When was the last time you had a serving of beets? If you are like me, it has been a while. Yet, beets are one of the most nutritious vegetables around. Therefore, it is vital to know the value of beets.
What are Beets?
Beetroot (Beta vulgaris) is a root vegetable known as the table beet, garden beet, red beet, or plain beet.
Full of vital nutrients, beetroots are an excellent source of folate (vitamin B9), manganese, fiber, iron, potassium, and vitamin C.
Beetroots, as well as beetroot juice, have been linked with abundant health benefits, including lower blood pressure, improved blood flow, and improved exercise function. A lot of these beneficial results are due to their high content of inorganic nitrates.
Beetroots can be consumed raw but are more frequently cooked or pickled. Their leaves, known as beet greens, may also be eaten.
There are various forms of beetroot, several of which are notable by their color: dark purple, pink, white, or yellow.
What is the Nutritional Value of Beets?
Beets primarily consist of water (87%), fiber (2–3%), and carbs (8%).
One cup (136 grams) of boiled beetroot contains fewer than 60 calories, while 3/4 cup (100 grams) of raw beets boasts the following nutrients according to the USDA:
- Calories: 43
- Carbs: 9.6 grams
- Fat: 0.2 grams
- Fiber: 2.8 grams
- Protein: 1.6 grams
- Sugar: 6.8 grams
- Water: 88%
Cook or uncooked beetroot yields about 8–10% carbs.
Simple sugars — such as glucose and fructose — make up 70% and 80% of the carbs in raw and cooked beetroots, respectively.
Beetroots are additionally a resource of fructans — short-chain carbs classified as FODMAPs. Some individuals are unable to digest FODMAPs, producing disagreeable digestive symptoms.
Beetroots have a glycemic index (GI) score of 61, which is measured as medium. The GI is a gauge of how quickly blood sugar levels rise after consuming a meal.
Alternatively, the glycemic drain of beetroots is only 5, which is very low.
This low number indicates that beetroots should not have a significant consequence on blood sugar levels in view of the fact that the total amount of carbs in each serving is minimal.
Beetroots have substantial quantities of fiber, yielding approximately 2–3 grams in each 3/4-cup (100-gram) raw serving.
Dietary fiber is essential as part of a healthy diet and is connected to a reduced risk of a variety of diseases.
Vitamins and Minerals
Beetroots are an excellent resource for many crucial vitamins and minerals such as:
- Vitamin C. This well-known vitamin is an antioxidant
that is central to immune function and skin health.
- Folate (vitamin B9). One of the B vitamins, folate, is vital for average tissue growth and cell function. It is indispensable for pregnant women.
- Manganese. An essential trace element, manganese, is originated in elevated amounts in whole grains, vegetables, legumes, and fruits.
- Potassium. A diet regime high in potassium can reduce blood pressure levels and positively affect heart health.
- Iron. A crucial mineral, iron, has many vital functions in the body. It is required for the transport of oxygen in red blood cells.
What are the Health Benefits of Beets?
Now that we have seen the nutritional value of beets, what are the benefits to health? There are many health benefits of eating beets that are impressive and supported by science. Some of them are as follows:
Assists with controlling blood pressure – Heart disease, consisting of heart attacks, stroke, and heart failure, are one of the leading causes of death worldwide. Elevated blood pressure is one of the primary risk factors for the progress of these conditions.
Studies have shown that beets can considerably reduce blood pressure by up to 4–10 mmHg after a period of only a few hours.
The result tends to be greater for systolic blood pressure, which is when the heart contracts, than diastolic blood pressure, or pressure when the heart is relaxed. The effect may also be more substantial for raw beets than cooked beets.
These blood-pressure-lowering results are most likely due to the high concentration of nitrates in beets. In the body, dietary nitrates convert to nitric oxide, which is a molecule that dilates blood vessels, producing a blood pressure drop.
It is important to note that blood nitrate levels continue to be elevated for about six (6) hours after consuming a dietary nitrate. Therefore, beets only temporarily affect blood pressure, and regular consumption is required to experience long-term reductions in blood pressure (reference).
Can enhance athletic performance – Several reviews have recommended that dietary nitrates may improve athletic performance. Because of this reason, beets are frequently consumed by athletes.
Nitrates seem to have an effect on physical performance by improving the efficiency of mitochondria, which are responsible for producing energy in the cells.
Two (2) studies included seven and eight men who consumed 17 ounces (500 ml) of beet juice every day for six days extended time to exhaustion during high-intensity exercise by 15–25%, which is a 1–2% improvement in overall improved performance.
Consuming beets may additionally improve cycling and athletic performance and increase oxygen use by up to 20%.
