Beets (Beta vulgaris) belong to the Beta genus of the flowering plant family Amaranthaceae. This root vegetable belongs to the same family as spinach and chard. Beet greens generally are bitter, while the root is quite sweet. Beetroot can be eaten raw or savored, cooked, roasted, or pickled.
Beets come in different varieties, but the most common variant is the red beet. Although all parts of the vegetable are edible, the root contains more nutrients than the leaves. Nonetheless, all parts of beets are packed with nutrients that have powerful health benefits.
Beet is one of the healthiest veggies because of its low-fat content and its unique combination of essential vitamins, minerals, and powerful antioxidants. Beetroot also contains Betalains, a class of red and yellow indole-derived water-soluble pigments. This compound gives the vegetable its vibrant red or yellow color. Betalains is also a powerful antioxidant known to curb inflammation and help reduce the risk of cancer and other diseases.
Here are the nutrients you can get from a 100-gram cup of raw beets:
Other nutrients you can get from eating beetroot include:
Below, we detail the major health benefits of beetroots in a plant-based diet.
Beetroot contains nitrates, which can boost the level of nitric oxide in your blood. Nitric Oxide is also produced naturally in the body. It acts as a vasodilator, thereby, increasing blood flow and lowering your blood pressure. Studies show that drinking a glass of beet juice or eating the equivalent amount can reduce systolic blood pressure by 4-5 mmHg. This proves beetroot is an effective supplement for improving blood flow and preventing cardiovascular diseases.
Another health benefit of nitrates is their ability to keep the heart healthy by dilating blood vessels and improving blood flow to the heart muscle. Nitrates in beetroot can reduce stress on the heart. Hence reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. Beetroot also contains folate (Vitamin B6), a nutrient that is key in cell growth and function. Folate also helps repair damaged blood vessels, which can reduce the risk of stroke, and heart diseases.
In addition, beetroot is also high in potassium. Foods rich in potassium are known to keep the heart rhythm steady and reduce the risk of cardiac arrest. A 170 gram- cup of boiled beets provides 11% of the DV for potassium.
Inorganic nitrates in beetroot also help increase oxygen circulation in the body which can boost stamina during high-intensity workouts. Research shows that intake of dietary nitrate supplements, can reduce the oxygen cost of submaximal exercise and can enhance exercise tolerance and performance. In short, drinking beet juice can improve cardiorespiratory endurance and help you exercise longer.
The health benefits of beetroot extend to some chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and dementia. A couple of studies suggest that beetroot's betalain pigments can help curb the growth of cancer cells. The antioxidant alpha-lipoic acid in beetroot has also been linked with increased insulin sensitivity and reduced glucose levels in diabetics.
Also, since nitrates improve blood flow, there are speculations that a high nitrate diet increases blood flow to the frontal lobes of the brain. These areas are known to be at risk of insufficient blood supply in elderly persons.
Beetroot contains a healthy amount of fiber, which naturally promotes the digestive system's health. Consuming vegetables rich in fiber helps feed the helpful bacteria in the gut that can improve digestion and fortify the immune system.
Beetroot is also a rich source of glutamine, an amino acid that improves gut health by supporting the gut microbiome and gut mucosal wall integrity. The positive impact of this is that your body is able to absorb the nutrients it needs. Glutamine also helps ward off gut conditions such as celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, and gut inflammation.
Beetroot is a powerhouse vegetable rich in nutrients like magnesium, folate, and potassium- all of which have their individual positive contributions to your health. Beet juice contains betalains which have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antitoxic properties. Juice beets are also one of the richest natural sources of dietary nitrates, an alpha-lipoic acid that improves blood flow and promotes heart health. Currently, there are no official dosage recommendations for beetroot juice so you can drink as much as you can. However, bear in mind that one of the harmless side effects of beetroot is its ability to turn urine red.