Beets are easy to love. They are gorgeous in color, and offer a rich, earthy flavor that can’t be replicated. Once you get cooking, one slice down the center allows a beet’s red juices to trickle free, making you wonder if you got lost in some teenage vampire movie. But don’t let that deter you from roasting or juicing them, grating and then throwing them in salad, or even baking them into a gratin.
While at one time beets made “The 11 Best Foods You Are Not Eating List” we’re hoping that beets are making a comeback! There are just too many health benefits one should take advantage of. Read on for 10 reasons beets should make a comeback on your plate.
1. Beets contain a unique combination of antioxidants. They contain essential phytonutrients called betalains. Betalains contain a variety of antioxidants, and give beets their famous red and yellow hue. These phytonutrients, along with vitamin C and manganese, help to protect against certain cancers, cardiovascular disease, as well as age-related macular degeneration.
2. Beets can lower blood pressure. Research at the American Heart Association found that beets can lower blood pressure and reduce cardiovascular disease. An article published by Hypertension (June 30, 2010) suggests that 8.5 ounces of beet juice can greatly lower systolic blood pressure.
3. Beets keep athletes hydrated. Beet juice contains high levels of potassium, which help to balance electrolytes and regulates the body’s fluids.
4. Beets are a natural anti-inflammatory. Chronic inflammation can lead to heart disease, certain cancers, and other health problems. Fortunately, beets contain high levels of carotenoid phytonutrients and betain (a B-complex vitamin), that help to regulate inflammation. Furthermore, beets also contain choline, an important vitamin in controlling inflammation.
5. Beets detoxify the body. Betalain pigments not only give beets their rich color, but are also important contributors to the body’s detoxification process. Pigments help to neutralize unwanted toxins and make them easier to eliminate in urine. Those that live in big cities or feel they are exposed to above average toxin levels could benefit from adding beets to their diet.
6. Beets contain healthy nitrates. A study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that there is an important nitrate in beets that helps increase stamina, and reduces the need for oxygen intake. This combination makes exercise less tiring, and those who took part in the study felt more energized.
7. Beets can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. Many prefer beets that are lightly steamed, boiled, baked or roasted. But just remember that high heat reduces the antioxidant and nutrient content (don’t you hate that?). Fear not – raw beets are also exceptionally flavorful. To attain the most benefits, throw ½ beet down a juicer along with your favorite fruits and vegetables, or grate/slice thinly in a salad.
8. Beets are essential for eye health. They can improve overall eye health, and have even been studied to reduce rates of macular degeneration, which affects a growing number of seniors.
9. Beets can prevent cardiovascular disease. Amrita Ahluwalia, Professor of Vascular Biology at Queen Mary’s William Harvey Research Institute said, “Our research suggests that drinking beet juice, or consuming other nitrate-rich vegetables, might be a simple way to maintain a healthy cardiovascular system, and might also be an additional approach that one could take in the modern day battle against rising blood pressure.”
10. Beets can help those with anemia and low-blood hemoglobin. The high iron content in beet juice is easily absorbed in the blood stream, and can also increase blood count and improve circulation.
***Are you growing beets this fall? What are your favorite ways to enjoy beets?