Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Health Benefits of Beets

The beet (Beta vulgaris) is a herbaceous biennial plant in the Amarathaceae-Chenopodiaceae family that is best known in its numerous cultivated varieties, of which the beetroot, or the garden beet, is the most popular.

Medicinal use of beets dates back to Ancient Rome where the bulbous roots and the leaves were used to cure variety of ailments that included fever, constipation, blood conditions and law libido.

The roots come in a variety of colors that can range from deep purple to golden yellow and white. The roots are round or oblong and are attached to purple-green leaves that are rich in vitamins, minerals  and carotenoids and can also be eaten.

Health benefits of beets:
  • anti-aging
  • hormonal rejuvenation
  • antioxidant
  • anti-inflammatory
  • detoxification and liver support
  • digestion support
  • cancer prevention
  • great source of energy

Beets are a unique source of phytonutrients called betalains. Betanin (which is a betacyanin pigment) and vulgaxanthin (a betaxanthin) are two best-studied betalains from beets, and both have shown antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. They also support the body's own detoxification processes. Although these betalain pigments are also present in such foods as the stems of chard or rhubarb, concentration of betalains in the peel and flesh of beets is the highest.
Beets are an excellent source of folic acid and a very good source of manganese, potassium, magnesium, copper and iron. They also contain high levels of boron which is responsible for optimal levels of sex hormones in the body.

Raw beets are rich in vitamin C, B1, B3, B5, and B6. They are a great source of dietary fiber. 

Betain present in beets helps lower homocysteine levels in the blood and reduce inflammation. High levels of homocystiene are responsible for the development of coronary heart disease, stroke and peripheral vascular diseases.

The leaves are rich in carotenoids, flavonoids  and vitamins A and K, and can be eaten raw or cooked. 

Researchers found that the combination of phytonutrients in beets may help prevent a number of cancers including breast, prostate, and colon cancers. They also support healthy vision and overall health of the nerve cells. With an ORAC value of 800 they are fairly good antioxidants.

Although high in sugar, beets do not cause sugar spikes. They have a very low glycemic index which means that the sugar is released very slowly into the blood stream.

Beets are perfect for people who wish to lose weight. They are low in calories and almost fat free. High in fiber, vitamins and minerals, they provide optimal health support. They can be eaten raw, cooked, grilled or marinated.

By Dominique Allmon ©2012

A word of caution

Beets and, especially, the beet leaves, contain oxalic acid that has been implicated in the formation of kidney stones. Oxalates also interfere with the absorption of calcium within the body. 

Individuals with a kidney stones history should eat beets in moderation or avoid them completely.

*ORAC - Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity is a method of measuring antioxidant capacities in biological samples in vitro.

*This information is for educational purpose only. It is not meant to diagnose or cure a disease.
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