11 Important Health Benefits of Beets to Help You Feel Great

Health Benefits of Beets To Help You Beat the Game of Life

Beets may taste sweet, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t healthy for you.

The list of health benefits of beets is long. They promote healthy functions throughout the body.

Like most vegetables, beets are loaded with vitamins and minerals. Plus, they are low in calories to promote weight loss. Beets are a perfect ingredient in a healthy diet.

Not to mention beets taste great. They are a unique veggie in that they are earthy, sweet, and can be cooked a ton of different ways. I love beets because they provide a needed blast of sweetness in a healthy, low refined sugar diet.

Once you learn about these health benefits of beets, you’ll want to include more beets in your healthy diet.

What Are Beets?

Beets may look kinda funky and extraterrestrial. But, they are in fact from Earth. They even come directly from the planet since their fruit grows underground (the root of the plant).

Beets, or beetroot as called outside of the U.S., are an inexpensive root vegetable that is grown throughout the world. Originally used in French cooking, it is now especially important in the cuisine of cooler climate countries like Russia, Ukraine, Germany, and throughout Eastern Europe.

The vegetable consists of a bulb that grows underground with leafy stems that grow above ground. The entire plant is edible. Beet greens are often overlooked as a delicious and healthy leafy green that is similar to chard.

The bulb can be cooked a variety of ways. It is also a popular juicing ingredient because of its ability to detoxify the liver and improve blood flow.

Are Beets a Superfood?

According to some experts, beets are considered a “superfood”. Superfoods are foods that are highly nutritional and healthy. And you will see from this list that there are many health benefits of beets.

There is no set criteria for a “superfood” according to the American Heart Association. But, for beets to even be considered a superfood by some nutrition professionals means that they are super healthy.

Types of Beets

You’re probably familiar with the common red beet. This is what comes to mind when we think of a beet. But, there are multiple other beet varieties that you will find at your grocery store and farmer’s markets. Here are a few to look out for:

  • Red Beets – The most common variety. Red beets are versatile, earthy, keep well in the refrigerator, and are the most commonly used. They’ll also stain an entire dish pink, so keep that in mind when using.
  • Golden Beets – If there is another beet variety at your grocery store, it’s probably this one. Golden beets are less sweet than red beets, but also less earthy. They also make for an easier cleanup since they don’t stain everything like red beets do.
  • Chioggia Beets – You’ll get a beautiful surprise when you slice open a chioggia beet. Their inside flesh is pink and white striped. They are also the sweetest variety and aren’t typically available at grocery stores. Hit up your farmer’s market to find these beauties.
  • White Beets – Don’t confuse these for turnips which they look very similar to. They are less sweet than the other types of beets and not as widely available.
healthy whole beets

Beet Nutrition

Beet Nutrition Facts

According to the USDA, 1 cup (136 grams) of raw beets (about 1 medium beet) has the following nutritional values:

  • Calories: 58.5
  • Fat .23 grams
  • Protein: 2.2 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 13 grams
  • Fiber: 3.8 grams
  • Sugar: 9.2 grams
  • Water: 119 grams

So, beets are primary made of water (87.5%). and carbs (10%).

Vitamins and Minerals in Beets

Beets are loaded with healthy vitamins and minerals. Here are a few that will keep you feeling well.

  • Vitamin C – Among other functions, vitamin C helps boost immunity and the growth of body tissue. We can’t produce vitamin C, so it’s important that we get it through our diet or supplements. Check out more benefits here.
  • Potassium – A high potassium diet helps reduces the risk of stroke, high blood pressure, and loss of muscle mass (Source: Medical News Today).
  • Manganese – An essential nutrient required for bone health and other normal body functions.
  • Folate – A B-vitamin important to blood cell, DNA, and RNA production, folate is especially beneficial during periods of growth like pregnancy or adolescence.
  • Iron – Important in many general body functions, iron may help boost energy, concentration, muscle strength, and immunity.

Other Healthy Compounds in Beets

Beets are high in two other beneficial organic compounds.

  • Nitrates – These are not the harmful sodium based nitrates in processed foods. These plant based nitrates convert into nitric oxide in your body. This helps increase blood flow, lower blood pressure, and provide many other benefits to your body.
  • Betalain – This is the pigment that gives beets their beautiful color. It is an antioxidant that may provide several benefits to your body.

Health Benefits of Beets

1. Improved Athletic Performance

Beets contain dietary nitrates. Studies have shown that these types of nitrates help improve endurance.

