Contributed by: Rachna Arya
What’s in a Beet?
Beets are a popular bright-red root veggie used in many cuisines across the world. Commonly known as beets, they are vibrant, colourful, and robust root vegetables — and they’re powerful supporters of your health. Beets are a nutrition powerhouse that is chock full of antioxidants, essential vitamins, minerals, and plant compounds, some of which have medicinal properties.
What’s more, they are easy to incorporate into your diet.
This article lists some incredible health benefits of beets.
Beets boast an impressive nutritional profile.
They are low in calories, yet they are packed with the goodness of plenty of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and bioactive compounds. Beets even contain a surprising amount of inorganic nitrates and pigments, both of which are plant compounds that have several health benefits.
Beets help to lower blood pressure
Studies have shown that beets have the impressive ability to widen blood vessels and enhance blood flow, thereby lowering blood pressure over a period of only a few hours. This may lead to a significantly decreased risk of cardiovascular events like heart attacks, heart failure, and stroke. These blood-pressure-lowering effects of beets are likely due to the high concentration of the substance, nitrates that dilate the blood vessels and as a result improves blood flow and helps in lowering the blood pressure.
Beets can improve athletic performance
A review of scientific research suggests that adding beetroot juice to athletes’ diets may enhance athletic performance by 1-3 per cent. This improved performance can be attributed to its high natural nitrate concentration. Nitrates appear to affect physical performance by increasing oxygen, glucose, and other nutrients for better muscle fuelling. Studies have validated that eating beets may improve sports performance and increase oxygen use by up to 20%.
Beets may help fight inflammation
Chronic inflammation is associated with the development and progression of several diseases, such as diabetes, cancer, arthritis, cardiovascular disease, obesity, liver disease, and ulcerative colitis. Beets contain pigments called betalains which give beetroot its rich red pigment. A compound is a group of powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant agents that potentially possess several anti-inflammatory properties. Along with betalains, beetroot also contains a high concentration of nitrates, which act as an anti-inflammatory compound and aid in the reduction of inflammation by removing harmful compounds from the bloodstream. The presence of betalains and nitrates complements each other and aids in the treatment of inflammatory conditions like fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis.
Beets may improve digestive health
Some anecdotal evidence suggests that beets can promote digestive health. Beets are chock full of fibre, a carbohydrate important for digestive health. They also increase the abundance of healthy gut bacteria. Working beets into your diet is a great way to prevent digestive conditions like constipation, inflammatory bowel disease, and diverticulitis.
Beets may help support brain health
Mental and cognitive functions naturally decline with age. This is due to a reduction in blood flow and oxygen supply to the brain. Studies have shown that the nitrates in beets may improve mental and cognitive function by helping to open up the blood vessels in the body and thus increase blood flow to the brain. Beets have been shown to particularly improve blood flow to the white matter of the frontal lobe of the brain, an area which controls executive function skills like focus, decision making, and attention to detail.
Beets may have some anti-cancer properties
Numerous studies have confirmed the anticancer properties of beets. The antioxidant content and anti-inflammatory nature of beets provide a holistic means to prevent cancer and manage undesired effects associated with chemotherapy. However, the current evidence is fairly limited. This can be attributed to the presence of betanin, a form of betalain, found that beetroot extract, which helps in the reduced growth of prostate and breast cancer cells.
Beets may help you lose weight
When added to a healthy diet, beets are a good addition to your weight-loss and detoxification program. Beets are an ideal food choice for anyone trying to lose weight as they are very low in calories and high in water. Despite their low-calorie content, beets contain considerable amounts of fibre which promotes a feeling of fullness. Furthermore, beets are enriched with vitamin C, nitrates, and folates that are needed to increase the metabolism rate and kick start the weight loss process.
Beets are a superfood that packs a powerful punch of nutrients that offer a wide range of unique health bonuses. With so many reasons to indulge in this vegetable, you definitely have to make it a part of your diet. Irrespective of whether you cook your beets or eat them raw, your body will reap the rewards of this superfood.
Also, it is advised to have frequent preventive health check-ups to keep an eye on overall health, especially your cholesterol levels.