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Why are beets so good for you

Beets may be messy to cut and sometimes have dull, dirty exteriors. I want to share with you some amazing properties of beets. And can I write an entire article about them without resorting to at least one terrible pun? And you may not have eaten them since you were a kid, and they came sliced or diced from a can. If you’ve ruled them out, perhaps you’ll even give them a second chance. (Spoiler alert: Nope.) Known scientifically as Beta vulgaris, beets are a root vegetable that slightly resemble turnips or rutabagas. Beet-o-phobia isn’t as common as negative reactions to foods like cilantro or black licorice (a Google search for “hate the taste of b-” returns beer, bone broth, baking soda, butter, and blood but not beets). And so is passion for this extraordinary, sweet root. When it comes to beets, opinions are fiercely divided. Depending on who you ask, beets taste like dirt or like candy. They typically have a rough outer skin that covers their root, which is attached to their long green stem and leaves. Early evidence shows that beet greens were used for food, while the roots had medicinal uses. However, Hippocrates recommended using the greens to heal wounds. Using beets for sugar — now done using sugar beets — began in 18th century Germany with a chemist named Andreas Margraff. If you’ve ever handled beets, you’re familiar with their ability to stain everything they touch (here’s how to clean that). This made them perfect for cosmetic uses during the 1800s. And it’s how the saying “red as a beet” originated. Today, beet pigment is a natural alternative to commercial food colorings for use in things like plant-based burgers, tomato paste, wine, candy, and jams. Best known for their deep red (almost purple) color, beets actually come in several shades. Most stores stock red beets, so you may have to go to the farmer’s market or specialty foods store to find these less common types. Conventional beets grown to eat are not genetically modified. But “sugar beets” are a specific variety that contain a high concentration of sucrose and are used specifically for refined sugar production. In fact, more than half of all sugar used in the United States comes from sugar beets. Nearly all the commercially cultivated sugar beets are “Roundup Ready.” This means they have been genetically engineered to be resistant to glyphosate, the main active ingredient in the highly controversial pesticide, Roundup. Roundup is an endocrine disruptor, an antibiotic, and a probable carcinogen. If you want to avoid GMOs and glyphosate, that’s a good reason to choose only cane sugar — or better yet, avoid added sugar altogether. But this is only an issue with beet sugar — not with “table beets” that you or I might buy in a store or grow in the backyard. Red beets get their rich pigment from phytonutrients called betalains. Now I can relax and get back to work.) Beets, along with spinach, carrots, and cabbage, are a great source of nitrates. The two most well-known betalains are vulgaxanthin and betanin, which have antioxidant, cancer-fighting, and anti-inflammatory properties. Beets have some amazing benefits for you: Did you hear about the guy who stopped eating his veggies? Nitrates are compounds that convert to nitric oxide in the body. Nitric oxide opens up your blood vessels, which helps lower blood pressure and heart rate. Don’t confuse the nitrates in beets with the nitrates and nitrites added to processed foods, like deli meat, which can form cancer-causing nitrosamines. Plants that naturally contain nitrates, like beets, also contain vitamin C and other compounds that prevent them from becoming nitrosamines. In a 2014 study published in Hypertension, researchers found that drinking one cup of beetroot juice daily for four weeks was able to reduce blood pressure. Some participants were even able to reduce some types of blood pressure medication as a result. The overall function of blood vessels was also improved. The nitrates in beets improve blood flow, which helps move oxygen throughout your body. Endurance athletes often drink beetroot juice to improve performance, which has got to be one of the healthiest and most delicious forms of doping ever invented. Better oxygen flow means that the athlete’s heart and lungs don’t have to work so hard during exercise, allowing them to perform vigorous activity for longer. Beets can also increase time-to-exhaustion in athletes. In other words, drinking beet juice before exercise seems to prevent fatigue. It’s not clear whether this is because muscle damage lessens or because repair is enhanced, but either way, the results are positive. Studies