Sure, they’re delicious pickled, pureed into soups, and sliced over salads, but what about beet health benefits? Did you know beets also pack a powerhouse of nutrients for brain and body performance? Athletes swear by the root vegetable’s ability to increase blood flow, enhance tolerance of intense exercise and sharpen their brains’ cognitive function. So, what is the almighty beet’s healthy secret? Turns out there are a few.
For starters, beets are outrageously high in dietary nitrates (the good kind, not the bad, added type), which the body converts to nitric oxide, a compound that relaxes blood vessels significantly enough to let oxygen-rich blood travel freely throughout the body. Supplementing with dietary nitrates via beets also supports tolerance to submaximal (i.e. very difficult or high-intensity) exercise, which means those who consume beets can work harder, longer.
But those nitrates also boost brain function. One study from 2010 found that those who consumed a diet high in dietary nitrates – including beet juice – enjoyed increased blood flow to the brain’s frontal lobe, which controls executive function skills like focus, organization, and attention to detail.
Beets contain the paint alkaloid called betaine, an amino acid that improves liver function, thereby aiding detoxification. Research on people with diabetes shows that the ingestion of betaine can slightly decrease their cholesterol, and can even reduce their liver’s overall size. Another study shows that betaine can increase the concentration of hydrochloric acid in the stomach, which breaks food down and facilitates the body’s use of nutrients. And, in tandem with the B-vitamin folate – also present in beets – betaine can lower blood levels of homocysteine, which increases the risk of artery damage and heart disease.
Love the vivid hue of beets? Betalains are a class of red and yellow pigments natural to beets, but they contribute much more than color. Like betaine, the betalains in beets aid in the body’s detoxification, reducing oxidative stress and inflammation. Several studies have linked betalains to high antioxidant and anti-inflammatory capabilities that help prevent liver disease, arthritis and even cancer.
In general, the darker a vegetable’s color, the higher its fiber content. One cup of beets delivers about 4 grams of dietary fiber, which aids in digestion, can cut LDL cholesterol (aka “bad” cholesterol), and contributes to satiety.
How’s that for beet health benefits?
Looking to add more beets to your life? Below is an easy smoothie recipe that will help you take advantage of the beet health benefits mentioned above. With its bright magenta color and earthy, sweet flavor, this simple smoothie provides 67 percent of your daily Vitamin C intake and one-third of your daily fiber. Plus, it makes use of all edible portions of the plant (root + greens) which supports our Root to Shoot organic farming philosophy. Bottoms up!
Simple & Nutritional Beet Health Smoothie
- 1 apple, cored
- 1 red beet, raw, washed and peeled
- 1 handful of beet greens, de-stemmed
- 1 handful frozen berries of your choice
- 1/4 cup frozen pineapple
- 1/2 orange, peeled
- 1/2 cup ice
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 tablespoon flaxseeds
Blitz all ingredients together in a blender. If smoothie is too thick, add water and blend once more. Serve & enjoy!
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