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What is Beetroot Good For?

Beetroot is the new “it” food. You’ll see it in smoothies, juices, dried, vacuum-packed, in powders and capsules.  This nutritious, low calorie, root vegetable is loaded with vitamins and minerals including vitamin C, B-6, folate, magnesium, phosphorus and more. But what is beetroot and what are the benefits of beetroot?

What is beetroot?

As its name indicates, beetroot is the root of the beet from the genus Beta vulgaris. There are many varieties of beets and since the Middle Ages they’ve been used a variety of ways – as part of the diet, for medicinal use and as a dye.

What are the benefits of beetroot?

Beetroot is good for you and there are many benefits of beetroot including the following:

Heart health

Several small studies suggest beetroot supports blood pressure already in the normal range presumably due to its nitrates. Nitrates are compounds that convert to nitric oxide, which in turn help manage blood pressure, blood vessels and heart rate.  In animal studies beetroot was found to enhance delivery of oxygen throughout the body, which also supports heart health.

Please note: never stop taking prescribed heart medication or alter your health regimen without first talking to a doctor.

Digestion and regularity

We all know consuming daily fiber is vital for smooth, comfortable digestion and overall health of your GI tract and beetroot can help with that. How much beetroot do you need for digestive support? One cup of beetroot provides over 3 grams of fiber, which according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), can provide more than 8.81% of a person’s daily requirement of fiber, depending on their age and sex.

Beet fiber resists digestion in the stomach and travels nearly intact to the colon where it promotes gut health. Beets have a long history of use for abdominal health. It’s believed the Romans used it to treat irregularity and other related conditions.

Exercise

Some studies suggest beetroot juice can enhance oxygen absorption during exercise giving you greater stamina and endurance.  Better oxygen flow means that your heart and lungs don’t have to work as hard during exercise, allowing you to increase duration.  While further research is necessary, beetroot may be just what you need to improve your athletic performance. For best results, it’s suggested you consume beetroot juice 90 minutes prior to exercise.

Liver health

Beets have a multitude of nutrients that keep your liver healthy including iron, antioxidants, vitamin C and vitamin B. These nutrients protect your liver from oxidative damage. Betaines and pectin in particular encourage detoxification, help flush out toxins, and combat fatty deposits in the liver.

Limited research also suggest beets may help thin out bile allowing for an easier flow through the liver and small intestines, which may promote liver health.

Brain health

As mentioned above, the nitrates in beets are converted into nitric oxide to support heart health, but the same applies to your brain. Many cognitive issues appear to be triggered by faulty nitric oxide pathways. Beets are thought to enhance brain neuroplasticity by improving the oxygen conversion and absorption in the brain’s cortex which fights aging. Nitrates also promote healthy blood flow to the brain and enhance cognitive functioning.

How much beetroot do you need?

Whether you consume beetroot juice, use powder or capsules, be sure to follow directions provided and not exceed recommendations.

How to use beetroot

  • Roast, steam or pickle beets.
  • Blend with oranges, apples or pineapple. Strain for a smoother texture
  • Grate raw beets and add to a salad.
  • Make a beet salad with a sprinkling or walnuts and goat cheese on top.
  • Slice raw beets with lemon juice.

Beets can be stored for several days, refrigerated in a tight sealed bag.

Too much of a good thing can discolor your urine or stools, called “beeturia.” Also keep in mind that a healthy diet includes a wide range of foods and nutrients, so make sure your diet is well balanced. Learn more here.

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