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The Health Benefits of Beets

Beets. What do you know about them? Some people are very knowledgeable about beets, use them a lot, and others use them rarely. This is quite interesting because very few vegetables have the same great divide. But in the case of beets, people tend to either love them or hate them. Sometimes even without a factual base to their opinion. This is often due in part to cultural background or family traditions, because like with many things, if you never try them, you might not have any idea of the value they possess. 

Therefore, this is a great time to learn more about beets and learn about, in particular, about their fantastic health benefits. Bet you didn’t know that beets were good for you, right? Yes, they are very good for your health, but they are also so much more than that. So, let’s dive in and discover more about this sweet, root vegetable. 

WHAT IS A BEET?

Although being a root vegetable that is similar in physical appearance to turnips or rutabagas, beets are beautiful vegetables in terms of color. On the outside, beets have a rough skin that covers them down to their roots and long green stems at the top. This is the part of the plant that grows above ground and can be seen in the vegetable patch. Both the green part of the stems and the roots have been used for food and medicinal purposes at various times in history. The pigment of the beet flesh is often used nowadays as a natural colorant instead of a commercial one in things like food coloring, vegan burgers, tomato paste and wine, and candy. They are a much better alternative than their chemical counterparts. 

RED LIKE A BEET

Ever wonder where that expression comes from? It actually comes from the pigment on the inside of the beet. On the inside, beets are red and sometimes almost fuchsia-colored. In fact, they come in many shades that range from deep red to almost purple color. Although their color is vibrant and beautiful, it is known to stain everything it touches. This made it exceptionally good as a form of makeup in the 19th century. Women and even men were known to add beetroot juice to their cheeks in order to add color to their complexion. It has been used as well as a lip stain in many parts of the world. However, there are also white beets!

DIFFERENT KINDS OF BEETS

Chioggia Beets: This is beet that is also referred to as a “Candy Cane Beet.” No, this is not a Christmas themed beet! The outside of Chioggia beets is red, but the inside is actually striped red and white! So fun! Chioggia beets are considered an heirloom beet, and they have a very distinctive sweetness. 

Golden BeetsGolden beets are a yellow and orange color, and they are more neutral in taste. Not too sweet or too bitter. Because of their muted color, they don’t stain or bleed when handled and cooked.

White Beets: These are the mildest of all the beets. White beets have a delightful taste and are often mistaken for turnips because from the outside, they look very similar.

Formanova Beets: The biggest of the entire beet family! Formanova beets are enormous as compared to others in the beet family. A cylindrical shaped beet, they are most similar to sweet potatoes and can grow to be approximately eight inches long.

Lutz Green Leaf BeetsLutz green leaf beets are a round beet. And are most often up to four times the size of other round beets. They can grow to be six inches in diameter, which is quite large. They are sometimes called “winter keeper” beets, and this is because of their long shelf life. Although they can last a long time, the longer they are kept and the larger they grow, the less sweet they become. However, this is common with many different types of root vegetables.

BEETS AND THEIR NUTRITIONAL VALUE

This is where we get down critical issues. The reasons why you should be eating beets. Now, if you’ve never tried them, you might be thinking that they look slightly suspicious or that you’d prefer to stay away from such a staining vegetable. But the reality is that they are sweet and delicious, and their nutritional value makes it very worth it to start adding beets to your nutrition plan.

Beets are incredibly high in folate, manganese, and copper. Beets greens are also healthy, so don’t throw those out they are packed with vitamins A, C, K, and B2.

Why is all this essential to human health?

  • Let’s begin with folate. You may know this only as folic acid, which is a supplement that is recommended to pregnant women. And yes, it is essential to prevent neural tube defects in babies. However, it is also more than that -it has been known to reduce the risks associated with heart disease, cancer, and even depression.
  • Manganese helps manage the enzymes in the body as well as boots metabolism, aids in healing wounds faster, and keeps your bones healthy and strong.
  • When it comes to keeping the immune system healthy, copper is a go-to, and beets are packed with copper. Copper creates more red blood cells and helps to produce more energy.
  • Red beets, in particular, get their color from phytonutrients. These are called betalains, and they have antioxidant properties as well the ability to fight cancer cells and reduce inflammation in the body.

