That bright red root isn’t just a looker. It’s hard to beat a beet for providing certain health benefits too. There are many, but we’ll focus here on the top 5 beet benefits, and provide a few beetroot recipes that will make it easy to regularly get this super-healthy root into your diet.
Beet benefit #1 – Reduces inflammationDo you struggle with health issues like chronic pain, obesity, peripheral neuropathy, diabetes, heart disease, migraines, thyroid issues, or dental problems?
These and many other health ailments can be caused or triggered by inflammation – your body’s effort to protect itself from something it perceives as harmful. If this sounds like you, then it's time to seriously think about adding a beet boost to your diet.
Beets are packed with anti-inflammatory phytonutrients, such vulgaxanthin, betanin, and isobetanin. The phytonutrients inhibit the enzymes that notify cells to “flame up” – which is normally a healthy and protective action. However, when dealing with chronic inflammation, this "flaming up" exacerbates issues and causes pain.
Beets are also high in betaine – a key nutrient formed from choline. Choline regulates inflammation in your cardiovascular system.
Beet benefit #2 – Nature’s multivitamin/mineral supplementBeets and beet greens are loaded with life-giving minerals, including magnesium (which has lots of benefits, including Alzheimer’s prevention), potassium (which aids heart, kidneys, muscle, nerve, and digestive functions), copper, iron, and phosphorus, an essential mineral aiding cell function throughout the body – and it's good for bones and teeth, too. Beets are also a great source of Vitamins A, B, and C, as well as healthy fiber.
Beet benefit #3 – An antioxidant powerhouseThe part of beets that gives it its dark red color is beta-cyanine. Beta-cyanine is a powerful antioxidant that's important in fighting disease. This includes cancer prevention, especially colon cancers.
Beta-carotene –a powerful antioxidant phytonutrient – is also prevalent in the peel and flesh of beets. In fact, beets are on the top-10 list of beta carotene-rich foods.
Beet benefit #4 – Lowering blood pressureBeets are a prime source of phyto-nitrates. Do not confuse these plant-based nitrates with sodium nitrate, a carcinogenic chemical preservative found in many processed foods.
Phyto-nitrates are great for your health, helping your body to naturally lower and maintain a healthy blood pressure level. In your body, these healthy nitrites morph into nitric oxide – a compound that open up your vessels, which improves blood flow, lowering the pressure.
To get the full benefits of beets' phyto-nitrates, juice not just the beet, but the beet greens and even the beet root, as all three parts are rich in phyto-nitrates.
Beet benefit #5 – Boost your sports performanceThe same plant-based nitrates that lower blood pressure also give your workout a shot in the arm.
The body’s natural conversion of nitrates into nitric oxide is the key. Many athletes boost their abilities with nitric oxide supplementation – a good thing, but they are missing out on many other healthy beet benefits by getting their supply of nitrites from a supplement tablet or powder.
Beets’ nitrates and resulting nitric oxide helps your body recuperate from intense physical activity. Even during performance, the nitric oxide generation bolsters sports stamina and endurance, as shown in this England study, which showed big improvement in high-intensity training when tested on sports rowing crew athletes. This 1985 study backs up these results, testing beetroot juice during exercise, showing that beet root boosted cardiovascular health and exercise performance in its young adult test subjects.
Creative ways to get beets into your family’s diet
Yes, there is nutrition in cooked beets, but raw beetroots and beetroot juice gives you the most bang per beet, health-wise.
To make a smoothie with raw beets:Use about a fourth of a beet (if it’s a large beet – or use the whole thing if it’s small) and add it to your regular smoothie recipe. It will thicken up the smoothie, so you may need to add a bit more water than you normally would.
Juice with beetsJuicing vegetables concentrates their nutrients, which are mostly in the juiciest parts of the vegetable. If you have a juicer, try beet juice straight up – it’s sweeter than you might think! – or add it to the juice of an apple to reduce the intensity of its flavor.
A raw food twist on Borscht – a Ukrainian classic beet recipeThough borscht is traditionally made with cooked beets, it’s entirely unnecessary, especially since it’s served cold. Why not make it raw and retain the highest nutritional value and its antioxidants?
This is one of the simplest borscht recipes you’ll find -- Victoria Boutenko's Raw Borscht.
Cooked beet recipesHere are several good resources for creatively adding beets into your diet:
- Check out the Huffington Post’s 30 Beet Dishes That'll Convince You To Try A New Recipe. It’s got some winners, including Beet, Goat Cheese And Honey Tarts.
- Roasted beets from the Food Network– a side-dish recipe that keeps it simple: just beets, spices, vinegar, olive oil, and orange juice.
- From Cooking Light – try this nice Winter Salad with Roasted Beets and Citrus Reduction Dressing.