Beets are vibrant, colorful and robust root vegetables and they are powerful supporters of your health.
Add beets to your salads, drink them in your green juice or turn them into hummus. You can do more than just roast these root vegetables, and you’re going to want to get creative with them when you discover their many health-promoting properties. Whether it’s lowering blood pressure, increasing the amount of oxygen, or providing a generous dose of antioxidants, there are plenty of reasons to include beets in your diet.
Raw beets have a high nutritional potential. They are a rich source of fiber, manganese, copper and folate. Beets even offer a surprising amount of protein while being naturally low in fat and cholesterol-free. Beets are available year-round, but are best when in season, summer, fall, and winter. Between the varieties of beets, the ways to buy and store them, and the countless methods of preparation, you will never be short of ideas. And that’s a good thing when you consider the following seven health benefits that will have you running to the grocery store or the farmers’ market.
1. Beet Juice Lowers Blood Pressure
Beets have the impressive ability to widen blood vessels and improve blood flow, which helps lower blood pressure. High blood pressure is a major risk factor for two of the leading causes of death, heart attack and stroke.
The substance responsible for the hypotensive effect of beets is nitrate, which could reduce blood pressure and significantly decrease the risk of cardiovascular events, according to a review published in the December 2018 Biomolecules. Nitrates are naturally present in many fruits and vegetables, including beets, but they are also sometimes used as food additives in meats and cheeses. While nitrates found in plant foods are considered harmless and are the main source of nitrates in the typical diet, those from food additives may be associated with certain health issues.
2. Beets are a good source of gut-friendly fiber
Dietary fiber is an important but often overlooked marker of gut and overall health. On average, Americans consume 10 to 15 grams (g) of fiber per day a fraction of the recommended amount of 21 to 38 per day. Beets support a healthy gut microbiome, the set of bacteria in your gut that help regulate inflammation, immune function, mood, cholesterol, and blood sugar. The human gastrointestinal tract is one of the most complex ecosystems, and dietary fiber can have a major impact on the diversity and richness of the gut microbiome. Increasing your fiber intake allows intestinal bacteria to increase their population in the intestine.
There are about 3.8g of fiber per cup of beets. Try fermented beets for extra probiotics and beneficial gut bacteria. Fermented foods, like pickled beets, contribute to the diversity of your gut bacteria, supporting gut health and digestion.
3. Beets May Boost Endurance and Athletic Performance
Before your next workout, you might want to replace your sports drink with beetroot juice. Nitrate supplementation via beet juice may boost resistance training performance and increase training intensity, according to a review published May 2021 in Frontiers in Nutrition. The nitrates in beet juice increase blood flow and allow more oxygen to reach your muscles, which can boost endurance and allow you to train longer. Beet juice may lead to athletic performance benefits, such as reaching distance faster and recovering in less time.
4. Thanks to nitrates, beets can also improve cognition
A diet high in nitrates may offer some protection against neurodegenerative disorders such as dementia. In a small trial, published in Nutrients in July 2019, drinking nitrate-rich beetroot juice was linked to improved cognition in young and older adults, although more rigorous studies are needed. Beets improve cognition by increasing levels of nitric oxide (the bioactive form of nitrate) in the blood as this improves the flow of oxygen to the brain. As you age, a sharp brain becomes even more important.
5. The Anti-Inflammatory Properties of Beets Can Improve Joint Health
Betalains are the pigments that give beets their bright red color. The high concentration of betalains in beets has anti-inflammatory properties, which can reduce inflammation throughout the body and relieve joint pain. Chronic inflammation is considered a silent killer, linked to conditions like heart disease, cancer and type 2 diabetes, according to Harvard Health Publishing. A review in Human Nutrition and Metabolism in September 2021 noted that beets are the main source of betalains, which are involved in the body’s inflammatory process pathways. Researchers have demonstrated the anti-inflammatory activity of betalains in people with osteoarthritis.
6. Beets May Improve Liver Disease Outcomes
Your liver is one of your most important organs, but rates of liver disease are on the rise. Although people with fatty liver disease can lead normal lives, this disease can increase the risk of liver cancer and liver failure. A healthy lifestyle, including the consumption of beets, can help. Beets contain an active compound, betaine, which may be responsible for the vegetable’s antioxidant properties and positive effects on liver markers in people with setatosis, according to a November 2019 article in Current Research in Nutrition and Food Science.
7. Antioxidants in Beets Have Cancer-Fighting Properties
The antioxidants in beets help prevent the development and growth of cancer at the cellular level. They are one of the only plant sources of antioxidant-rich betalains and anthocyanins, which protect cells from oxidative damage. Oxidative damage is caused by an imbalance between oxidants and antioxidants, according to a review published in December 2018 in Frontiers in Physiology. The resulting oxidative stress may be an underlying contributing factor to the disease.
Beets are a rich source of polyphenols, flavonoids, and the aforementioned dietary nitrates, all of which support its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and cancer-fighting abilities, according to a review published in a 2021 issue of the Journal of Cancer Prevention. A diet rich in antioxidants, like that of beets, can protect cells from oxidative stress, which may help prevent cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute.
Like our content ?
Receive our latest publications free of charge and directly in your mailbox every day