suggest that beetroot juice should be consumed within 90 minutes of starting athletics for the best outcomes. The betalain in beets can reduce inflammation, which researchers theorize is partially due to its ability to interfere with the inflammatory signaling process. The anti-inflammatory effects are so promising that some researchers believe beetroot extract supplements could rival the benefits of certain synthetic drugs. Inflammation is a factor in many health problems, including heart disease, cancer, and obesity. One study of individuals with knee pain found that a twice-daily dose of concentrated betalain reduced pain and improved joint function in people suffering from osteoarthritis in their knee joints. Is it possible the improvement was just a case of the placebo effect? Not likely, because another randomized group was given oat bran powder as a placebo, and the group who ate the oat bran powder saw much less improvement. Beets are high in fiber, which is good for your gut. The fiber in beets resists digestion in the stomach and small intestine and travels more or less intact into the colon, where your health-promoting gut bacteria ferment it and use it for food. The fiber also provides roughage that moves food through your intestines. Eating enough fiber protects against constipation, hemorrhoids, colon cancer, acid reflux, ulcers, diverticulitis, and obesity. Many cognitive diseases appear to be triggered by an interruption in nitric oxide pathways. It makes sense then that nitrates in beets can help improve brain function by increasing oxygen flow. A 2017 study published in the Journal of Gerontology demonstrated the ability of beet juice to improve blood flow to the brain during exercise. None of the participants regularly exercised, and all were on blood pressure medication. They were asked to exercise for 50 minutes, three times per week for six weeks, on a treadmill. Half drank high-nitrate beet juice concentrate before exercise, and half drank an identically flavored and colored placebo drink with almost zero nitrates. Those who consumed the beet juice drink showed improved function in the areas of the brain related to motor control, emotion, and cognition, compared to those in the placebo group. Beets are known to have antioxidant properties, which protect cells from free radicals. Most specifically, the betanin in beets has been studied for its ability to protect against cancer. Some researchers even see the potential for beet extracts for use in chemotherapy. Of course, we don’t have to wait until cancer strikes to start taking advantage of the cancer-fighting properties of beets. And we don’t need a prescription from an oncologist either! Beets are high in zinc, copper, and vitamins A and C — all nutrients known to boost immunity. Vitamin A increases antibody production and stimulates your white blood cells, which help ward off infections. Beets also contain iron, which is needed to carry oxygen throughout your body, keep your cells strong, and enhance immune defense. The use of beets as an aphrodisiac dates back to the time of the Romans, who attributed the beauty and allure of Aphrodite (goddess of love) to her insatiable appetite for beets. A European folk belief holds that if a man and woman eat of the same beetroot, they are destined to fall in love. (Kind of an ancient version of sipping a root beer float through two straws. In fact, some old recipes for making authentic root beer include beets among the roots used.) Beets are rich in the mineral boron, which plays a role in sex hormone production. The effectiveness of dietary nitrates in beets to enhance blood flow can benefit sexual health as well. And some studies suggest beet juice can be effective in treating erectile dysfunction. It’s no surprise that eating fruits and vegetables is good for your eyes — especially those with rich pigments. Beets contain lutein and zeaxanthin, which are well-studied for their positive impact on vision. Consuming these carotenoids can prevent and slow the progression of age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of adult vision loss in America. Beets have an abundance of nutrients that keep your liver healthy — such as iron, antioxidants, betaine, and vitamin B. Beetroot helps protect the liver from oxidative damage and inflammation. The betaines in beets help the liver eliminate toxins. And betalains encourage the detoxification process. Also, pectin, a water-soluble fiber in these root vegetables, helps flush out toxins from the liver. But they may have a few negatives to consider: How red your stool or urine will become depends on a few factors. For instance, how long beets are in your system, how many