Beets add color and flavor to your plate, and offer multiple health benefits to your body. Unlike some exotic vegetables and fruits, beets are found in most grocery stores year-round, making it easy to partake of their nutritional worth. The April 2009 "Journal of Food Science" reports that beets maintain most of their health benefits no matter how you cook them, so plan to put them on your menu for a healthier you.
Reduce Blood Pressure
High blood pressure affects one in three adults across the globe and is responsible for 50 percent of deaths from stroke and heart disease, according to the May 2012 report from the World Health Organization. Adding beets to your dietary routine can help prevent you from being one of those statistics. Researchers from the University of Florida found that beet juice has the ability to reduce blood pressure and improve the way your body uses oxygen while walking and running. Published in the March 1, 2011, issue of "Journal of Applied Physiology," the study also reports that beet juice even improves resting blood pressure rate.
Lower Cholesterol Levels
High cholesterol is widely known for its negative effects on the body, having the ability to lead to stroke, heart disease and heart attack. Keeping your levels low will reduce your risk of such serious medical conditions and events. Researchers at the Polish Academy of Sciences studied the effects of beet consumption on cholesterol and triglyceride levels in rats that consumed a high-fat diet. The results of the study, published in the October 14, 2011, issue of "Lipids in Health and Disease," show that rats that were fed beet chips for four weeks showed a significant lowering of both their total cholesterol and triglyceride numbers.
Fight Cancer Cells
Beets get their deep red color from a pigment called betanin, which offers several health benefits, including the ability to fight cancer cells. When scientists at Howard University in Washington, D.C., tested beet extract, rich in betanin, against human prostate and breast cancer cells, they found that it slowed the growth rate of the cells. Though beet extract took longer to destroy the cells than the anticancer drug doxorubicin, it still offered the anticancer benefits. In the March 2011 issue of "Anticancer Agents in Medicinal Chemistry," researchers state that along with fighting cancer cells, beetroot extract is less toxic to liver cells than other anticancer drugs.
Help Control Weight
Beets benefit your waistline as well as your overall health. A safe addition to any diet, beets are low in calories but high in fiber, which makes you feel full and helps prevent overeating. When you cook fresh beets, do not toss out the tops. Beet leaves offer benefits as well, including the ability to help you control your weight. According to a Summer 2009 report in "Nutrition Research and Practice," beet leaves are high in antioxidants, which help cells in the body resist damage. When mice were fed a high-fat diet, researchers found that supplementing the diet with beet greens not only helped prevent weight gain but also led to a reduction in total fat. Beet leaves can be added to a salad raw or steamed as a side dish.
- Journal of Food Science: Influence of Cooking Methods on Antioxidant Activity of Vegetables
- World Health Organization: New Data Highlight Increases in Hypertension, Diabetes Incidence
- Journal of Applied Physiology: A Toast to Health and Performance! Beetroot Juice Lowers Blood Pressure and the O2 Cost of Exercise
- Lipids in Health and Disease: Physiological Properties of Beetroot Crisps Applied in Standard and Dyslipidaemic Diets of Rats
- Anticancer Agents in Medicinal Chemistry: Cytotoxic Effect of the Red Beetroot (Beta vulgaris L.) Extract Compared to Doxorubicin (Adriamycin) in the Human Prostate (PC-3) and Breast (MCF-7) Cancer Cell Lines
- Nutrition Research and Practice: Red Beet (Beta vulgaris L.) Leaf Supplementation Improves Antioxidant Status in C57BL/6J Mice Fed High Fat High Cholesterol Diet
A certified nutritionist who majored in health, fitness and nutrition, Traci Vandermark has been writing articles in her specialty fields since 1998. Her articles have appeared both online and in print for publications such as Simple Abundance, "Catskill Country Magazine," "Birds and Blooms," "Cappers" and "Country Discoveries."