Beets, or beetroot, are the taproots of the actual beet plant. A taproot is the large main root bulb at the base of the plant, which small secondary roots or root hairs may grow off of. There are several varieties of beets. While they come in whites and yellows, red is by far the most common variety. Here’s a look at the health benefits of red beets and why this intensely red vegetable is so great.
Health Benefits of Red Beets
To start off, red beets are a good source of dietary fibre, folate, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium, and vitamin C.
One of the largest benefits of a beet-filled diet is that they’re good for improving exercise performance. When performing intense bursts (short-durations) of physical exertion with short periods of recovery between intervals, beets have been shown to help you get better results and recover faster. However, it is important to note that beetroot hasn’t shown marked performance enhancements during longer intervals of training.
It is so imperative to start eating right at a young age. The juice from beets has shown to enhance exercise performance and cardiovascular health in young adults. Introducing healthy foods from a young age is crucial for setting healthy habits later in life. We need to teach healthy living from the start.
Beets also lower blood pressure in older, overweight subjects. This is important because this target audience is at a much higher risk of a cardiovascular disease. This vegetable could be a good start to improving the health of these patients, and preventing these health concerns in others.
One can’t ignore the bold red colouring of a beet. If you’ve ever cut a beetroot you’ve probably experienced stained hands for hours to come. This brilliant red colouring comes from betanin. Betanin has antioxidant defense mechanisms, can lower blood pressure, and prevent DNA damage. This is just one of the many amazing plant compounds that make up the health benefits of red beets.
Here’s a look at some of the other amazing nutrients found in beets, and a look at how they can benefit your health.
Nitric oxide has several important health benefits including regulating blood pressure, boosting the immune system, and reducing inflammation. You can get more nitric oxide in your body by adding nitrate-rich foods to your diet.
Nitrates can enhance the production of nitric oxide in the body. Nitrates in beets (and other whole vegetables) have been shown to be very beneficial for people looking to enhance their physical performance. That being said, nitrates in meats and processed foods can be damaging to your health, and may be carcinogenic, so stick to vegetables for this nutrient.
Antioxidants are important for reducing inflammation and oxidative stress throughout the body. In other words, they are crucial for maintaining/achieving optimal health.
One study showed that the juice from red beets increased the antioxidant capacity of blood cells by as much as 69%. This isn’t just about adding antioxidants into your body, but actually increasing the amount of antioxidants your body can hold onto at any given moment. This is great news for being able to maximize the antioxidants getting through the body.
There is another important compound in beets for improving health, alpha-lipoic acid (LA). LA has many antioxidant properties, and has been used to help improve glycemic control in diabetic patients. It can improve insulin sensitivity and stabilize blood-glucose levels. While it has been found to be beneficial for both type 1 and type 2 diabetics, it appears to be most beneficial for patients with diabetic neuropathy.
Vitamin C is just one more of the important antioxidants found in beets. While beets may not be as significant of a source of vitamin C as some fruits and vegetables, it is nothing to be ignored. A single cup (136g) contains 11% of your daily value. Vitamin C is needed for the production of collagen, which in turn is used to build tissue and bone, keeping you looking and feeling younger.
Beets are a good source of folate, an important nutrient that most people are not getting enough of in their diet. It is especially important for pregnant women as it helps prevent many birth defects. It promotes healthy neural tube formation, proper birth weight, and heart and facial formation.
Magnesium is a must have mineral. It is needed for transcription of DNA and RNA. Magnesium deficiency can lead to headaches, muscle cramps, osteoporosis, high blood pressure, anxiety and depression, and many more serious health concerns.
This is an important mineral found in plants. It is needed for proper neurotransmissions, and can be used as an antioxidant should enzymatic antioxidants fail to protect you from oxidative stress. Manganese also improves mitochondrial health, reducing cell death. Furthermore, it has been shown to help lower blood-glucose levels.
Overall, beets are a great addition to most diets. Unfortunately, beets should be avoided if you’re on a FODMAP diet, as they can cause digestive problems for some people.