and what kind you ate, your stomach acidity at the time, and the presence of oxalic acid in your body from other foods. Avoid beets with wilted greens as this reduces shelf life. But if things look red the next day, don’t worry: You’re probably not bleeding to death. Cut off all but one to two inches of the leaf stems so they won’t remove moisture from the root. Scrub beets and dry them well before placing in a plastic bag with a few holes, or in a paper bag. They are both tasty and nutritious and can be used in much the same way you might use chard or spinach (which are in the same family). I’ll also cut cooked beets into chunks and freeze them for later use in smoothies. Store them in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator or in a root cellar. To store beet greens, wash, dry, and wrap them in a paper towel and store them in the fridge in a plastic bag or glass container with a lid. You can steam, boil, or pickle beets, blend them into soups and sauces or juice them with ginger and turmeric. And adding cooked beets to baked goods like chocolate cake increases moisture and adds nutrients. Some beet nutrients are heat sensitive, so you can preserve them with either gentle cooking or eating them raw. Some people also like to ferment them as a kind of pickle. Colorful Beet Salad with Carrot, Quinoa, & Spinach by Cookie and Kate This vibrant salad uses grated, raw beets mixed with quinoa and other nutritious vegetables. Note: You could leave out the oil and sweeteners in the dressing. Beet, Ginger, and Coconut Milk Soup by Epicurious Beets and ginger are a delicious pairing, especially with the creaminess of the coconut milk to make this soup. You can omit the oil or use vegetable broth in its place. Easy Beet Wonder Dip by Forks Over Knives Wow your friends with this simple and colorful dip, perfect for crackers or raw veggies. Beets are a vibrant, nutritious, and underappreciated member of the produce family. You might not expect the bright coloring, strong flavoring, and benefits of beets waiting underneath their unassuming outer skin. And despite the great divide when it comes to taste preferences, beets offer many benefits — from your heart to your brain to your overall disease-fighting immunity. So if you’re looking for a new addition to your diet, it doesn’t matter who’s wrong or right: just beet it! Beets may be messy to cut and sometimes have dull, dirty exteriors. I want to share with you some amazing properties of beets. And can I write an entire article about them without resorting to at least one terrible pun? And you may not have eaten them since you were a kid, and they came sliced or diced from a can. If you’ve ruled them out, perhaps you’ll even give them a second chance. (Spoiler alert: Nope.) Known scientifically as Beta vulgaris, beets are a root vegetable that slightly resemble turnips or rutabagas. Beet-o-phobia isn’t as common as negative reactions to foods like cilantro or black licorice (a Google search for “hate the taste of b-” returns beer, bone broth, baking soda, butter, and blood but not beets). And so is passion for this extraordinary, sweet root. When it comes to beets, opinions are fiercely divided. Depending on who you ask, beets taste like dirt or like candy. They typically have a rough outer skin that covers their root, which is attached to their long green stem and leaves. Early evidence shows that beet greens were used for food, while the roots had medicinal uses. However, Hippocrates recommended using the greens to heal wounds. Using beets for sugar — now done using sugar beets — began in 18th century Germany with a chemist named Andreas Margraff. If you’ve ever handled beets, you’re familiar with their ability to stain everything they touch (here’s how to clean that). This made them perfect for cosmetic uses during the 1800s. And it’s how the saying “red as a beet” originated. Today, beet pigment is a natural alternative to commercial food colorings for use in things like plant-based burgers, tomato paste, wine, candy, and jams. Best known for their deep red (almost purple) color, beets actually come in several shades. Most stores stock red beets, so you may have to go to the farmer’s market or specialty foods store to find these less common types. Conventional beets grown to eat are not genetically modified. But “sugar beets” are a specific variety that contain a high concentration of sucrose and are used specifically for refined sugar production. In fact, more than half of all sugar used in the United States comes from sugar beets. Nearly all the commercially cultivated sugar beets are “Roundup Ready.” This means they have been genetically engineered to be resistant to glyphosate, the