Chances are beets only come up on the menu every once in a while at salads, fancy parties, and Thanksgiving dinner. Quite frankly, that is a travesty. After all, beets are one vegetable that is flying under the radar. Often they are passed up for other more well-known vegetable options like cucumber, carrots, or bell peppers. However, they have significant nutritional offerings that can help you stay healthy and happy, and can prevent serious illnesses and conditions. If you’ve never tried beets or curious about all of their benefits, read on to learn more, and pick up a few recipes.
10. General Nutrition
Beets contain a wealth of vitamins and minerals that benefit the body. Beet, or perhaps more accurately, beetroot, contains impressive levels of B Vitamins, most notably Folate. However, it features other nutritional offerings as well, including dietary fiber, potassium, manganese, and Vitamin C. Like most vegetables, beets also happen to be very low in terms of salts and fats, so there is little risk of serious harm by overindulging in them. On the other hand, all of these various nutrients can protect your body and improve your health, doing everything from enhancing your development to safeguarding your body from infection.
9. Blood Pressure
There is a substantial base of research that indicates the power of beets to lower blood pressure. Beets provide this benefit in two ways: on the one hand, they provide potassium, which is generally good for heart health and counteracts the adverse effects of sodium, which can cause damage to the structures of the circulatory system. However, there is also evidence that beets can influence the levels of nitrous oxide in vivo, which also contributes to heart health. The increase of nitrous oxide results in lower blood pressure levels and paves the way for a number of other potential treatments.
8. Blood Vessel Health
It should come as no surprise that just as beets provide benefits for heart health, they also contribute to overall cardiovascular wellness. This is due in part to the potassium to sodium ration of beets. Sodium hurts cardiovascular health by causing the blood vessels and arteries to grow more rigid, narrow, and generally brittle. This leads to increased blood pressure because the heart must work harder under such conditions. Potassium, on the other hand, makes blood vessels much more flexible and stretchy. Likewise, the increase of nitrous oxide also plays a part in improving endothelial(lining of the blood vessels) function.
Beets also contain betaine, which can help fight inflammation. This means that beets can provide relief for pain associated with inflammation and infections. While inflammation isn’t an illness itself, it is a component of many diseases, given that it is a part of the body’s immune response. While it helps to hinder the infection, inflammation can cause pain, swelling, and redness in the affected area. Additionally, the value of beets as an anti-inflammatory food is even more critical because chronic inflammation can lead to serious health issues, including diabetes and heart disease, which, as mentioned, beets can also fight directly.
The betaine presence within beets also helps to protect the body from cancerous activity. Like most antioxidants, betaine helps prevent the damage caused not only by oxidation but also free radicals. Left unchecked, such elements would cause considerable damage to cells, leading them to malfunction. However, research has found that certain beetroot extracts have been shown to interfere with the development of tumors because of their cytotoxic effects. At the very least, beets could play a role in reducing the damage caused by other cancer treatment options, which would ultimately lead to a better quality of life for cancer patients.Related: 8 Fruits With Anti-Cancer Benefits
5. Anti Aging
All of the antioxidant chemicals found in beets have another effect as well in that they prevent damage brought on by oxidation. Numerous studies have backed up the various benefits that beets provide in this regard. Specifically, beets play a role in helping slow down the wear and tear of cells due to various sources, basically delaying the onset of signs of aging, such as wrinkled or spotted skin, or gray hair. Put simply, regular servings of beets can keep you looking younger- and because of all of the other health-boosting benefits brought on by beets, you truly are.
4. Lowering Cholesterol
In a world of fats and salts and sugars, beets are a blessing in that they do not contain much of these, and therefore do not contribute to an increase of (bad) cholesterol. Beets may have the opposite effect. Thanks in part to the fiber content, beets can effectively contribute to a reduction of bad cholesterol, LDL cholesterol. There is also some research to suggest that beets may also contribute to an increase in HDL cholesterol, which is the good kind. Even if they don’t, the LDL decrease still contributes to heart health like beets’ other benefits.Related: Lower Bad Cholesterol and High Blood Pressure with this Concoction
3. Better Exercise
You might guess it given their nutritional boons: beets can help you put in a better workout performance. It’s not about their calorie count; it has to do with their nitrous oxide stimulation. While nitrous oxide can be dangerous in certain forms, when it comes naturally from plant sources, it can be quite beneficial. When it comes to exercise, beetroot can stimulate long-term aerobic exertions. This is because it combats hypoxia at the source, making sure all of the body’s tissues get the oxygen they need to function properly. What does this mean? Harder, longer, and better workouts.
2. Liver Health
The heart is not the only organ that stands to benefit from beets. After all, beets can help detoxify the liver. The effects of beets are still being explored. According to research, because of the various beneficial properties provided by compounds like betalains found in beets, they may prove helpful for the liver, particularly when it comes to combatting inflammation and certain types of cancer, both of which can cause severe complications for the liver. In addition to fighting liver disease, beets can make the liver’s job of filtering even easier by thinning out the bile that passes through it.
There are many ways to incorporate beets into the diet. A lot of recipes call for cooking or juicing or even baking. That being said, if you prefer to adhere to a raw diet, they can also be consumed in this manner with no preparation. Additionally, the leaves of the plant have great nutritional benefit as well. You can cook them for use in soups, or add them to salads. Specifically, the leaves contain significant levels of potassium, which, as mentioned earlier, improves heart health, among other vital functions. Here are some beet recipes for you to try:Related: Fatty Liver Disease: Causes, Symptoms, Treatments & Home Remedies
1. Roasted Beets with Balsamic Glaze Recipe
- Cook time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
- Yield: Serves 6 to 8.
- 2 pounds red beets, medium-sized, scrubbed clean, green tops removed
- Olive oil
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
- Freshly ground black pepper
To start, you will need to preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Rub olive oil onto the beets and season them with a little bit of salt. Lay them in a pan lined with aluminum foil. Also, cover them up with another layer of foil. You’ll want to roast them for up to two hours, with longer times dependent on the size and age of the beets. You can check on them by poking them with a fork to test consistency. You’ll be checking for tenderness- if the fork enters easily, it’s time to take them out.
It’s best to make the balsamic glaze during the cooling process. Use a small sauté pan to mix the balsamic vinegar with sugar. Create a syrupy consistency with the mixture by heating it on high. Afterward, remove it from the heat and set aside.
Once the beets have had time to cool down, peel the skins off. You don’t want them too cool. However- they should be warm to the touch. You’ll then dice the beets into smaller pieces. Then, you can add the glaze over the top of the beets, and mix in the orange zest. Otherwise, season to taste and enjoy.Related: 7 Natural Ways to Lower Blood Pressure