Beetroot powder is one of my favorite ways to add beautiful color to homemade beauty products. But beets are amazing for reasons beyond their gorgeous color. Beetroots and beet greens are amazing powerhouses of nutrition and can help the body in multiple ways when included in a healthy diet.
Beetroots are an incredible food that has a distinct nutritional profile. They contain a little bit of everything!
Take a look at this list:
Additionally, beets contain phytonutrients like betalains. Beets are especially high in betalains which are responsible for giving beets their color and have many health benefits of their own (read on for those benefits!).
You may not believe this if youâ€™re not a beet lover, but beets are sometimes called â€śnatureâ€™s candyâ€ť because they are so naturally sweet! Beets do have a high sugar content (compared to other vegetables) but a low glycemic load so most people can eat them without problems. They also contain lots of dietary fiber which helps slow digestion of sugars.
We all know that vegetables are an important part of a healthy diet. Most vegetables contain fiber (helps digestion) and lots of vitamins and minerals that are necessary for a healthy body. But beets contain some specific nutrients that set them apart.
Inflammation is an important mechanism that the body uses to fight invaders and heal injuries. But many times inflammation doesnâ€™t go away (due to diet, lifestyle, and underlying disease) and can become chronic. Chronic inflammation and oxidative stress are implicated as the cause of many age-related diseases and cancers.
Research shows that beets can lower inflammation and oxidative stress. A 2014 study found that beetroot supplements reduced oxidative stress and inflammation in rats.
A 2016 study found that beet juice reduced inflammatory markers in people with high blood pressure. This study found that raw beet juice had better outcomes than cooked.
Lower inflammation and oxidative stress are two things that can have a huge effect on heart health. But beets also seem to have direct effects on lower the risk of heart disease. Beetroot juice lowered both systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure in a study published in the British Journal of Nutrition.
Beets also reduce LDL cholesterol in people with uncontrolled blood pressure, according to a 2017 study. However, beets didnâ€™t affect cholesterol in those who did not have uncontrolled blood pressure.
Cancer is a growing problem today, with over 38 percent of people getting a cancer diagnosis at some point in their lifetime, according to the National Cancer Institute.
Dr. Mark Hyman talks about the way we approach cancer treatment and prevention in our society in a blog article. He writes,
The problem with cancerâ€”one which almost no oncologists think aboutâ€”is not the tumor, but the garden in which the tumor grows.â€ť In other words, we have to look at the body as a whole and ask, â€śwhy is this tumor growing?â€ť The answer, he writes, is usually a combination of diet, lifestyle, thoughts, and environmental toxins.â€ť
Beets can be an amazing tool in creating a healthy â€śgarden,â€ť but beets alone canâ€™t fix a poor diet or an unhealthy lifestyle. That being said, studies are finding that beets have a beneficial effect on tumor cells. One 2013 study found that beetroot extract reduced multi-organ tumor formation in animals. Researchers in another study found that the betanin in beets is likely what causes the destruction of cancer cells, though they say more research is needed.
Beets are rich in antioxidants, specifically betanin. Betanin helps the transcription and expression of important enzymes like glutathione. Glutathione is one of the most important nutrients in the body. It helps recycle and produce antioxidants to maintain cellular health and is crucial for detoxification in the liver.
Beets are also a good source of pectin. Pectin acts as a chelator and it binds to toxins and removes them from the body.
While nitrates have gotten a bad rap (mostly because of cured meats), theyâ€™re actually a healthy and important part of the diet. Nitrates from vegetables convert into nitric oxide in the body which helps relax blood vessels and improve circulation. This includes increasing blood flow to certain parts of the brain that are necessary for cognitive function.
Beets are an amazing source of natural nitrates. Studies show that beetroot juice as part of a high nitrate diet can positively affect cognitive function in people of all ages.
Other research published in The Journal of Neuroscience suggests that Alzheimerâ€™s disease may be caused, in part, by folate deficiency. Beets are a rich source of folate. Because itâ€™s in a natural form (folate instead of folic acid) the folate in beets is more bioavailable to most people.
As mentioned earlier, beets are an amazing source of natural nitrates. These nitrates are converted to nitric oxide, which helps improve oxygen circulation. Nitrates were also found in a 2011 study to increase the efficiency of mitochondria (the powerhouse of the cells).
A 1985 study found that nitrates from beetroot juice extended the time to exhaustion in low-intensity exercise. It also reduces the amount of oxygen muscles need during exercise.
While the beetroot is responsible for many of their health benefits, beet greens are pretty amazing too. Beet greens are a good source of lutein and zeaxanthin which help improve eye health. According to research published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, lutein and zeaxanthin are the only carotenoids reported to be present in the eye lens. These carotenoids act as antioxidants to protect eye health.
Both beetroots and beet green are amazing foods that you can grow easily at home if you have a small garden space. Beets come in a variety of colors from deep purple to light golden, but they all have generally the same nutritional profile. Whether you grow your own delicious beets or get them at the farmers market or grocery store, the important thing is to eat them! Here are some ways to enjoy beets regularly.
Beets are most nutritious when raw or cooked gently (not too long). However, beets and beet greens contain a high amount of a compound called oxalates. Oxalates can contribute to kidney stones and arthritis in some susceptible people. Leaky gut and MTHFR mutations make you more likely to be sensitive to too many oxalates. But as with anything in life, moderation is key.
Bottom line, adding beets and beet greens to a healthy diet is good. Eating beets at every meal instead of a variety of vegetables is probably not good! If you have a history of arthritis or kidney stones you may want to go easy on the beets. Check with your doctor to figure out what is best for you.