Dr Group–When it comes to healthy foods, it’s hard to beat beets. The nutrition facts for beets don’t lie. They are a powerhouse of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that are great for your health—antioxidants and fiber just to name two. Beets support heart health, liver detoxification, brain health, and much more. If it’s been a while since you tried some fresh beets or energy-boosting beet juice, then it’s time to get back in the habit of enjoying the many health benefits of this colorful vegetable.
What Are Beets?
Beets come from the roots of beetroot plants (Beta vulgaris). All parts of the plant are edible, and many people enjoy young beet greens in salads. Even though most Americans automatically think of the richly colored red beet, there are countless other varieties including sugar beets, golden beets, and many others, each with a unique culinary profile.
What Vitamins & Minerals Do Beets Have?
Whatever kind of beet you choose, it will be packed full of health-promoting compounds and phytonutrients. Beets are rich in immune system boosting vitamins like vitamin C and have plenty of essential minerals like potassium, manganese, and iron. Beets are also a great source of lysine, an essential amino acid that your body can’t produce on its own. Beets support overall wellness, too. They provide a delicious serving of fiber and antioxidants with every bite.
Here is the nutritional breakdown for one cup of raw beets according to the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Nutrient Database.
The Top Health Benefits of Beets
As one of the oldest known vegetables, humans have used beets for a variety of health concerns since ancient times. While they remain a staple in some diets, beets’ health benefits are not as well known as they once were. However, modern research suggests that there are incredible uses for beets. Here are some of the most recent, verifiable ways beets can support your health.
Great Source of Antioxidants
Beets, like many other fruits and veggies, are full of antioxidants. Antioxidants help promote good health for many of your organs, including your heart, by protecting against free radical damage at a cellular level. Free radicals are at the root of dozens of health concerns, including some types of cancer. Frequently eating foods that are rich in antioxidants, like beets, will give you the antioxidants your body needs to promote sustained wellness. They can even act as anti-inflammatories to help protect against some forms of light inflammation.
Supports Cardiovascular Health
Beets contain naturally occurring nitrates. These compounds convert into nitric oxide inside your blood and can help promote cardiovascular health. Nitric oxide can widen blood vessels, which increases oxygen efficiency to the heart and other vital organs. Some of these effects are almost immediate. Drinking beet juice, for example, seems to lower blood pressure, both systolic and diastolic, within 24 hours of consumption.
Beets also contain fiber and betaine, both of which support a healthy heart. Fiber helps promote healthy cholesterol levels, while betaine can reduce homocysteine, an amino acid in the blood that has been shown to contribute to heart disease.[5,6]
Boosts Exercise & Performance
Those same nitrates that are good for your heart also benefit your endurance, stamina, and muscle health. As nitrates increase blood flow, it can help athletes improve their performance and increase their stamina, giving them longer lasting energy for competition day.[7, 8] Similarly, beets can help athletes with muscle strength and recovery, again due in part to increased blood flow and oxygen efficiency.
Encourages Brain Health
Beets promote a healthy mind and mood. While those nitrates are stimulating blood flow to your heart and lungs, your brain gets more blood, too. This can help your mind feel more focused and clear. Likewise, fresh beets contain brain-supporting compounds, including antioxidants, magnesium, vitamin C, and betaine. One animal study also found that mice experienced reduced stress and anxiety when given beetroot leaf extracts.
Promotes Strong Bones
Beets are filled with nutrients that help build strong, healthy bones. These nutrients include bone supporting minerals like copper, folate, and magnesium. Beets also contain silica, a mineral that promotes healthy levels of calcium absorption in your body.
Beets are one of the best vegetables around for supporting your body’s natural detox mechanisms. The pigment that gives beets their unique coloring, betalain, also helps expel toxins from the body. Betalains work with your body’s natural defense mechanisms to help bind and eliminate toxins.
Vitalizes Liver & Kidney Health
These natural betalain compounds also help promote liver and kidney health, which are the two primary detoxifying organs in the body. Betanins are one type of betalain compound found in beets. Betanins help create enzymes that promote detoxification and antioxidant activity inside your liver. On a side note, beet juice and beet soup are two of my favorite liver cleansing foods.
Supports Digestive Health
Beets are high in fiber and vitamin B-9. Together, these compounds help promote proper digestion. Fiber helps with healthy bowel movements and helps prevent constipation. It’s also an excellent prebiotic, which helps feed healthy probiotic bacteria in your gut. Vitamin B-9, or folate, is an essential vitamin that promotes a healthy colon and gastrointestinal health. Consuming beets is a great way to allow these two forces to work together at the same time—helping maintain a healthy metabolism and digestive system.
Beets also have betaine hydrochloride. This organic compound helps the stomach break down fat and proteins in your food, and can be a powerful digestive aid.
Adding Beets to Your Diet
While pickled or canned beets are standard, there are far more, and better, ways to add beets to your daily diet. Fresh beets can be a great addition to many drinks and salads.
