Beets are one of those vegetables most of us probably avoided as children. Even many adults don’t eat beets often, likely because they aren’t quite sure what to do with them. But there are many ways you can enjoy beets and get all the nutrients of this root vegetable.
Because of their nutritional content, which includes vitamins, minerals and fiber, beets offer a wide range of health benefits. Here are a few of the ways beets are good for your health.
Heart health: Beets contain dietary fiber, which helps keep LDL (“bad” cholesterol) levels down, while raising levels of HDL (“good” cholesterol). High amounts of triglycerides, or LDL, increase the risk for heart-related health problems.
Stroke prevention: The beetroot is rich in potassium, which can help decrease one’s risk of stroke. The naturally occurring nitrates in beets are converted by the body into nitric oxide, which helps dilate the blood vessels, improving blood flow and reducing blood pressure.
Pregnancy health: Beets are a great food for pregnant women, as they are high in B vitamin folate, which is important to the development of the baby’s spinal column. A folate deficiency can lead to a number of birth defects affecting the baby’s neural tube.
Immunity boost: The vitamin C found in beets is a powerful antioxidant that can help rid the body of free radicals, which can cause a number of health problems and illnesses. In addition, vitamin C boosts white blood cell activity, which is the body’s defense against viral, bacterial and fungal toxins.
Eye health: Beets also contain beta-carotene, a form of vitamin A that can help prevent age-related vision problems such as cataracts and macular degeneration. Vitamin A is also an antioxidant necessary for numerous other bodily functions.
Improved energy: Not all carbs are bad for you. Beets are a natural source of complex carbohydrates, which the body breaks down and uses as energy.
Fight inflammation: Beets are a source of betaine, which helps protect cells, proteins and enzymes from environmental stress and can help fight inflammation in the body, thus helping to ward off a number of health problems and chronic diseases.
Detox support: The same pigments that help prevent inflammation support the body’s detox process, helping to break down toxins and molecules to then be excreted from the body. Eating beets helps to purify your liver and blood.
In addition to the beetroot, beet greens are also packed with nutrients such as protein, phosphorus, zinc, fiber, vitamin B6, magnesium, potassium, copper, manganese, calcium, iron and vitamins A and C. To eat beet greens, add them to raw vegetable juice or sauté them like you would other greens like spinach or kale.
Now that you know the health benefits of beets, here are a few tasty ways to try this root vegetable and its greens.
Warning: While beets are full of essential nutrients, they also contain oxalates, which can cause the crystallization of body fluids, resulting in kidney and bladder stones. If you have kidney or gallbladder problems, avoid eating beets in excess.