One(1) small study of nine (9) competitive cyclists observed the result of 17 ounces (500 ml) of beetroot juice on cycling time trial performance over 2.5 and 10 miles (4 and 16.1 km). The result was, drinking beetroot juice enhanced performance by 2.8% over the 2.5-mile (4-km) time trial and 2.7% over the 10-mile (16.1-km) trial.
It is significant to note that blood nitrate levels max out within 2–3 hours. Therefore, it is best to consume beets 2–3 hours before training or competing to maximize their potential.
May Help Fight Inflammation – Chronic inflammation is connected with several diseases, for example, cancer, heart disease, obesity, and liver disease (reference).
Beets have pigments called betalains, which may potentially possess several anti-inflammatory properties (reference). Though, most of the research in this area has been conducted on rats. Further, beetroot juice and beetroot extract have been shown to reduce kidney inflammation in rats that were injected with toxic chemicals that are known to induce serious injury.
One study in individuals with osteoarthritis demonstrated that betalain capsules produced with beetroot extract decreased pain and discomfort linked with the condition.
While these studies propose that beets have an anti-inflammatory effect, more human studies are required to verify whether beets can be used to reduce inflammation.
Can advance digestive health – Dietary fiber is an essential element of a healthy diet. It has been connected to various health benefits, including
enhanced digestion. Beetroot has a substantial quantity of fiber. One (1) cup of beetroot contains 3.4 grams of fiber, making beets a good quality fiber resource.
Fiber evades digestion and travels directly to the colon, where it either nourishes the friendly gut bacteria or adds bulk to stool. This action can encourage digestive health, keep the body regular and avert digestive conditions such as constipation, inflammatory bowel disease, and diverticulitis.
In addition, fiber has been connected to a narrowed risk of chronic diseases, including colon cancer, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.
Can support brain health
– Mental and cognitive performance organically regress with age.
For some individuals, this decline is considerable and can result in situations like dementia. A decrease in blood flow and oxygen source to the brain can contribute to this decline.
However, the nitrates in beets can improve mental and cognitive function by advancing the expanding of blood vessels and therefore escalating blood flow to the brain.
In studies, beets have been shown to mainly improve blood flow to the brain’s frontal lobe, an area associated with higher-level thinking, such as decision-making and working memory.
In addition, one report on individuals with type 2 diabetes observed the effect of beets on simple reaction time, which is a measure of cognitive function. During a computer-based cognitive function test, simple reaction time was 4% faster in individuals who consumed 8.5 ounces (250 ml) of beetroot juice every day for two (2) weeks than the placebo.
On the other hand, whether beets can be used in a clinical setting to advance brain function and decrease the risk of dementia is yet to be seen.
Can contain some anti-cancer properties – Cancer is a severe and potentially lethal disease typified by the unrestrained growth of cells.
The antioxidant properties and anti-inflammatory nature of beets have caused interest in their capability to avoid cancer. Nevertheless, the current evidence is relatively incomplete.
Beetroot extract has been verified to diminish the division and growth of tumor cells in animals. One test-tube study using human cells established that beetroot extract, which is high in betalain pigments, decreased the growth of prostate and breast cancer cells.
It is essential to communicate that these studies were performed in isolated human cells and rats. Therefore, further research is required to determine if whether similar effects would be found in living humans.
Can aid with weight loss – Beets have some nutritional properties that can benefit weight loss.
Primarily, beets are low in calories and high in water. Therefore, increasing the intake of low-calorie foods such as fruits and vegetables has been coupled with weight loss. Beets are no exception.
In addition, in spite of their low-calorie content, beets have moderate quantities of protein and fiber. Both of these are essential nutrients for achieving and maintaining a healthy weight.
The fiber in beets can additionally help support weight loss by decreasing appetite and advance feelings of fullness, consequently reducing overall calorie intake.
Although no studies have wholly tested the effects of beets on weight, adding beets to a diet can probably aid in weight loss.
The following is not a health benefit, but it is good to know.
Beets are not only nutritious, they are also really delicious and easy to include in a diet. They can be pickled, roasted, juiced, or steamed. They can also be purchased pre-cooked and canned for convenience.
When purchasing fresh, choose beets that are heavy for their size with fresh, unwilted green leafy tops still attached.
Dietary nitrates are water-soluble; therefore, it is best not to boil beets to make the most of their nitrate content.
Beets yield some notable health benefits.
Specifically, they are low in calories and an excellent resource of nutrients, including fiber, folate, and vitamin C. They additionally contain nitrates and pigments that can help lower blood pressure and improve athletic execution.
Finally, beets are versatile, and delicious fitting well into a healthy and balanced diet.
Any questions, comments, concerns, or experience with beets can be left below.