For a delicious beet juice, juice the following ingredients (if you don’t have a juicer, blend them with 1 or 2 cups of water).
Beet Juice Ingredients:
- 3 Organic carrots (peeled and washed)
- 1 Organic beet (peeled and washed)
- 2 Organic red apples (washed and cut)
- 6 Organic kale leaves
- ½ Inch of ginger root
- ½ Organic lemon, peeled
While there are countless beet salad recipes out there, this goji berry wild rice salad with beets is one of my absolute favorites.
If eating or drinking beets just isn’t for you, then beet extracts and powders are becoming more and more common. Because beets are becoming increasingly popular among athletes, you can now easily find beet supplements that contain nitric oxides and other compounds derived from beets to promote endurance and physical performance.
Beet Side Effects & Precautions
While there are no serious health concerns when it comes to eating beets, they do have one unique property that could cause false alarm—the pigments that give red beets that unusual color will give your stool a reddish-purple tint. If this happens to you, don’t be alarmed. While some people mistake this red coloring for blood in their stool, it’s not. This temporary change in coloring is harmless and should go away completely after one or two bowel movements.
And the Beet Goes On
Beets are great for your health, and I always recommend adding them to your regular diet for the way they support the liver and kidneys. However, if you are looking to cleanse your liver of toxic buildup completely, beets should be part of a larger solution. Performing a regular liver cleanse does far more than beets could do on their own. Regular liver cleansingcan improve how your entire body looks and feels. As toxins get pushed out, your body can better absorb the good stuff.
One essential part of my recommended liver cleanse includes a powerful liver cleanse soup, with beets as one of the main ingredients. For this recipe and more liver cleansing tips, check out my Liver Cleanse Kit.
Have you tried beets to improve your health? Tell us about your experiences in the comments below.
- United States Department of Agriculture. “National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release.” Web. 2017.
- Ninfali, P., et al. “C-Glycosyl Flavonoids from Beta vulgaris Cicla and Betalains from Beta vulgaris rubra: Antioxidant, Anticancer and Antiinflammatory Activities-A Review.” Phytother Res. (2017): 871-884.
- Thudnatkorn, J., Rui, H. “Antioxidant Activity of Processed Table Beets (Beta vulgaris var, conditiva) and Green Beans (Phaseolus vulgaris L.)” Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. (2004): 2659-2670.
- Hobbs, D., et al. “Blood pressure-lowering effects of beetroot juice and novel beetroot-enriched bread products in normotensive male subjects.” Br J Nutr. (2012): 2066-2074.
- Brown, L., Rosner, B., Willett, W., Sacks, F. “Cholesterol-lowering effects of dietary fiber: a meta-analysis.” Am J Clin Nutr. (1999): 30-42.
- McRae, Marc P. “Betaine Supplementation Decreases Plasma Homocysteine in Healthy Adult Participants: A Meta-Analysis.” Journal of Chiropractic Medicine12.1 (2013): 20–25.
- Cermak, N., Gibala, M., Van loon, L. “Nitrate supplementation’s improvement of 10-km time-trial performance in trained cyclists.” Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. (2012): 64-71.
- Nyakayiru, J., et al. “Beetroot Juice Supplementation Improves High-Intensity Intermittent Type Exercise Performance in Trained Soccer Players.” Nutrients. (2017).
- Coggan, Andrew R., et al. “Acute Dietary Nitrate Intake Improves Muscle Contractile Function in Patients With Heart FailureCLINICAL PERSPECTIVE.” Circulation: Heart Failure, vol. 8, no. 5, (2015): 914–920.
- Presley, T., Morgan, A., Bechtold, E., et al. “Acute effect of a high nitrate diet on brain perfusion in older adults.” Nitric Oxide. (2011): 34-42.
- Sulakhiya, K., et al. “Effect of Beta vulgaris Linn. Leaves Extract on Anxiety- and Depressive-like Behavior and Oxidative Stress in Mice after Acute Restraint Stress.” Pharmacognosy Res. (2016): 1-7.
- Jugdaohsingh, R. “Silicon and Bone Health.” The journal of nutrition, health & aging 11.2 (2007): 99–110.
- Clifford, T., et al. “The Potential Benefits of Red Beetroot Supplementation in Health and Disease.” Nutrients 7.4 (2015): 2801–2822.
- Telford, J., et al. “Toxicologic studies with lambs fed sugar beets grown on municipal sludge-amended soil: lowered relative hemoglobin in red blood cells and mutagens in blood and excreta.” Am J Vet Res. (1984): 2490-2494.
- Krajka-kuźniak, V., Paluszczak, J., Szaefer, H., Baer-dubowska, W. “Betanin, a beetroot component, induces nuclear factor erythroid-2-related factor 2-mediated expression of detoxifying/antioxidant enzymes in human liver cell lines.” Br J Nutr. (2013): 2138-2149.
- Ponziani, F., et al. “Folate in gastrointestinal health and disease.” Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci. (2012): 376-385.
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