main active ingredient in the highly controversial pesticide, Roundup. Roundup is an endocrine disruptor, an antibiotic, and a probable carcinogen. If you want to avoid GMOs and glyphosate, that’s a good reason to choose only cane sugar — or better yet, avoid added sugar altogether. But this is only an issue with beet sugar — not with “table beets” that you or I might buy in a store or grow in the backyard. Red beets get their rich pigment from phytonutrients called betalains. Now I can relax and get back to work.) Beets, along with spinach, carrots, and cabbage, are a great source of nitrates. The two most well-known betalains are vulgaxanthin and betanin, which have antioxidant, cancer-fighting, and anti-inflammatory properties. Beets have some amazing benefits for you: Did you hear about the guy who stopped eating his veggies? Nitrates are compounds that convert to nitric oxide in the body. Nitric oxide opens up your blood vessels, which helps lower blood pressure and heart rate. Don’t confuse the nitrates in beets with the nitrates and nitrites added to processed foods, like deli meat, which can form cancer-causing nitrosamines. Plants that naturally contain nitrates, like beets, also contain vitamin C and other compounds that prevent them from becoming nitrosamines. In a 2014 study published in Hypertension, researchers found that drinking one cup of beetroot juice daily for four weeks was able to reduce blood pressure. Some participants were even able to reduce some types of blood pressure medication as a result. The overall function of blood vessels was also improved. The nitrates in beets improve blood flow, which helps move oxygen throughout your body. Endurance athletes often drink beetroot juice to improve performance, which has got to be one of the healthiest and most delicious forms of doping ever invented. Better oxygen flow means that the athlete’s heart and lungs don’t have to work so hard during exercise, allowing them to perform vigorous activity for longer. Beets can also increase time-to-exhaustion in athletes. In other words, drinking beet juice before exercise seems to prevent fatigue. It’s not clear whether this is because muscle damage lessens or because repair is enhanced, but either way, the results are positive. Studies suggest that beetroot juice should be consumed within 90 minutes of starting athletics for the best outcomes. The betalain in beets can reduce inflammation, which researchers theorize is partially due to its ability to interfere with the inflammatory signaling process. The anti-inflammatory effects are so promising that some researchers believe beetroot extract supplements could rival the benefits of certain synthetic drugs. Inflammation is a factor in many health problems, including heart disease, cancer, and obesity. One study of individuals with knee pain found that a twice-daily dose of concentrated betalain reduced pain and improved joint function in people suffering from osteoarthritis in their knee joints. Is it possible the improvement was just a case of the placebo effect? Not likely, because another randomized group was given oat bran powder as a placebo, and the group who ate the oat bran powder saw much less improvement. Beets are high in fiber, which is good for your gut. The fiber in beets resists digestion in the stomach and small intestine and travels more or less intact into the colon, where your health-promoting gut bacteria ferment it and use it for food. The fiber also provides roughage that moves food through your intestines. Eating enough fiber protects against constipation, hemorrhoids, colon cancer, acid reflux, ulcers, diverticulitis, and obesity. Many cognitive diseases appear to be triggered by an interruption in nitric oxide pathways. It makes sense then that nitrates in beets can help improve brain function by increasing oxygen flow. A 2017 study published in the Journal of Gerontology demonstrated the ability of beet juice to improve blood flow to the brain during exercise. None of the participants regularly exercised, and all were on blood pressure medication. They were asked to exercise for 50 minutes, three times per week for six weeks, on a treadmill. Half drank high-nitrate beet juice concentrate before exercise, and half drank an identically flavored and colored placebo drink with almost zero nitrates. Those who consumed the beet juice drink showed improved function in the areas of the brain related to motor control, emotion, and cognition, compared to those in the placebo group. Beets are known to have antioxidant properties, which protect cells from free radicals. Most specifically, the betanin in beets has been studied for its ability to protect against