Written by: Sara Wylie
Have you been wishing that you could withstand the exhausting strain of a workout for longer periods of time in an effort to push yourself that extra satisfying mile? Do you suffer day by day with the pain of inflammation? Are you working on cleansing and detoxifying your body from all the harmful toxins embedded in your environment?
Beets may be the boost and support you’ve been looking for!
Check out the awesome benefits they have to offer and see just how much they could help you in your everyday life!
Beets are a strong superfood that have been growing in popularity since the 19th century. Though they were once most used for their high sugar content, step by step it has been discovered that the small, simple round vegetable holds more benefits for the human body than was previously realized.
In a study done by the Sports and Health Sciences Department at the University of Exeter (UK), they theorized and proved that athletes who drank beetroot juice prior to a workout had a higher tolerance to intense movement and were able to exercise for up to 16% longer. It has been thought that the nitrate content within beetroot is converted to nitric oxide, therefore allowing the reduction of oxygen cost when a person is exercising and giving them the endurance to exercise for longer periods.
Researchers at University Park, PA, further studied this theory and found that consumption of beetroot did affect how cells in the bloodstream absorbed and distributed oxygen:
“Nitrates, found in highest concentrations in leafy green vegetables such as spinach and beetroot, are converted naturally in the body to nitric oxide, a molecule that relaxes and widens blood vessels and affects how efficiently cells use oxygen… The investigators also observed a direct correlation between nitrite levels in the blood and the slowing of participants' arterial pulsation velocity, an indication that the supplement did indeed have a biological (artery de-stiffening) effect.”
Beets contain what is known as betaine, a nutrient that helps protect cells and enzymes from environmental stress, a life factor that is oftentimes the culprit of undesired inflammation. Beyond preventing such inflammation, betaine is also known for how it protects internal organs, improves vascular risk factors, enhances performance and even prevents certain diseases.
According to the World’s Healthiest Foods, having beets as a part of your diet (and therefore betaine) is great for backing you up when it comes to easing any inflammation throughout your body:
“... [Beets are] an unusual source of betaine. Betaine is a key body nutrient made from the B-complex vitamin, choline… In and of itself, choline is a key vitamin for helping regulate inflammation in the cardiovascular system since adequate choline is important for preventing unwanted build-up of homocysteine (Elevated levels of homocysteine are associated with unwanted inflammation and risk of cardiovascular problems like atherosclerosis).
But betaine may be even more important in regulation of our inflammatory status as its presence in our diet has been associated with lower levels of several inflammatory markers, including C reactive protein, interleukin-6 and tumor necrosis factor alpha.”
Beets also contain betalain pigments, which are why beets are great supporters of detoxification. They assist in “Phase 2” of your body’s detox process, meaning they interact during the point where the toxins that have been broken down within your body attach to other molecules that eventually carry the broken pieces out of the body.
When it comes to supporting detoxification, the World’s Healthiest Foods also highly recommends beets for the purpose, since the concentration of betalains is so high in beets:
“Beets are a unique source of phytonutrients called betalains. Betanin and vulgaxanthin are the two best-studied betalains from beets and both have been shown to provide antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and detoxification support. The detox support provided by betalains includes support of some especially important Phase 2 detox steps involving glutathione. Although you can see these betalain pigments in other foods (like the stems of chard or rhubarb), the concentration of betalains in the peel and flesh of beets gives you an unexpectedly great opportunity for these health benefits.”
After studies done by members of both the Nutritional Interventions Laboratory and the Baker IDI Heart & Diabetes Institute, it was concluded and proven that, “when consumed as part of a normal diet in free-living healthy adults,” beets will, in fact, lower blood pressure.
As mentioned before, beetroots contain nitrate, the element that converts to nitric oxide within your body and ultimately widens blood vessels and evens out blood flow. Due to this evening-out effect enabled by beets, it explains the reason why they are capable of lowering blood pressure and therefore also “[reducing] the risk of cardiovascular events,” as explained by members of the same studies.
Also, along with lowering blood pressure, it has also been proven by studies done by Wake Forest researchers that, because of the effect beets have on blood flow, beets also help increase blood flow to the brain and, therefore, have great potential to help reduce the risks and effects of disintegrating diseases such as dementia.
“‘There have been several very high-profile studies showing that drinking beet juice can lower blood pressure, but we wanted to show that drinking beet juice also increases perfusion, or blood flow, to the brain,’ said Daniel Kim-Shapiro, director of Wake Forest’s Translational Science Center; Fostering Independence in Aging. ‘There are areas in the brain that become poorly perfused as you age and that’s believed to be associated with dementia and poor cognition.’”
Along with the above benefits, beets also help with heart health, prevent cancer, provide antioxidants and contain a number of vitamins and nutrients, including fiber, potassium, iron, phosphorus, vitamin A, B and C, folic acid, magnesium… and the list of nutrients and benefits goes on.
In short, if you are looking for a nutrient-dense superfood to add to your diet, beets are a great place to start. They taste delicious in juices, salads and soup and just so happen to also be included in Fitlife’s very own Organifi Green Juice Powder (which I happen to LOVE!).
How do you enjoy beets? Comment below and share with us!
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This post-workout vanilla smoothie packs 45 grams of protein, tastes like an old-school milkshake and it’s low-sugar. You’re going to love it.