Okay. Before I lose myself in thoughts of my crush, let me come to the point.
That’s about beetroot. Not just the fact, but it, as a vegetable, is simply the coolest thing manufactured by Mother Earth.
And also (one of) the most nutritious. I am not going to tell you how. You have to read and find out for yourself.
What Is Beetroot?
Touted as one of the healthiest veggies. The beetroot is the taproot portion of the beet plant. It is one of the many varieties of the genus Beta vulgaris, all of which are mostly grown for their edible taproots and leaves. Apart from being used as food, beetroot is also used as a medicinal plant and as a food colorant.
Right from the Middle Ages, beetroot has been used not just as food, but also as a treatment for numerous conditions. Popularly known as beet, the vegetable is called Chukandar in Hindi, Remolachas in Spanish, and Hong cai tou in Chinese. And back in the Indian households, beets have been used for a long time as a treatment for anemia.
Are Beets Good For You?
And, by the way, beets are also called blood turnips. They are low in sodium and fat – which already shows us why they are good. They are a good source of folate, and hence support mental and emotional health.
Beets are chock-full of other nutrients like iron, manganese, copper, potassium, and magnesium – all of which have their individual benefits. Even raw beets have terrific benefits – one of them being the ability to prevent cancer.
Not just the vegetable, but even the leaves have something to offer. Beet greens, as we call them, are packed with fiber and protein. They also contain vitamin K (blood clotting properties) and calcium (for strong bones and teeth).
Beet juice can be healthy as well. Just 200 ml of the juice a day is all one needs to reap its benefits. And talking about the juice, there is one common doubt lingering in several minds – to juice or not to juice?
Even though beet juice is a more concentrated source of betalains, cooked beets contain more fiber. So, what’s the point of juicing the vegetable, you might ask. Well, here’s the point – beet juice contains all those nutrients that might otherwise be lost in the process of cooking. The juice is also easier to digest.
All of this, let me tell you, is because of what beets contain. Obviously. Which is what we will see now.
1. Lowers Blood Pressure
I am not sure if the sun rises every twenty-four hours, but our blood pressure surely does.
At least, for most of us. Especially with a job that demands the best of us. So, what do you do? Simple. Eat beets.
Want to know the connection between beets and blood pressure? In a study conducted at the Queen Mary University of London, beetroot juice was found to lower blood pressure in a matter of four weeks. As per experts, this is because of the presence of nitrates, which the body converts into nitric oxide. And in the process, the blood vessels expand .
Also, consuming beetroot juice regularly can prolong these good effects. So, if you are thinking of what to snack on as you watch your favorite TV series in the evenings, you now know. Consuming as much as 250 ml of beet juice a day can have effects better than most antihypertensive drugs. But hey, talk to your doc before you do this.
Another study conducted by the Newcastle University of London revealed similar findings – inorganic nitrate and beet juice supplementation helped lower blood pressure. This might benefit individuals at a risk of cardiovascular disease.
2. Good For The Heart
What we saw in the above point. The nitrates in beets lower the blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease and strokes.
As per a study, just one week of regular beetroot juice dosing can improve endurance and blood pressure in older individuals at a risk of heart failure.
Another American study has stated that the ingestion of beet juice prevents myocardial infarction (obstruction of blood supply to a tissue in the heart).
According to a report published by the Kansas State University, beetroot improves the delivery of oxygen to the working skeletal muscles . When the working skeletal muscles don’t get enough oxygen, they are impaired and decrease one’s capacity to move their arms or legs. This results in decreased physical activity, ultimately leading to heart disease.
3. Helps Prevent Cancer
Beetroot extract might have the potential to prevent cancers of the breast and prostate. This can be attributed to the presence of betanin (a form of betalain) in beetroot.
In another study conducted at the Howard University of Washington, beetroot ingestion was found to prevent lung and skin cancers.
Beetroot juice, when taken along with carrot extract, was found to aid in the treatment of leukemia. Numerous studies have supported the anticancer and chemopreventive properties of beets.
In another French study, betanin was found to significantly decrease cancer cell proliferation.
4. Good For The Liver
The presence of calcium, betaine, B vitamins, iron, and antioxidants keeps beets amongst the best liver foods. Beets also thin the bile, allowing it to easily flow through the liver and small intestine – this further enhances liver health.
Betaine in beets also helps the liver eliminate toxins. The fiber in beets clears the toxins that have been removed from the liver – making sure they don’t reenter the body.
The liver also contains zinc and copper, both of which can protect the liver cells from oxidative stress.
And as per a Polish study, beetroot can also protect the liver from oxidative damage.
5. Boosts Energy Levels
Studies have found that beetroot makes the muscles more fuel-efficient, thereby enhancing stamina. One such study involved men aged from 19 to 38, who cycled on exercise bikes. Intaking about half a liter of beet juice a day enabled them to cycle 16 percent longer without getting exhausted.
