All right, we’re just going to go ahead and say it because puns are great (and so are dad jokes). Beets can’t be beat! For centuries, people have used the ruby red plant as a food coloring, medicinal plant, and all-around delicious addition to any meal. While you can find beet greens in cooking, it’s the beetroot that people are most interested in – and it didn’t just happen overnight.
In the Middle Ages, people used beets to treat digestive and blood-related illnesses, as well as ‘garlic breath’. Beet juice was also used to color wine in the mid-1800s.[1,2] So, while beets have been steadily rising in search engines, popularity and purchases, do you really know what makes them so great?
7 Reasons Why You Should Include Beets in Your Diet
Lowers Blood Pressure
In one placebo-controlled study, researchers studied the effects of beet juice on blood pressure in disease-free adults. They found that systolic blood pressure (i.e., the amount of pressure in your arteries during contraction of your heart muscle) decreased by 4 to 5 points after drinking a glass of beet juice.[3,4] Studies like this one could have huge implications for individuals with or at risk of heart disease. So, crack open that juicer and start your day off right!
Helps Purify Blood and Support Detox Organs
Glutathione is a naturally produced substance in the liver, but you can also find it in beets. In addition to improving blood flow and decreasing clotting in people with hardened arteries, glutathione works to clean the body’s blood and help your liver detoxify more effectively.
As seen in one 2015 study published in Nutrients, betalain pigments (which are present during your body’s detoxification process) were found to help prevent against liver damage in rats who were treated with beetroot juice. These results have led researchers to conduct even more in vivo (or, human) studies to explore the benefits of consuming beets.
Eating whole beetroot, thanks to its nitrate-rich content, is a great way to boost circulation and therefore energy, performance, and stamina. A study in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition found that beetroot seemed to help participants run faster.
Another study observed individuals who drank beet juice before exercising. The study, published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, found that those who had a pre-workout drink of beet juice exercised for up to 16 percent longer than those who didn’t.
Nutrient and Antioxidant-Rich, and Full of Fiber
If you eat beets regularly, their fiber content can help cleanse your digestive tract and restore healthy bowel movements. In addition to colon cleansing fiber, beets are also full of vitamin B (specifically, folate) and C, as well as potassium and manganese.
Combined, these vitamins and minerals help to boost immunity, improve muscle and nerve function, strengthen and support your bones, liver and kidney, as well as reduce the risk of birth defects.
Beets are also high in antioxidants which help fight against oxidative damage. In the same 2015 study cited above, researchers noted that the betanin found in beets most effectively inhibited oxidative stress.
Beets contain betaine, a nutrient known for protecting the body’s cells, proteins, and enzymes. Thanks to betaine’s protective properties starting at a cellular level, larger things such as organs are less likely to suffer from inflammation (and other chronic diseases).
Supports Brain Health
Beets’ positive effects on dementia and Alzheimer’s disease have been buzzing around medical circles more and more. It’s not all ‘talk’ either. In 2010, researchers published a study in Nitric Oxide: Biology and Chemistry that explored the effects of dietary nitrates on fourteen adults aged 70 and up for four days.
Although the researchers only used a small sample size, participants on a high-nitrate diet exhibited increased blood flow to the brain. What’s more is that blood flowed to the frontal lobes most widely associated brain degeneration when it comes to dementia and other neurodegenerative diseases.
This wonderful root vegetable is recognized most often for its crimson color. Not only is deep ruby red beautiful, but some scientists suggest that it may help prevent cancer. A 2013 study published in the Journal of Complementary and Integrative Medicine found that beetroot extract helped to reduce multi-organ tumor formations in different animal models.
As the body of beet and cancer research grows, researchers recognize and understand the limitations of these studies. But they are also in the midst of study the effects of beetroot extract on human breast, pancreatic, and prostate cancers.
How to Enjoy Beets and Reap Its Powerful Health Benefits
As you can see, beet juice is a popular item in many of the studies above. But from dinners to desserts, you can enjoy beets in many amazing ways.