Health Benefits of Beets

Beets are a hardy root vegetable grown all over the world. The most common type of beet sold in grocery stores is Beta vulgaris, but there are many different varieties. They generally have an earthy, sweet taste that many people enjoy and are packed with nutrition.

Beets come in many vivid colors, from deep red to bright purple. Research suggests that eating vegetables in a wide array of colors can be good for your health. Adding colorful beets to your diet can be a visually appealing way to pack some extra nutrition into your favorite dishes.

Health Benefits

From reducing inflammation to improving heart health, beets provide many health benefits.

Reduced Inflammation

The stark red color of beets comes from compounds called betalains. Betalains have powerful antioxidant effects and can help reduce inflammation. Beets are also rich in nitrates, which reduce inflammation by removing harmful compounds from your bloodstream. This combination of betalains and nitrates makes beets a great choice for people with inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis or fibromyalgia

Heart Protection

The nitrates in beets don't just reduce inflammation, they also improve heart health. Nitrates have been shown to reduce high blood pressure. Beets are also naturally low in cholesterol and fat, which makes them a good option for people concerned about heart disease or stroke

Increased Energy

Mitochondria are responsible for producing the energy your cells need to function. Studies have shown that the nitrates in beets help these cellular powerhouses function better. Some athletes even drink beet juice before exercising to improve their performance.

Nutrition

Beets are a nutrient-dense root vegetable low in calories, fat, and cholesterol, making them a heart-healthy choice.

Nutrients per Serving

A single, half-cup serving of cooked beets contains:

  • Calories: 37
  • Fat: 0 grams
  • Cholesterol: 0 milligrams
  • Sodium: 65 milligrams 
  • Carbohydrates: 8 grams
  • Protein: 1 gram

With two grams of fiber per serving, beets are primed to help keep your digestive system regular. Additionally, they're an excellent source of:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin C
  • Calcium
  • Iron

Things to Watch Out For

One concern with eating beets is that eating a lot of beets may cause gout.

Gout is an extremely painful condition caused by an increased uric acid level in your blood. The oxalates found in beets can increase your uric acid level, meaning that too many beets can lead to gout. To avoid this, stick to no more than a single half-cup serving of beets per day. Other recommendations for avoiding gout include drinking lots of water, eating lean meats and poultries, and keeping to a healthy weight.

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How to Prepare Beets

Every part of the beet—from the stem to the bulb—is edible. If you're using the whole beet, be sure to wash it well before cooking to get rid of any fertilizers or dirt. You can peel the beet before cooking or eat it with the skin on. 

Beets have a distinctive, earthy flavor. If you've tried beets in the past and didn’t like them, you may need to experiment with different seasoning options to find your preferred way to eat them. They can be boiled, steamed, roasted, and prepared a variety of other ways. Beets can also be added to smoothies with other fruits and vegetables to help sweeten the taste.

Other options for adding beets to your diet include:

  • Mixing beets in with cottage cheese
  • Adding beets to a tossed salad
  • Boiling beets with cabbage and ham
  • Pureeing beets with potatoes to make a healthy soup
  • Mixing beet greens into pasta
  • Topping a veggie pizza with sliced beets
WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on August 20, 2020

Sources

SOURCES:

Cell Metabolism: "Dietary inorganic nitrate improves mitochondrial efficiency in humans."

Consumer Reports: "Are Beets Good for You?"

Hypertension: "Acute blood pressure lowering, vasoprotective, and antiplatelet properties of dietary nitrate via bioconversion to nitrite."

Mayo Clinic: "Cut Disease Risk by Adding Color to Your Diet." 

Mayo Clinic: “Gout Diet: What’s Allowed, What’s Not.”

Mayo Clinic: "Mayo Clinic Minute: It’s hard to beat the health benefits of beets."

Medical Sport Science: "Dietary Nitrate and O2 Consumption During Exercise." 

Nutrients: "The Potential Benefits of Red Beetroot Supplementation in Health and Disease."

Urological Research: “Calcium Oxalate Stone and Gout.”

© 2020 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

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