HERE ARE 10 HEALTH BENEFITS THAT YOU WILL HAVE WHEN CONSUMING BEETS

  1. Beets are good for the heart
  2. Beets can improve sports performance
  3. Eating beets reduces inflammation in the body
  4. Beets can improve your digestive health
  5. The brain is also positively affected by beets
  6. Beets have cancer-fighting abilities
  7. Eating beets boosts your immunity
  8. Beets can even boost your libido
  9. Beets are great for eye health
  10. And beets can even have positive effects for your liver

With all these benefits, you really have no reason not to be eating them!

Now, let’s look into the details of what precisely each of these ten benefits do. 

  • Beets are good for the heart

    Okay, so here’s a fun bit of trivia. When you hear the word nitrates, what do you think of? If your mind automatically goes to the super bad for you nitrates that are found in processed foods and deli meats, then you aren’t wrong. BUT…there’s more than just that! Nitrates are not always harmful to you! In fact, nitrates are actually found in plants such as beets, spinach, carrots, and cabbage, just to name a few!

    So, here’s the thing, nitrates are compounds that are found naturally in certain veggies but are also chemically produced compounds that are added to processed foods. Obviously, the ones that are naturally occurring are healthy, whereas the opposite is true for chemically added nitrates. These chemically added nitrates are known carcinogens, which means they are cancer-causing. 

    What do good nitrates do? Well, they are compounds that morph into nitric oxide in the blood. They open up the blood vessels, thereby lowering your blood pressure and heart rate. 

    • Beets can improve sports performance 

      Sports improvement often occurs when there is more oxygen moving through the body at a faster rate. The healthy nitrates that are found in beets aid in this process. If you are looking to up your endurance levels, then drinking beetroot juice is a great idea. When there is better oxygen flow to the heart and lungs, then those organs don’t have to work as hard, thus allowing them to perform for more extended periods without getting tired. 

      Beets can also improve recovery rates and prevent fatigue. There seems to be less muscle damage during the workout and better recovery times afterward.

      • Eating beets reduces inflammation in the body 

      The betalain in beets is what reduces the inflammation in the body. This is particularly good for heart disease, cancer, obesity, knee, and other joint pain.

      • Beets can improve your digestive health

      Digestive health is really all about fiber. The higher the fiber content, the better it is for the gut. Instead of being digested in the stomach or small intestine, beets are actually able to bypass all of this and only begin to be digested in the colon. There, the gut bacteria ferment the beets and use it for food. The fiber in the beets helps move food through your colon faster.

      • The brain is also positively affected by beets

      Because the nitrates in beets help to increase oxygen to the brain, brain function improves. Our brains run on oxygen, so the more, the better! Better mental clarity, better focus, and higher levels of creativity and logic.

      • Beets have cancer-fighting abilities

      Beets are known for their antioxidant properties, and antioxidants are what fight free radicals. Free radicals are dangerous because they attack healthy cells and turn them into cancerous ones. So consuming beets regularly long before your body shows any signs of free radical damage, is an excellent idea.

      • Eating beets boosts your immunity

      Beets are filled with zinc, copper, and vitamins A and C as well as iron. All of these are known to help boosts immunity. These elements can help ward off infection and sickness as well as carry oxygen through the body and keep that immune system strong. 

      • Beets can even boost your libido

      Back in the days of the ancient Romans, they used beets as an aphrodisiac, but really it is because they are rich, something called mineral boron, which helps produce sex hormones. And, because it enhances blood flow, it can be beneficial for sexual health as well.

      • Beets are great for eye health

      Any vegetable that has a rich pigment is good for the eyes. However, beets are filled with lutein and zeaxanthin, which both can prevent and slow the progression of age-related vision loss.

      • Last but not least, beets can even have positive effects for your liver

      Beets help to keep the liver in good working order because they are filled with iron, antioxidants, betaine, and vitamin B. They help prevent inflammation and oxidative stress of the liver.

      Are there any downsides to eating beets?

      Nothing that is worth being too concerned with. Yes, they have a lot of natural sugar, and yes, if you eat too many, you might find that your urine is stained red; however, the benefits far outweigh the downsides.

      So, if you are looking for a new vegetable to add to your diet, beets can be a delicious and healthy option. There are beet salads and soups. You can roast them, candy them, and glaze them. Serve them alone or with meat and other veggies. The options are endless! Beets have a multitude of health benefits, and they taste great. Even if you have been wary of them in the past, give them a try again, they may just surprise you! 

       

      Sources: 

      https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324898.php

      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4425174/

      https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/vegetable-of-the-month-beets

      http://www.gardening.cornell.edu/homegardening/scene18f3.html

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