While beetroot isn’t always your first vegetable choice, it has been gaining more popularity recently as a superfood, which means people are now opting to add it to their diets. Recent studies have shown that beets and beetroot juice have a number of amazing benefits like increasing blood flow, reducing blood pressure, and even improving one’s athletic performance. Because of this, a large number of drinks and juices can now be found with beets and beetroot juice incorporated into their ingredients.
Beetroot actually comes from the same root vegetable family as sugar beets, yet they differ in their nutrition and basic genetics. While sugar beets are white in color, they also have high concentrates of sucrose, which makes them sweet. Oftentimes, they are used precisely for extracting sugar and sweetening certain processed food. Beetroot, on the other hand, is not sweet at all, and it is mostly gold or red in color.
What are the Benefits of Beetroot?
Beetroot has quite a number of dynamic benefits due to its dense nutritional content, just like what was mentioned earlier. Aside from reducing blood pressure and increasing blood flow, it also helps aid and improve digestion, works to help lower the risk of diabetes, and other wonderful advantages which are explained below.
How It Can Help With Heart Health and Blood Pressure
Back in 2015, a study was conducted that included 68 people with high blood pressure. Researchers tested the effects of drinking 250 milliliters of beetroot juice every day. The results of the test showed that drinking this amount of beetroot juice significantly lowered blood pressure.
Their results showed that because of the high levels of nitrate found in beet juice, it caused an antihypertensive effect. Therefore, they recommend consuming vegetables high in nitrates when searching for an effective yet low cost way of treating high blood pressure. Of course, it’s important to note that patients that take prescribed blood pressure medication should always continue taking it and not discontinuing it until they speak with their doctor.
Since high blood pressure is the primary risk factor when it comes to cardiovascular disease (CVD), finding ways to reduce it can help immensely. By making some dietary changes and opting to eat healthier, it can have a major impact in lessening the chances of heart failure, heart attacks, strokes, and a number of other life threatening illnesses attributed to CVD.
How It Can Help With Diabetes
Because beets are considered high in the antioxidant alpha-lipoic acid, this actually aids in lowering glucose levels and increasing insulin sensitivity. In a 2019 review of studies, researchers checked the effectiveness of alpha-lipoic acid on those with diabetic neuropathy symptoms. Researchers discovered that both oral and intravenous administration of alpha-lipoic acid supplements brought a decrease in the symptoms of patients with diabetes that are suffering from peripheral and autonomic neuropathy.Notably, most of the doses used in these multiple studies were given much higher doses than those available in just beetroot. So far, the effects of smaller dietary doses have yet to be further researched.
How It Can Help With Digestion and Regularity
Fiber is important when it comes to proper gut health and smooth digestion. A single cup or beetroot has approximately 3.81 grams of fiber, which means that eating beetroot can be very advantageous to improving one’s digestion and bowel movement regularity. Meanwhile, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) also states that just one cup of beets can provide as much as 8.81% of an individual’s required daily amount of fiber, depending on their age and gender. By simply adding beetroot to your diet, it already ups your fiber intake.
How It Can Help With Exercise and Athletic Performance
Another study has found that taking beetroot juice supplements helps improve the amount of oxygen absorbed in the muscles throughout exercise. In fact, a 2019 study showed that cyclists that took in higher doses of beetroot juice resulted in an improvement of their time during the study.
Also conducted in the same year, researchers studied 12 female volunteers that were considered recreationally active as well. However, their results showed no real improvement on the participants’ athletic performance despite taking beetroot juice supplements. The results have proven that more research is needed before confirming that beetroot has a direct benefit on athletic performance.
How It Can Help With Cancer Prevention
Again, a 2019 review of studies reported that particular compounds in beets, such as betalains, can positively disrupt the cancerous mutation of cells. This compound is known for giving beets their red and yellow pigments.
Like the other benefits above, more research is needed before health professionals can truly recommend beets to be used as a replacement for known cancer risk reduction methods. Yet adding them to your diet could have some positive and effective uses in reducing the risk of cancers. As always, it’s important to speak to your doctor before changing up your diet if you happen to have cancer, or any other medical condition for that matter.
According to the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines of the USDA, one cup of raw beets has 58.5 calories, 13 grams of carbohydrates, 9.19 grams of sugar, 3.81 grams of fiber, and 2.19 grams of protein. Check out the chart below to see what other vitamins beetroot contains. They also have smaller amounts of calcium, iron, thiamine, riboflavin and more.
Aside from the actual bottom half of the beetroot, its green, leafy tops also have substantial amounts of other dietary nitrates such as iron, vitamin A, vitamin C, folate, magnesium and potassium.
How To Incorporate It Into Your Diet
Beetroot can be eaten in a number of ways. It can be boiled, roasted, steamed, pickled, and even eaten raw. Here are a few ways to consume beets and gain the most from this vegetable’s nutritional benefits.
- Try making beetroot juice. Peel the beetroot and blend it with some fresh oranges, pineapple, apples, lemon, mint and ginger. For a smoother drink, simply strain it to give it a nicer texture. Be sure to double check which fruits you are adding to your smoothie as too many can also increase the sugar content of your drink.
- Roast some beets with olive oil and top with goat’s cheese. You can even drizzle with a bit of balsamic vinegar to add a bit of zest to the flavor.
- Add them to your salad by slicing or grating some raw beets into it. You can also add it to homemade coleslaw or pasta as well.
- Slice up raw beets, toss with lemon juice and a bit of chili powder.
Remember, when choosing beetroot at the store or market, always look for those that feel heavy for its size and don’t have any surface or outside damages. For beets that still have their tops on, the leaves should look vibrant, fresh and not wilted, especially since they can be eaten as well. When storing beats, be sure to seal them tightly in a bag and keep them in the refrigerator.
Things To Be Considered When Consuming Beetroot
When consuming beetroot juice, it can actually lead to people having red, pink or purple colored urine or stool. It may seem alarming, but it actually has a medical name which doctors refer to as “beeturia.” It’s not usually concerning.
But for those that are more prone to oxalate-type kidney stones, they need to be cautious as to how much beetroot tops they eat. Also, for those suffering from gastrointestinal issues or irritable bowel syndrome, having beetroot juice can also lead to an upset stomach.
While beetroot is a very nutritious vegetable, people still need to consider how to incorporate it into their diet to make sure that they eat it in healthy proportions to other food. Diets should always consist of a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, aside from the right proteins and carbohydrates to allow for a well-balanced diet.