Beetroots (or beets), like most vegetables, are extremely nutritious, but beets have other nutrients that many vegetables don’t have. Also, beets tend to get a bad wrap sometimes. If you didn’t grow up eating beets, chances are they are not a staple food in your kitchen. Most beets have a very distinct flavor and red color, which makes them a little intimidating to a new vegetable crowd. But, beets come in other colors as well, such as yellow golden beets, pink, and even white.
There are compounds in beets that may have promising health effects throughout the whole body. These compounds are known as dietary nitrates, betalains, and betaine to name a few. They may help to reduce oxidative stress in the body, which could create a more alkaline environment and less inflammation. Many studies in the National Institute of Health show that beetroot could have convincing health benefits to reduce inflammation. (1) (2)
Beets have been a therapeutic food dating back to Roman times. Normally, it is safe and cost-effective to consume beets as a regular part of your diet. They are also low in calories and pack in a naturally sweet flavor. These vegetables are full of a diverse nutrient profile that may help improve many areas of the body.
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Health Benefits of Beetroot
This root vegetable, often red beetroot, is also known as (Beta vulgaris rubra). It is also known as a “functional” and therapeutic food for its health benefits and more (3). Read below to discover the powerful benefits beets could have on your health.
1) They May Improve Cognitive Function
Beets are well-known in Chinese medicine as a “blood-cleaning food,” because of their nutritional profile. It is conceivable that there is a potential for beets to improve cerebrovascular blood flow and improve cognitive function for that same reason. There is some evidence that Alzheimer’s disease is a microvascular disease, which could mean foods that promote more blood flow and dietary nitrates like beets may have some power. Some human research studies show that dietary nitrate may be a huge factor in reducing the chances of cognitive decline (4) (5).
Some studies were on younger adults, so research was limited. But, there was one study performed on older adults with age-related cognitive decline. It shows consuming a diet high in dietary nitrates from beets may be useful at improving brain function in older adults as well (6). Nitrates like this convert into nitric oxide in the blood and help relax blood vessels, which could help with a whole slew of health issues.
Beets can even reduce the risk of developing one of the most common brain disorders out there, dementia (7).
2) They May Promote Exercise Endurance and Stamina
It turns out that the combination of exercise and drinking beetroot juice may be a mighty power dynamic. One study shows that when two groups of older adults were tested, the results were noteworthy.
The group who consumed beetroot juice with their exercise routine showed the promise of enhanced neuroplasticity (8). While exercise is important to sustain overall health, the connection between these two factors may be worth noting and trying out. This could also be especially helpful for those who have a family history of age-related memory disorders. Beets are easy to add to most diets to reap all the benefits of exercise endurance, brain health, and much more.
You can easily add beets to smoothies, salads, desserts, and much more for a naturally sweet flavor. Is it time to start seeing how beets can help you? Throw together some sliced red beets with your favorite yogurt and milk of choice, and make yourself a tasty smoothie to get started.
3) They May Provide Better Liver Health
Liver health is essential for any area of the body. The liver is responsible for breaking down toxins, and much more. The liver needs many nutrients to keep it functioning well to maintain a healthy body. One specific nutrient that helps to keep the liver healthy is potassium. In fact, low potassium levels may even lead to liver conditions like cirrhosis (9).
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is also extremely common among Americans. That is largely attributed to a nutrient-poor diet and even exposure to toxic chemicals. Beets are high in the antioxidant called betaine, which may help to reduce toxins in the liver and even prevent issues down the road, such as fatty liver deposits. Betalains are another compound in beets that give them their rich red color. These antioxidants are powerful anti-inflammatory disease fighters.
Luckily, beets are full of potassium and many other nutrients that can help to promote better liver functioning. Beets are also an excellent source of folate, the essential B vitamin necessary for nerve functioning, liver health, and more. Along with folate and potassium, beets are also high in iron, manganese, magnesium, zinc, and even selenium. All of these nutrients are crucial for optimal hormone health as well.
4) They May Reduce Blood Pressure and Lower Heart Disease Risk
Since beets work overtime for the blood vessels throughout the body, they can also be super beneficial for those who suffer from high blood pressure. Many studies show that eating more beets may help to significantly lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure (10) (11). This is also because beets contain high amounts of dietary nitrates.
Another thing beets may come in handy for is heart health. Heart disease or ischemic heart disease is the number one cause of death worldwide, affecting millions of people annually. The nitrates in beetroot may also help to improve blood flow, benefiting the heart. This can be especially potent for those who already have heart failure, too. It may not only improve heart health but even improve cardiac function in those with previous heart problems (12).
If you have a family history of heart disease or hypertension, it may be a good idea to start adding some beets to your routine. Everyone is different in what they need nutritionally, but the powerhouse effects of beets may be worth trying out, especially if you suffer from previous issues.
5) They May Help to Balance Hormones
Since beets help to support a healthy liver, they may even play a role in hormone health and balancing crucial pathways. Beets could help to improve estrogen dominance and even regulate progesterone (13). Without proper hormone regulation, it is difficult to be well.
Because beets help to regulate hormones, they can also contribute to a healthier weight and a stronger immune system. That can also trickle down to help with less PMS, more energy, improved sleep, and much more. Hormone balancing is essential for so many areas of the body, including stress management and pain management for women to name a few. Pain management could mean lowering symptoms of PMS such as mood swings, cramps, or even helping women lessen menopausal symptoms.
Beets also contain high amounts of boron, which can help improve the health of sex hormones in both men and women. Higher amounts of boron can even help to increase fertility.
Potential Risk Factors
Overall, there are not many risk factors when it comes to beets, but there are some things to keep in mind should you start to add them to your diet. Beets are naturally high in oxalates, which means they can contribute to kidney issues such as the development of stones. If you are prone to kidney stones, it may be wise to avoid too many beets. Otherwise, eating beets in moderation can easily be a healthy part of most diets.
Eating beets will also often change the color of your urine or stool. Since beets are naturally deep red in color, this can be alarming if you are not aware of it. Blood in your urine or stool is not normal and should always be addressed by a doctor. However, if you recently ate some beets, that is likely the case.
Beets are an overall healthy part of most diets, helping to promote more circulation, blood flow, and even exercise endurance. Always consult a dietician if you are unsure how certain foods can affect your system. But, if you don’t have an existing issue that may present issues like kidney stones, adding beets is typically considered safe for most.
Adding beets to your diet could help with hormone regulation, hypertension, heart health, and even cognitive function.
These powerful root vegetables can even add to your existing exercise routine by promoting more stamina and endurance. Try adding some beets to your diet slowly to see how you feel.