Beets are one of those foods that most people tend to either love or hate. The soft, buttery texture of a roasted or steamed beet is what gets most people hooked, and the slightly sweet, distinct flavor is what people usually gravitate toward (or away from, depending on taste).
If everyone really knew what kind of nutrition and health benefits can be garnered from adding beets to their diet, most people would try to include them whether they like them or not. These medium sized roots (and their leaves) really offer a lot in terms of health improvement and quality of life, and they are reasonably priced enough that everyone can afford to add them to their grocery list.
The bright reddish purple pigment – a uniquely bioavailable antioxidant, anti-inflammatory
Perhaps the most characteristic property of the beet is its bright red-purple pigment, betalain. The rough skin of the beet holds this pigment in, and should never be scraped or removed if possible before cooking. This pigment is the key to the unique health benefits of the beet, and can be destroyed by overcooking or removal of the skin.
Betalain contains an overall nutritional profile that isn’t found in many other vegetables, except in small quantity, and mostly in the typically uneaten portions of other grown foods. The unique caretenoids found in betalain offer support for the nervous system and function of important organs such as the eyes.
These pigments also offer unique cancer fighting ability for their high levels of both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant molecules. Studies have shown they inhibit the growth of cancerous tumors by inhibiting “pro-inflammatory” enzymes. In addition, beetroot fiber has been shown to increase white blood cell and antioxidant enzyme circulation, both of which increase our body’s natural cancer-fighting mechanisms.
Rich in brain-boosting, circulation-improving nitrates
Beetroot is also rich in nitrates. Naturally occurring nitrates are excellent for normalizing blood pressure. These nitrates are converted into nitric oxide within the body. Nitric oxide helps to expand the blood vessels, which allows blood to flow more freely throughout the body.
One study showed an almost immediate lowering in blood pressure in participants who drank beet juice. The effect was more noticeable in men. However women also experienced a decrease in blood pressure as well.
Not only are nitrates important in normalizing blood pressure and improving blood flow, they are also important for efficient brain function. Beetroot’s natural nitrate content helps increase the blood flow to the brain.
Blood carries necessary oxygen and other nutrients to the brain. When our blood is flowing freely and unencumbered by constricted or narrowed arteries, veins and capillaries, our brains are able to constantly get the “fuel” they need to effectively reason, concentrate and regulate the various areas of the brain.
Beets are an excellent food for detoxification. Beetroot fiber contains a more effective “dietary fiber” than other types of fibers in that it contains pectin polysaccharides, which are thought to be more effective at cleansing the digestive tract and keeping everything moving. Not only does the beetroot fiber support colon and digestive health by making elimination easier, it also supports the body’s overall detoxification mechanisms.
The pigments in beets have shown in studies to help trigger enzymatic activity that aids in the excretion of toxins and unwanted materials through our urine. Their unique properties make the transport of these toxins easier by helping to convert them into water soluble “waste”.
Danna Norek is the founder of AuraSensory.com, which offers a line of natural body, skin and hair care products. The product line includes a Natural Shine Enhancing Shampoo (sulfate free), Deep Hydration Conditioner, natural deodorant and a popular MSM (a naturally occurring, skin-softening and hydrating sulfur compound) and Vitamin C Ester Face Cream.
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