Studies with athletes and beets have also shown increased stamina levels and athletic performance. This study showed that beet consumption prior to exercise can increase performance and time to exertion in endurance athletes.

Peak nitrate and blood flow levels occur 2 to 3 hours have beet consumption. So, time your intake accordingly if you are looking to get a performance boost.

2. Improved Brain Health

One of the reasons that brain performance declines with age or dementia is due to decreased blood flow.

Those same nitrates that help increase athletic performance may also help increase brain performance because they help increase blood flow.

Studies like this one have shown that a nitrate rich diet resulted in increased blood flow to the brain compared to a low nitrate diet in older adults. Specifically, blood flow increased to the parts of the brain responsible for executive functions like memory, judgment and focus. So, eat some beets next time you need to be clicking on all cognitive levels.

3. Low in Calories, High in Nutrients

High nutrition and low caloric density is a winning combination when determining if food is healthy or not.

Like many other vegetables, beets are high in nutrients, but low in calories. So, eating beets will help provide your body with valuable vitamins and minerals while promoting weight loss. No “empty calories” here.

4. Help Reduce Risk of Cancer

Red beets are so colorful because of a pigment called betalain.

This antioxidant is believed to have anti-cancer properties by reducing the amount of free radicals in the body. In addition, beet extract has shown potential for use in chemotherapy.

5. Help Lower Blood Pressure

As we’ve talked about in a few other listed benefits, the nitrates in beets help increase blood flow. This increased blood flow will help lower blood pressure.

Studies like this one show that blood pressure reduces as quickly as a few hours after consuming beets. The effects only last for about 6 hours. So regular beet consumption in your diet is necessary to experience long-term benefits.

6. Reduce Inflammation in the Body

Here is another benefit of betalain. In addition to reducing risk of cancer, this pigment may defend against inflammation in the body.

Chronic diseases like obesity, heart disease, and cancer are associated with inflammation. So, reducing inflammation can have a positive effect on overall health.

Studies have also shown beets to reduce kidney inflammation.

7. Improve Digestive Health

Beets are a great source of dietary fiber.

Dietary fiber is important in digestive health. It helps keep you regular, reduces constipation, and contributes to gut health.

The fiber in beets moves past the stomach and small intestine to your colon. There it helps clean the colon which reduces your risk for colon cancer.

8. Reduce Risk of Heart Disease

High blood pressure is one of the leading risks of heart disease. And we already talked about how the nitrates in beets help lower blood pressure by increasing blood flow.

These nitrates help open up blood vessels and reduce blood pressure. Meaning a reduced risk of heart disease.

9. Promote Healthy Eyes

Carrots aren’t the only vegetables that are good for your eyes.

Beets contain similar pigments called carotenoids which have been shown to promote eye health.

10. Promote a Healthy Liver

The pigment in beets, betalain, not only has antioxidant and properties, but it also has detoxification properties.

Studies have shown betalain to prevent oxidative damage in the body. It also has been shown to reduce the accumulation of fat and damage to the liver. This helps maintain overall liver health.

11. Provide a Boost to Immune System

Beets are rich in vitamin C which is known to help boost immunity.

Vitamin C is an antioxidant that helps grow, repair, and protect cells. In addition, it helps the absorption of iron – another nutrient that improves immunity.

healthy beets chopped

Potential Downsides of Beets

May Contribute to Kidney Stones

Beet leaves and roots are high in oxalates (Source: Healthline). Oxalates may reduce the absorption of some nutrients, including calcium. This may contribute to kidney stone formation if you are prone to them.

May Be Difficult to Digest

Beets contain FODMAPs. These are a carbohydrate that some people have problems digesting. Consuming these could cause an update stomach if you have digestive issues like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Generally, most individuals handle beets just fine.

Bowel Staining

Beets will stain your urine and bowel movements if you consume the red variety. This is harmless from a health standpoint. I’ll leave it up to you if you consider it a downside or not.

You can read more about the phenomenon here, but expect purple or red tint in the toilet a day or two after consuming.

It’s Time to Drop the Beet

My favorite thing about beets?

Sure, there are many health benefits of beets.

But, it’s that they taste delicious. If they didn’t taste great, then this article would’ve been worthless. Because who would actually want to eat them otherwise?

Beets are also really versatile. You can cook them a ton of different ways. To get started using beets in your every day healthy cooking, check out this beets 101 article. It contains everything you need to know to buy, store, cook, and use beets.

Check Out These Simple Beet Recipes

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