And once again, the nitrates deserve the credit. Scientists believe that the nitrates in beetroot also help improve blood flow, cell signaling, and hormones – all of which play a role in increasing the energy levels.
Beetroot was also found to reduce the muscle usage of adenosine triphosphate, which is the body’s chief energy source. This conserves energy and helps one stay active for longer.
As per another study, eating beetroot gave runners a modest edge over others who didn’t – which amounted to an average of 41 seconds in a 5k run. The reason being beetroot’s ability to enhance the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood. It also reduces the amount of oxygen the muscles need to perform optimally.
Another study showed how beetroot enhanced the performances of international-level female kayak athletes. The athletes had received two 70 ml beetroot shots two hours before the trials – and they had noticed a change.
Beetroot has also been found to reduce the oxygen cost of exercise. In tests conducted on exercising rats, beet juice supplementation was found to enhance blood flow to the limbs. The vegetable can also improve exercise performance in individuals suffering from peripheral artery disease.
6. Fights Inflammation
Their generous helpings of folate, fiber, and betalains place beets amongst the best anti-inflammatory foods on the planet.
As per an Iranian study, beetroot, especially in the juice form, was effective in treating inflammation. Another Egyptian study found that beetroot extract could treat inflammation in the kidneys.
7. Promotes Brain Health
Beets are known to improve brain neuroplasticity by improving the oxygenation of the somatomotor cortex – the brain area that is usually affected in the early stages of dementia.
In another study, when older hypertensive adults were given a beet juice supplement (in addition to exercise), their brain connectivity began to closely resemble that of younger adults.
The nitrates in beets, as we have seen, are converted into nitric oxide within our body. This nitric oxide allows the brain cells to communicate with each other, thereby enhancing brain health. Nitrates also improve blood flow to the brain.
Beetroot juice has also been found to prevent Alzheimer’s. As per certain studies, those who drank beetroot juice had healthier brains and improved cognitive functioning.
According to another UK study, dietary nitrate can improve cerebral blood flow, thereby enhancing brain functioning.
8. Controls Blood Sugar
This has more to do with sugar beets. According to an Iceland study, the fiber from sugar beets can reduce hyperglycemia.
And as per another UK study, consumption of beetroot juice was found to suppress postprandial (during or after lunch or dinner) glycemia.
9. Aids Digestion
What are the benefits of eating beets regularly? Well, regular consumption of beet or beet products has been found to improve digestion and blood quality. And according to another report, the juice of white beets can open the obstructions of the liver and spleen. Red beets can also be useful in treating illnesses related to the digestive system and blood.
In fact, red beets have a prominent place in history when it comes to abdominal health. Romans had used beets to treat constipation and other related ailments.
As they are rich in fiber, beets can help treat diverticulitis. Fiber also aids the bowel movement and enhances the overall health of the digestive system.
10. Reduces Bad Cholesterol
In an animal study, rats fed with beet extracts saw a decrease in the total cholesterol levels and an increase in good cholesterol. Though more research is required in this aspect, the study authors believe that the soluble fiber in beets can have these beneficial properties.
Beetroot is also one of those few foods that is low in calories and contains zero cholesterol.
11. Benefits Pregnancy
A study focused on the possibility of beets, especially because of their nitrate supplementation, being beneficial for pregnant women. However, more research is required.
Beets are also rich in folic acid, which is one very good reason for pregnant mothers to include them in their diet. Folic acid helps prevent neural tube defects in the baby.
12. Helps Treat Anemia
We know the deficiency of iron causes anemia. It has been found that beets are rich in iron, and the absorption of iron is better from beetroot than a few other vegetables.
According to a report by the University of Maryland Medical Center, beet greens are also rich in iron and can help combat anemia. The folate in beets is also found to fight against anemia.
13. Improves Sexual Health
Believe it or .. well .. you need to believe it – beetroot has been used as an aphrodisiac since the Roman times. Beets contain good amounts of boron, a mineral directly related to the production of sex hormones . Beets are also relaxing. Betaine in beets relaxes your mind, and tryptophan contributes to happiness – both of which can help you get in the mood.
According to a Saudi Arabian study, beetroot juice can also help treat sexual weakness.
14. Prevents Cataract
Beets are great sources of carotenoids that can reduce the risk of cataract formation. They also help prevent age-related macular degeneration.
15. Promotes Stronger Bones And Teeth
Beets are rich in calcium, and we know strong bones and teeth are impossible without the mineral.
16. Aids Weight Loss
One characteristic that makes beetroot the ideal weight loss food is its natural sweetness. Which is why you can substitute your artificial sweetener with it. Because a diet high in added sugar can result in weight gain.
Beetroot is rich in fiber, which makes it one of the best weight loss foods. Talking about beet juice, some experts say that it is better as your body can absorb nutrients better from the juice (juicing in general, I mean).