The food we commonly refer to as the “beet” is beetroot, the taproot portion of the beet plant. Enjoy the health benefits of beets by eating them raw or cooked. This fiber-rich vegetable has an earthy flavor and is packed with vitamins and minerals. A single cup of cooked beets contains folate (34% of recommended daily value), manganese (28%), potassium (15%), copper (14%), dietary fiber (14%), magnesium (10%), iron (7%), protein (6%) and Vitamin B6 (6%). That nutritional punch — with only 75 calories — gives beets an impressive nutritional profile.
Health Benefits of Beets are Hard to Beat
When it comes to supporting good health, it seems that beets truly are a food that’s hard to beat. Here are just some of the many health benefits they may provide:
1. Beets can lower blood pressure
Beets are rich in nitrates, which are the building blocks of nitric oxide, a compound that relaxes and dilates blood vessels, for better circulation and possibly lowers blood pressure.
2. Beets have been shown to improve athletic performance
Studies suggest that dietary nitrates may improve the efficiency of the mitochondria in your cells. These structures are responsible for producing energy, so there is a strong belief among athletes that beets can increase endurance and enhance overall performance.
3. Defense against artery damage and heart disease
Beets contain both the B vitamin folate and a substance called betaine. The combination of the two can help lower the level of homocysteine in the blood. Elevated levels of homocysteine are associated with a higher risk of artery damage and heart disease.
4. Boost brain health with beets
The same nitric oxide that may help lower blood pressure might also increase blood flow to the brain. This benefit is especially important as we age since studies show that our ability to generate nitric oxide decreases as we get older.
5. Chronic disease prevention
Beets contain a class of powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatory substances called betalains. These substances help your body fight a number of inflammation-related chronic diseases including obesity, heart disease, and possibly even cancer. What’s more, studies suggest that betacyanin, the pigment that gives beets their reddish-purple color, may help protect against some carcinogens.
6. Beets can help with regularity
Fiber-rich foods like beets promote regularity and can help prevent constipation, diverticulitis, and hemorrhoids. The betaine they contain can also improve digestion.
A Delicious Dish with So Much to Offer
The many health benefits of beets, make them a smart addition to any meal. They are also a very versatile food that is easy to incorporate into your diet in many ways—raw, roasted, steamed, or in juice form. The fact that they provide an array of important health benefits is just one more reason to add them to your cart the next time you are at the market.