Can't Beat Beets!

We all know that beets carry potent nutrition.  But there may be more to beets than you realize.

Below are seven health benefits and reasons to increase your consumption of this sweet veggie.  Beets lend themselves to creative cooking... from raw in salads, to boiled, roasted, juiced and used in desserts as well as dried and powdered for food coloring and dye!

potato-beet salad

Below are the 7 surprising benefits:

1. Blood pressure

Beets are rich in nitrates, which the body converts to nitric oxide—a compound that relaxes and dilates blood vessels, turning them into superhighways for your nutrient- and oxygen-rich blood. That means better circulation, and possibly lower blood pressure.

A study published in Hypertension in 2008 found that folks who drank the red root juice had a 10 mm Hg drop in blood pressure and less blood clotting three hours later, compared to those who drank water. 

2. Lower Heart Disease Risk 

Beets are rich in a plant alkaloid called betaine, as well as the B-vitamin folate, which together deliver a one-two punch for lowering blood levels of homocysteine, which in high levels increases your risk for artery damage and heart disease.

3. Improve Your Stamina

In one study, cyclists who drank beet juice could pedal hard 15% longer in a time trial to exhaustion. It takes about three to five beets (depending on their size, which varies widely) to get a performance boost, says study author Andy Jones, PhD, dean of research in the College of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Exeter. “Peak nitrate levels occur two to three hours after you eat or drink them,” he says.

4. Brain Juice!

Nitric oxide relaxes and dilates your blood vessels, which in turn increases blood flow to the brain—which could bring on better brain function. That’s particularly important as we age, as research finds that our capacity to generate nitric oxide diminishes as we get older, along with our brain's energy metabolism and neuron activity. So give your brain a boost with beets. 

5. Happier Liver

Your liver does the heavy work of cleaning your blood and “detoxing” your body. You can lighten its load with a daily serving of beets. Research shows that betaine, an amino acid found in beets (as well as spinach and quinoa) can help prevent and reduce the accumulation of fat in the liver. 

6. Better at Fighting Chronic Diseases

Beets are also rich in betalains, a class of potent antioxidants and anti-inflammatories that battle free radical- and inflammation-related chronic diseases like heart disease, obesity, and possibly cancer. Speaking of cancer, research suggests that betacyanin, the pigment that gives beets its pretty purple hue may help protect against common carcinogens; it has also shown promise against laboratory-grown breast cancer cells and is currently being investigated as a cancer-fighter.   

My NOTE: Since beets are high in sugar, so limit your consumption to 8oz a day, taken in 2 doses.

7. You Become Regular

“One way to beat irregularity and constipation is by eating fiber-rich foods like beets,” says Leslie Bonci, RD, sports nutritionist at Pittsburgh-based company Active Eating Advice. One cup of beets delivers about 4 grams of dietary fiber, particularly insoluble fiber, which helps reduce the risk of constipation, hemorrhoids, and diverticulitis.