying are all generally safe when it comes to beets. The highest recovery rate of TP and TAC was found in beet jam. Beetroot nutritional gel is also helpful for your skin because it contains high contents of bioaccessible dietary nitrate and antioxidants. Another study found that regular use of red beet products in diets may provide protection against certain oxidative stress-related disorders in humans.

Beets Promote Better Brain Function

Consuming beets can help restore some of your cognitive functions. A study featured 16 elderly people that went on a diet either low or high in nitrates for 4 days, and the study suggests that blood flow was better equipped to reach different regions of the brain after consuming beets within a short time interval. Hypoxia is a key factor in the decline of physical and cognitive function in people as they age. Hypoxia is a combination of poor blood flow and a restricted oxygen supply. 

In the areas of the body where oxygen is needed the most, nitrite has the ability to increase blood flow. Nitrite is what nitrate converts into. Another study had elderly subjects perform many cognitive tasks for 54 minutes after a 90-minute drink/absorption period where either placebo juice or 450 millileters of beetroot juice was consumed. Cognitive performance was found to improve on the serial 3s subtraction task.

Beets Contain Anti-Inflammatory Properties

According to Dr. Victor Marchione beets effectively detoxify your liver by allowing your liver to eliminate toxins more quickly. The liver produces bile, which breaks down fats into fatty acids. Most importantly Vitamins A, D, E and K, all of which are fat-soluble, are broken down as well. Blood is distributed through the body once it is cleaned up, making an increased bile production possible. Beets contain phytonutrients called betalains, and the two betalains found in beets are betanin and vulgaxanthin. It is recommended that beets not be cooked for too long a time or else the key healthy substances in them will be lost.

Another good indicator of its worth as an anti-inflammatory aid is that the beet is high in carbohydrates (87% of daily value), and rich in folate (148 micrograms and 37% of daily value). Folate is known to protect the body from injury and illness.

Beets Treat Constipation

Beets are rich in natural iron, containing 1.1 milligram or 6% of daily value. If one is going to consume beets, then preferably young beets should be consumed. The leaves of beets are just as edible as the beets themselves as they can blend in with spinach leaves and be part of a salad along with prunes and onions. Beets contain soluble and insoluble fiber. The dietary fiber content in beets amounts of 3.8 grams of 15% of daily value.

Due to the fact that beets give the body help when it comes to saving oxygen, it’s no surprise that the betanin in beets plays a role in preventing inflammatory bowel diseases. The results of a study that tested the modulating of the reactive oxygen species (ROS) with betanin suggest that betanin may support mechanisms that lead to the release of ROS and apoptotic (harmful) cell death.

There is actually a unique way to tell if your stool is healthy or not. According to holistic nutritionist Joy McCarthy there is the “beet test” where the color of your stool will be determined after 12 or 24 hours of consuming beets. The more red your stool turns out to be in color, the more you will know that you have a slow transit time. It could also help to have a meal that includes beets and grapefruit essential oil, a combination that protects both bowel movement and the urinary tract.

Frances Masters

Frances Masters is a BACP accredited psychotherapist with over 30,000 client hours of experience. Follow her @fusioncoachuk, or visit The Integrated Coaching Academy for details about up coming training.