Four Exciting Benefits of Beets

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Should you be eating beets for better health? Let’s take a look. Beets, the sweet and earthy relative to chard, have been a part of our dietary culture since before the Greeks and Romans ruled the earth. Typically they were grown as food but when they finally moved in with the shakers and movers of western civilization, the Greeks and Romans wholeheartedly glorified the beet beyond its gastronomic practicalities. They saw them as a vegetable worth its weight in silver, believed it was an instigator and catalyst of love, and used it for its medicinal properties. Today, the beet no longer plays a prominent part in love stories and has little monetary value but is still praised for its myriad of nutrients and impressive health benefits. So impressive, in fact, that we’ve decided to list InBalance’s top four reasons for adding beets to your dietary repertoire. And in answer to our “Should you be eating beets for better health?” question . . . absolutely!

Yes to Beets, Benefits and Uses:
1)Impressive source of antioxidants and phytochemicals
Antioxidants and phytochemicals are celebrity nutrients right now, and despite seeming like a fad, they are crucial nutrients for optimal health. Antioxidants and phytochemicals are found in vitamins, A, C, E and the mineral selenium (important antioxidants). They are also found in the peel or pigment of fruits and vegetables, acting as protectors in the body from free radicals—the byproduct from burning energy we use for metabolizing our food and burning energy through exercise, and environmental factors like pollution and stress.[1] Antioxidants may be tiny but they do a huge job of supporting the integrity of our cells, immune health, and organ function, and beets are an impressive source containing both betaine and polyphenols.[2] Essentially, eating your beets and other veggies and fruits, is like having a nutritional toolkit that supports kick-butt maintenance in your body.

2)Support liver health
Research has shown that antioxidants found in beets, called polyphenols and betaine, can actually support liver health. An antioxidant-rich diet, including those found in beets, improves the liver’s ability to process and rid itself of toxins during metabolism.[3] This is great considering a healthy liver is an essential organ for metabolism and filtration.[4]

3)Nitrates and cardiovascular health
Generally we want to avoid nitrates, those used as additives in processed foods and cured meats, and this is still true. But what research has shown in respect to naturally occurring nitrates, like those found in beets, is that naturally occurring dietary nitrates support cardiovascular health.[5] More specifically, juiced or in a smoothie, these nitrates help relax blood cells in the soft muscle tissue of your arteries and inhibit and slow the collection of damaging deposit build-up and inflammatory cells.[6] This is quite the feat for a beet, and a great reason to add them into your diet.

4)Lowering blood pressure
Another benefit from dietary nitrates found in beets, especially when juiced or in a smoothie, relates to the fact that nitrates become nitric oxide in the body and turn into potent vasodilators. [7] This is the reaction, mentioned above, that causes blood cells to relax in the soft muscle tissue of your arteries. Not only does this reaction support healthy arteries, but this reaction also helps govern systemic blood pressure in the body.[8] In fact, studies have shown a drastic improvement in systolic and diastolic blood pressure levels 3 hours after ingesting 0.5 liters of beet juice.[9][SW1]

All in all there are great reasons to roast, chop, slice, blend, spiral or sip beets. And, as a readily available winter seasonal vegetable, beets are a great, cost-effective way to get nutrients from real food to support real health and real bodies. Want some great ideas as to how to tastily incorporate beets in your diet? Checkout out our recipes on the In Balance LM facebook page or at our In Balance LM website, http://www.inbalancelm.com

References:
Harvard School of Public Health. (2014) Antioxidants: Beyond the Hype. Accessed on 26/01/14 from: http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/antioxidants/
Serracino F, Habib NA, Mathie RT. (2001) Hepatic ischemia-reperfusion injury. NCBI: PubMed.gov. Accessed on 27/01/14 from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11425059
Vali L., Stefanovits-Banyai E., Szentmihalyi, K., Febel H., Sardi E., Lugasi A., Kocsis I., Blazovics A. (2007) Liver-protecting effects of the table beet during ischemiareperfusion. NCBI: PubMed.gov. Accessed on 27/01/14 from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17234508
Stuart, C. (2004) Betaine in human nutrition. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Accessed 28/01/2014 from: http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/80/3/539.short
Coleman, E. (February 2012) “Reap the Benefits of Beetroot Juice – Evidence suggests it Improves Heart Health and Athletic Performance.” Today’s Dietitian, Vol. , No. 2, P. 48. Accessed 27/01/2014 from: http://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/020612p48.shtml
Coleman, E. (February 2012) “Reap the Benefits of Beetroot Juice – Evidence suggests it Improves Heart Health and Athletic Performance.” Today’s Dietitian, Vol. , No. 2, P. 48. Accessed 27/01/2014 from: http://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/020612p48.shtml
Coleman, E. (February 2012) “Reap the Benefits of Beetroot Juice – Evidence suggests it Improves Heart Health and Athletic Performance.” Today’s Dietitian, Vol. , No. 2, P. 48. Accessed 27/01/2014 from: http://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/020612p48.shtml
Coleman, E. (February 2012) “Reap the Benefits of Beetroot Juice – Evidence suggests it Improves Heart Health and Athletic Performance.” Today’s Dietitian, Vol. , No. 2, P. 48. Accessed 27/01/2014 from: http://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/020612p48.shtml
Coleman, E. (February 2012) “Reap the Benefits of Beetroot Juice – Evidence suggests it Improves Heart Health and Athletic Performance.” Today’s Dietitian, Vol. , No. 2, P. 48. Accessed 27/01/2014 from: http://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/020612p48.shtml

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