Beets are a nutrition powerhouse with many health benefits that you should add to your diet regularly.  Here are some reasons why:

  • Lower blood pressure – beets are high in dietary nitrates which your body converts to nitric oxide.  This relaxes and dilates blood vessels which improves circulation and can significantly lower blood pressure for about 6 hours.
  • Improve athletic performance – the nitrates in beets improve the efficiency of mitochondria, the part of the cells that produce energy.  Note that nitrates in your blood peak in 2 – 3 hours after you eat beets, so plan your workout accordingly.
  • Fight inflammation – beets get their red color from phytonutrients called betalains which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.  The betalains are most concentrated in the peel and the flesh of the beet.  They lose some of their nutritional value when cooked, so it’s best to eat them raw or drink raw beet juice.
  • Detox – your liver is responsible for detoxifying chemicals and toxins from your blood and the betalains in beets help the liver with the detox process.
  • Digestive health – beets are a good source of fiber and have a high-water content.  This helps keep things moving through your digestive system and helps prevent digestive conditions like IBD and diverticulitis.
  • Brain health – the nitrates in beets dilate the blood vessels and increase blood flow to the brain, especially the frontal lobe which is associated with higher-level thinking like decision making and working memory.
  • Weight loss – because of their high water and fiber content, beets helps you feel fuller longer, so you eat less.  They are also low in calories.
  • Power-packed nutrition – both the beet root and the greens are rich in potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, beta-carotene, folic acid and vitamins A, B and C.  The beet greens have more iron than spinach, so make sure you don’t throw them away.

There are many ways to enjoy beets, with the most nutritious being raw or lightly steamed.  Grate them and add them to salads or coleslaw; juice them and flavor with fresh oranges, mint, pineapple, or ginger; add the beets and greens to smoothies; roast the beets along with other root vegetables;  make a healthy, authentic red velvet cake colored with beets instead of food coloring.

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