6 Health Benefits of Beets (and 2 Risks) You Never Knew About
Beets are packed with healthy nutrients, like five essential vitamins, calcium, iron, potassium, and protein. But they can also have some surprising side effects.
Health Benefit: Beets fight cancer
There are multiple cancer-fighting health benefits of beets, thanks to their high levels of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agents. They get their striking red color from betacyanin, a plant pigment that is proven to starve tumors and hinder cell division, states Dr. Mehmet Oz on his website. Also, high levels of a unique fiber found in beets may be linked to a lower colon cancer risk. According to Dr. Oz, adding a quarter cup of beets to your daily diet could cut your kidney cancer risk.
Health Benefit: Beets lower risk of heart disease
Beets are a good source of folate and betaine. These nutrients act together to help lower blood levels of homocysteine, which can increase your risk of heart disease by causing artery-damaging inflammation.
Health Benefit: Beets boost eye health
Beet greens are a good source of lutein, an antioxidant that helps protect the eyes from age-related macular degeneration and cataracts. They also contain a wide variety of phytochemicals that may help improve the health of your eyes and nerve tissues. Here are more antioxidant-rich foods you should be eating.
Health Benefit: Beets boost endurance
Nutrients journal assessed multiple different studies related to beet juice and endurance. The results concluded that drinking beetroot juice improves cardiorespiratory endurance and increases overall efficiency. They also hypothesized that it can lessen the effects of hypoxia in the blood, which can negatively impact athletic performance. The performance boost is thought to be from the nitrates found in the root. And these aren’t the only energy-boosting health benefits of beets. Additional research suggests that a beet-apple juice mixture could make certain activities (like walking) less exhausting for seniors.
Health Benefit: Beets reduce dementia risk
Beets produce nitric acid, which helps increase blood flow throughout your body, including to your brain. A study on older adults published in Nitric Oxide showed that after eating a high-nitrate diet that included beet juice, the subjects had more blood flow to the white matter of their frontal lobes.
Health Benefit: Beets combat constipation
Fiber helps keep your digestive system running smoothly, and one of the many health benefits of beets is that they are chock full of it. Check out these other vegetables you really should stop avoiding.
Health Risk: Beets contribute to kidney stones
Despite all these health benefits of beets, there are also some risks. For starters, you might want to eat beet greens with caution if you’re prone to kidney stones. According to the Harvard Medical School, beets are rich in oxalate, which can contribute to kidney stones. Make sure you read up on other “healthy” foods that can actually harm you.
Health Risk: Beets discolor your stool
You might find beets help you go to the bathroom, but don’t be alarmed if your urine or stool is pink or red. It’s not blood and is actually harmless. Now that you know all of the health benefits of beets, check out the 50 healthiest foods you can buy at the supermarket.
- Dr. Mehmet Oz: Top 4 Anti-Cancer Superfoods
- Nutritionvalue.org: Beets, raw: Nutritional Analysis
- Nutritionfacts.org: Greens
- Nutrients: Effects of Beetroot Juice Supplementation on Cardiorespiratory Endurance in Athletes. A Systematic Review
- Nitric Oxide: Acute effect of a high nitrate diet on brain perfusion in older adults
- SELFNutritionData: Beets
- Harvard Medical School: 5 Steps for Preventing Kidney Stones