The Many Health Benefits of Beets
Beets have long been the “Rodney Dangerfield” of vegetables because they are quite often overlooked, and therefore do not get the respect they deserve. However, beets are loaded with benefits, and can even be described as “the gift that just keeps on giving.”
Keep reading to learn more about this under-rated but exciting vegetable.
Beets are on the Front Line in the War on Osteoporosis
Bet you didn’t know just how great beets are for battling osteoporosis. This red vegetable is loaded with vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that play a vital role in maintaining our bone health. These include:
- Manganese. A trace mineral that helps form crucial connective tissue in cartilage and bone.
- Vitamin C. This miracle vitamin is jammed-packed with collagen, the substance that forms the matrix of bones and cartilage. Many are surprised to learn that beets deliver a load of vitamin C.
- Magnesium. This mineral teams up with calcium to form new bone cells.
- Copper. This mineral plays a key role in creating collagen, elastin and tissue proteins that are critical to the development of bones, joints, and skin.
- Folate. This B vitamin, which is also known as B9, offers protection from bone fractures by lowering and normalizing homocysteine levels. In addition to causing an increased risk of cardiovascular disease by making blood “sticky,” aggravating migraine headaches, and playing a role in macular degeneration and hearing loss, high levels of homocysteine have been shown to increase the risk of bone fractures. This alone makes regular consumption of beets and beetroot juice worth its weight in gold.
- Betaine/betalains. This powerful tag-team works to remove toxins from the liver and digestive system to promote nutrient absorption. If you don’t think your liver is vital to your health, think again. Decreased calcium and vitamin D absorption can occur due to a system loaded with toxins. As a result, bones can grow weaker from depleted bone-building nutrients. So, it’s important to maintain your good bone health by keeping your liver in tip-top shape, which will allow it to both decrease toxins and increase nutrient absorption. Beets will help you achieve this.
- Uridine. This compound nutrient boosts the levels of dopamine, the “feel-good” chemicals in your brain. Dopamine helps reduce stress and lowers cortisol, which is a primary stress hormone. High cortisol levels impair new bone cells from forming and new bone from maturing. The result? Decreased bone density and osteoporosis, which leaves you prone to fractures.
- Silica. This little-known trace mineral is what keeps your bones, cartilage, and your skin “knit” together in a strong, cohesive unit. Silica also helps you absorb calcium.
- Boron. Another often-ignored trace mineral, Boron fights arthritis by promoting joint cartilage health. Studies show that people who get adequate boron have much thicker bone densities.
But Wait…There’s More
Just like a late-night infomercial, beets and beetroot juice just keep the benefits coming. Here are even more reasons to add beets to your nutritional plan; regular consumption of beets can…
- Slash cholesterol levels. Carotenoids (which are vitamin A precursors) contained in beets keep bad LDL cholesterol from oxidizing and forming plaques.
- Lower blood pressure. This delivers a wide array of health benefits, too numerous to mention.
- Skyrocket your energy levels. Beets are loaded with nitrates, which help oxygen circulate better. More oxygen in your blood boosts your energy levels and gives you the stamina to work out longer and harder.
- Heal a hangover. If you occasionally over-indulge, beets and beetroot juice are perfect for sweeping toxins from the liver.
- Work wonders for your blood. Beets ratchet up your iron levels, which increases red blood cell development.
- Strengthen the immune system. Beets are high in carotenoids and flavonoids that are powerful antioxidants.
- Battle cancer. Betacyanin compounds that are found in beets fight breast and prostate cancers.
- Allow you to keep and regain your sex drive. Before taking dangerous pharmaceuticals for erectile dysfunction, consider this: the nitrates in beets release nitric oxide and help dilate blood vessels so blood can pump more efficiently to genitalia. Try nutrition first, and hopefully negate the need for potency drugs.
- Fight inflammation. Betaine also turns down inflammation by protecting the nearby proteins.
- Increase blood flow to skeletal muscles during exercise. Previously, studies report that dietary nitrate (NO3) increases skeletal muscle function during exercise. David Poole, from Kansas State University (Kansas, USA), and colleagues report that beetroot juice increases blood flow to the skeletal muscles during exercise by 38%, and was preferential to the less-oxygenated, fast-twitch muscles.
- Observing that: “[dietary nitrate] supplementation via [beetroot juice] improves metabolic control in fast twitch muscle,” the study authors conclude that: “These data, therefore, provide a putative mechanism for the [beetroot juice] -induced improvements in high-intensity exercise performance seen in humans.”
Try to get some beets, or beetroot juice, into your diet at least three times a week. They can boost both your bone health, immunity, and your exercise tolerance levels. Beets can make a great addition to salads.
If you can exercise more frequently, you’ll go a long way to building bones. Eating beets, or drinking beet juice, can also help you relax and fight stress.
One caveat: If you’re diabetic you’ll want to limit eating fresh beets regularly as they contain a lot of natural sugar which can wreak havoc on your blood sugar levels. Instead, try eating beet greens or buy Betaine tablets.
These are extracts of beets, dried, compressed into a tablet. They help break down bile and sludge in your liver and remove toxins. Also, they also contain all the vital nutrients of whole beets.
You can find these at your local health food store or online.
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