Beets may not be the most popular vegetable in town. However, these dark red roots are packed with so many health and beauty benefits that they deserve to achieve genuine super food status. Beets have been the subject of many research studies that have shown their health benefits. From fighting free radicals to providing more stamina to athletes, there is compelling evidence as to why the beet deserves more attention.
The beautiful red-purple color of beetroot is evidence of the amazing plant pigments known as carotenoids. While it is believed that there are at least 500 of these natural compounds, only a handful have been analyzed, with beta-carotene being the best known.
Here are six healthy reasons to move this underrated vegetable to your “A” list:
- More nitrates, more oxygen flow – Beetroot juice is one of the richest dietary sources of antioxidants and naturally occurring nitrates. Nitrates are compounds that improve blood flow throughout the body—including the brain, heart and muscles. These natural nitrates increase a molecule in the blood vessels called nitric oxide, which helps open up the vessels and allows more oxygen flow.
- “Red” is the new “green”? – One of the major benefits of beet juice is that it contains a color pigment called betalain. Beet betalains provide some anticancer capacity. It has been observed that betalains provide a more varied and higher antioxidant value than most other vegetables containing beta-carotene. The presence of both higher cellulose content and red beet fiber in the diet significantly reduced the incidence of precancerous lesions in the colon.
- Cholesterol: lower the bad, raise the good! – The Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry published a study that stated beets lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides while raising HDL (good) cholesterol – all thanks to the antioxidant betanin. Folate, also found in abundance in beets, is effective in breaking down homocystein—a biomarker for heart disease.
- Prenatal development – The B vitamin folate in beets aids in tissue growth. Foods rich in folate are important when a woman is pregnant. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, or USDA, folate helps the body form red blood cells. Folates are necessary for DNA synthesis within the cells. When given during peri-conception period, folates can prevent neural tube defects in the baby.
- Better digestion and systems cleanse – Beets detoxify the digestive system, according to Mikhail Tombak, Ph.D., a Russian anti-aging researcher, and break down stones in the bladder, kidneys and liver. They also cleanse the blood and colon specifically.
- Anti-aging – High in folate, beets stimulate the production and repair of cells, which helps protect against premature aging. They fight wrinkles and skin conditions naturally and prevent age-related macular degeneration with vitamin A and carotenoids, They also preserve brain function with nitrates that improve blood flow.