Beets have been a staple in cuisines around the world for decades. Not only are they delicious and easy to add to your diet, but the health benefits of beets are well-established. Thanks to their essential vitamins, minerals, and plant compounds, adding beets to your diet can have a great impact on your health.
Low Calories and High Nutrients
Beets are low in calories but have a high content of vitamins and minerals that are essential to anyone’s diet. A 3.5 ounce serving of beets contains:
- Calories: 44
- Protein: 1.7 grams
- Fat: 0.2 grams
- Fiber: 2 grams
- Vitamin C: 6% of the RDI
- Folate: 20% of the RDI
- Vitamin B6: 3% of the RDI
- Magnesium: 6% of the RDI
- Potassium: 9% of the RDI
- Phosphorous: 4% of the RDI
- Manganese: 16% of the RDI
- Iron: 4% of the RDI
You can also find inorganic nitrates and pigments in beets that have a variety of health benefits.
Controlling Your Blood Pressure
Beets have been found to significantly lower blood pressure thanks to their high concentration of nitrates. Dietary nitrates are converted into nitric oxide, a molecule that dilates blood vessels, which lowers blood pressure. Studies have found beets are capable of lowering blood pressure up to 4 to 10 mmHg within just a few hours. Beets have a great effect on systolic blood pressure rather than diastolic blood pressure. Systolic blood pressure is the pressure when your heart contracts, while diastolic blood pressure is the pressure when your heart is relaxed. This effect is only temporary, and to experience long-term benefits, you will need regular consumption of beets. These effects are also stronger when raw beets are consumed rather than cooked beets.
Studies have found that beets can help enhance physical performance because of their high amounts of nitrates. Because nitrates are able to improve the efficiency of mitochondria, which produces energy in your cells, your physical performance is improved. By drinking beet juice daily for six days, a study found the time to exhaustion was extended by 15 to 25% during high-intensity exercise.
Chronic inflammation can lead to numerous diseases, including obesity, heart disease, liver disease, and cancer. The pigments found in beets, known as betalains, appear to possess a number of anti-inflammatory properties. While no human studies have been conducted, studies conducted on rats showed a reduction in kidney inflammation in rats that consumed beetroot juice and beetroot extract.
Improve Digestive Health
Beets are a great source of fiber, and one cup of beetroot contains 3.5 grams of fiber. Dietary fiber has been shown to have many health benefits, including improved digestive health. Fiber is able to bypass digestion and head to the colon, where it is able to feed friendly gut bacteria. This helps to improve your digestive health, keep you regular, and prevent conditions like constipation, inflammatory bowel disease, and diverticulitis. Fiber has also been linked to a risk reduction of chronic diseases like colon cancer, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.
Possible Anti-Cancer Properties
Because of their high antioxidant content and their anti-inflammatory nature, beets have led to an interest in their ability to prevent cancer. Unfortunately, current evidence is limited. Beetroot extract has been shown to reduce the division and growth of tumor cells in animals, but no studies have been conducted on humans, only isolated human cells and rats.
There are several nutritional properties found in beets that could make them good for weight loss. Beets are low in calories but high in water, and the consumption of low-calorie foods has been associated with weight loss. Their fiber also helps achieve and maintain a healthy weight while reducing appetite and promoting feelings of fullness.