From Cancer Prevention to Lower Blood Pressure, 13 Benefits of Beet
Beets come from the same plant family as Swiss chard - Amaranthaceae-Chenopodiaceae. The wild beet, the ancestor of the beet we know today, is thought to have originated in prehistoric times in North Africa and grew wild along Asian and European seashores. Today, the leading commercial producers of beets include the United states, the Russian Federation, France, Poland and Germany.
Beets are a unique source of phytonutrients called betalains. Betanin and vulgaxanthin are the two best studied of the betalains, and both have been shown to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and detoxification benefits. Head to toe, beets can be a healthful addition to your diet.
Researchers with Wake Forest University found that beet juice can help increase blood flow to the brain due to its high concentration of nitrates. An MRI revealed that blood flow is specifically increased to regions of the brain that have a greater potential for deterioration linked to dementia and other cognitive problems.
Improve your Mood
Betaine in beets is the same substance used in certain treatments for depression. Beets also contain tryptophan, which relaxes the mind and creates a sense of well-being.
Lowers Blood Pressure
There have been MANY studies about the positive effect eating beets has for blood pressure. The benefits are again related to nitrate, which is converted into nitric oxide, which helps improve blood flow by relaxing the blood vessels.
Detoxifies the Body
The betalin pigments in beets support activity in our body’s detoxification process. The nutrients can help neutralize toxins and makes them sufficiently water-soluble for excretion in the urine. Betaine may also stimulate the function of the liver cells while beet fiber increases production of detoxifying enzymes in the liver.
Provide Fat-Free Energy
Beets are high in slow-release carbs which can provide long-term energy. However, they are low in calories – at 58 calories per cup of vegetable. As are most vegetables and fruits, beets are fat free.
Betanin pigments from beets have been shown to lessen tumor cell growth, particularly those of the colon, stomach, lung, breast, prostate and testicular tissue.
Beet greens are a good source of lutein and zeaxathin, two carotenoid phyotnutrients that play an important role in eye health, especially in preventing macular degeneration.
Effective for wound healing
Hippocrates (the father of medicine) first advocated the use of beet leaves for binding wounds. Today, we know that the betalain within beets is a powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and fungicidal nutrient. There may also be skin and hair benefits, especially in the eliminate of inflammation conditions such as acne.
Prevent Birth Defects
Pregnant women should ensure adequate daily intake of folic acid to prevent birth defects such as spina bifida. The March of Dimes recommends that women include at least 400 micrograms a day – a serving of beets provides 27% of the RDA!
Boost Athletic Performance
Betaine is an important nutrient for the production of the amino acid carnitine which is essential for energy production and fat metabolism. The nitrates that improve blood flow to the brain and heart also improve oxygen delivery to the muscles for improving athletic endurance.
Beets contain many vitamins and minerals, particularly vitamin C. One cup of raw vegetable provides 11.1% of the Daily Value.
Prevents Constipation and Improves Digestion
Beets contain 15.2% of the daily value of fiber. We should all get at least 25 grams per day for digestive health. Fiber can also help to lower cholesterol.
One of the first uses of beets was by the ancient Romans who used them medicinally as an aphrodisiac. Beets contain high amounts of boron, which is directly related to the production of human sex hormones.
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