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The Health Benefits of Beets: Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

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Beetroots, commonly known as beets, are a popular root vegetable used in many cuisines around the world. Beets are packed with essential vitamins, minerals and plant compounds, some of which have medicinal properties. What’s more, they are delicious and easy to add to your diet. This article lists the health benefits of beets, all supported by science.

Health Benefits of Beets

Beets fight cancer

Benefits of Beets- Beets fight cancer
Benefits of Beets- Beets fight cancer

Beets contain high levels of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agents that studies show may help reduce the risk of some cancers. They get their striking red colour from betacyanin, a plant pigment that some preliminary research indicates might help defend cells against harmful carcinogens. Also, high levels of a unique fibre found in beets may be linked to a lower colon cancer risk.

Improve Endurance

A research analysis found that those who drank beet juice prior to exercise were able to exercise longer, showing increased cardiorespiratory endurance. This is because of how the nitrates in beets turn into nitric acid, a process that may reduce the oxygen cost of low-intensity exercise as well as enhance tolerance to high-intensity exercise.

Reduce Blood Pressure

Benefits of Beets- Reduce Blood Pressure
Benefits of Beets- Reduce Blood Pressure

Beetroot juice has also been shown to help lower blood pressure in people with hypertension. Again, it is the nitrates in beets that seem to be responsible for this beneficial effect.

Improve Cognitive Function

A study of older adults concluded that a diet high in nitrates may also help improve blood flow to the brain, which boosts cognitive health and functioning.5 Another study of people with type 2 diabetes, published in 2014, showed an increase in reaction time (an indicator of cognitive performance) in people who consumed beet juice.

Boost Your Immune System

Benefits of Beets- Boost Your Immune System
Benefits of Beets- Boost Your Immune System

Beets are high in fiber and promote the growth of good bacteria in your gut. Having plenty of healthy bacteria in your digestive system helps fight disease and boost your immune system. Fiber also improves digestion and reduces the risk of constipation.

May Help Support Brain Health

Mental and cognitive function naturally decline with age.
For some, this decline is significant and may result in conditions like dementia.
A reduction in blood flow and oxygen supply to the brain may contribute to this decline.

Interestingly, the nitrates in beets may improve mental and cognitive function by promoting the dilation of blood vessels and thus increasing blood flow to the brain.
Beets have been shown to particularly improve blood flow to the frontal lobe of the brain, an area associated with higher-level thinking, such as decision making and working memory.
Furthermore, one study in type 2 diabetics looked at the effect of beets on simple reaction time, which is a measure of cognitive function.
Simple reaction time during a computer-based cognitive function test was 4% faster in those who consumed 8.5 ounces (250 ml) of beetroot juice daily for two weeks, compared to the placebo.
However, whether beets could be used in a clinical setting to improve brain function and reduce the risk of dementia remains to be seen.

Beets boost eye health

Benefits of Beets- Beets boost eye health
Beetroot juice in a glass and fresh organics beetroot on rustic wooden table for refreshing drinks concept.

Beet greens are a good source of lutein, an antioxidant that helps protect the eyes from age-related macular degeneration and cataracts. They also contain a wide variety of phytochemicals that may help improve the health of your eyes and nerve tissues.

Adverse Effects

The pigment in beets can leak into your bowels after eating them. If you are otherwise feeling healthy and notice a red tint in your urine or stool after consuming beets, you shouldn’t worry. If you feel sick or the coloring does not change, contact your physician immediately, as changes in the color of stool can be an indicator of an internal issue.

Beets contain oxalic acid, which when combined with calcium and/or vitamin C can form oxalates. Excessive amounts of oxalates in the body can lead to urinary tract infections, kidney stones, and even kidney failure. If you have kidney disease or are on a low-oxalate diet for another reason, your doctor may recommend limiting your consumption of beets (especially their greens).

 

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