cancer. Some researchers even see the potential for beet extracts for use in chemotherapy. Of course, we don’t have to wait until cancer strikes to start taking advantage of the cancer-fighting properties of beets. And we don’t need a prescription from an oncologist either! Beets are high in zinc, copper, and vitamins A and C — all nutrients known to boost immunity. Vitamin A increases antibody production and stimulates your white blood cells, which help ward off infections. Beets also contain iron, which is needed to carry oxygen throughout your body, keep your cells strong, and enhance immune defense. The use of beets as an aphrodisiac dates back to the time of the Romans, who attributed the beauty and allure of Aphrodite (goddess of love) to her insatiable appetite for beets. A European folk belief holds that if a man and woman eat of the same beetroot, they are destined to fall in love. (Kind of an ancient version of sipping a root beer float through two straws. In fact, some old recipes for making authentic root beer include beets among the roots used.) Beets are rich in the mineral boron, which plays a role in sex hormone production. The effectiveness of dietary nitrates in beets to enhance blood flow can benefit sexual health as well. And some studies suggest beet juice can be effective in treating erectile dysfunction. It’s no surprise that eating fruits and vegetables is good for your eyes — especially those with rich pigments. Beets contain lutein and zeaxanthin, which are well-studied for their positive impact on vision. Consuming these carotenoids can prevent and slow the progression of age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of adult vision loss in America. Beets have an abundance of nutrients that keep your liver healthy — such as iron, antioxidants, betaine, and vitamin B. Beetroot helps protect the liver from oxidative damage and inflammation. The betaines in beets help the liver eliminate toxins. And betalains encourage the detoxification process. Also, pectin, a water-soluble fiber in these root vegetables, helps flush out toxins from the liver. But they may have a few negatives to consider: How red your stool or urine will become depends on a few factors. For instance, how long beets are in your system, how many and what kind you ate, your stomach acidity at the time, and the presence of oxalic acid in your body from other foods. Avoid beets with wilted greens as this reduces shelf life. But if things look red the next day, don’t worry: You’re probably not bleeding to death. Cut off all but one to two inches of the leaf stems so they won’t remove moisture from the root. Scrub beets and dry them well before placing in a plastic bag with a few holes, or in a paper bag. They are both tasty and nutritious and can be used in much the same way you might use chard or spinach (which are in the same family). I’ll also cut cooked beets into chunks and freeze them for later use in smoothies. Store them in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator or in a root cellar. To store beet greens, wash, dry, and wrap them in a paper towel and store them in the fridge in a plastic bag or glass container with a lid. You can steam, boil, or pickle beets, blend them into soups and sauces or juice them with ginger and turmeric. And adding cooked beets to baked goods like chocolate cake increases moisture and adds nutrients. Some beet nutrients are heat sensitive, so you can preserve them with either gentle cooking or eating them raw. Some people also like to ferment them as a kind of pickle. Colorful Beet Salad with Carrot, Quinoa, & Spinach by Cookie and Kate This vibrant salad uses grated, raw beets mixed with quinoa and other nutritious vegetables. Note: You could leave out the oil and sweeteners in the dressing. Beet, Ginger, and Coconut Milk Soup by Epicurious Beets and ginger are a delicious pairing, especially with the creaminess of the coconut milk to make this soup. You can omit the oil or use vegetable broth in its place. Easy Beet Wonder Dip by Forks Over Knives Wow your friends with this simple and colorful dip, perfect for crackers or raw veggies. Beets are a vibrant, nutritious, and underappreciated member of the produce family. You might not expect the bright coloring, strong flavoring, and benefits of beets waiting underneath their unassuming outer skin. And despite the great divide when it comes to taste preferences, beets offer many benefits — from your heart to your brain to your overall disease-fighting immunity. So if you’re looking for a new addition to your diet, it doesn’t matter who’s wrong or right: just beet it!

date: 25-Aug-2021 22:00next


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