Try this superfood for “unbeetable” cardiovascular benefits
There’s no doubt about it: beets are “having a moment.” More accurately, they are having a decade. That’s roughly how long it’s been since the humble beet was recognized for its healthful effects, and awarded superfood status by dietitians and nutritionists.
As it happens, scientific analysis has shown that these colorful root vegetables - whether cooked or juiced - are high in beneficial nitrates, offering substantial benefits to the heart while fighting against chronic degenerative disease.
Properly cooked beets have a hearty, savory-sweet flavor and a tender, satisfying consistency. Their brilliant crimson color is not only visually pleasing - but attests to high levels of disease- fighting plant pigments.
How to promote heart health and enhance athletic performance
Beet juice supports increased production of beneficial nitric oxide, which helps to dilate blood vessels and lower high blood pressure - a proven risk factor for heart attacks, heart failure and strokes. In addition, beet juice’s abundant content of antioxidant compounds known as betalains can help reduce the oxidative damage that triggers heart disease.
One 2015 study showed that drinking as little as 250 ml (about a cup) of beet juice a day was enough to significantly lower blood pressure, leading the researchers to speculate that consuming high-nitrate vegetables could be an inexpensive, drug-free way to treat high blood pressure. And, when beets are eaten raw or cooked, they may deliver even more substantial benefits.
A cup of beets contains a generous 3.81 grams of fiber, which can help to lower harmful LDL cholesterol while protecting against type 2 diabetes and cancer.
By the way, beet juice may also help enhance athletic performance. Studies conducted with cyclists showed that two cups of beet juice a day significantly improved time trials.
This vegetable juice has GREAT value for heart failure patients
You don’t need to be an athlete to enjoy the performance-enhancing benefits of beets and beet juice. Beet products can also be helpful for people suffering from heart failure, as well.
Heart failure, a condition in which the heart can’t pump enough blood to meet the body’s demands, currently affects close to 6 million people in the United States. Appropriate, medically supervised aerobic exercise is an important therapy to reduce hospitalizations and deaths - especially in the early stages of the illness - but shortness of breath and fatigue can inhibit patients’ ability to exercise.
In a placebo-controlled 2018 study published in the Journal of Cardiac Failure, researchers found that beet juice supplementation caused increases in exercise duration, peak power and peak oxygen uptake in heart failure patients.
Another study published in Circulation: Heart Failure showed that beet juice caused a 13 percent increase in muscle power among heart failure patients – and accomplished this within two hours of being consumed. One impressed researcher even likened the effect of drinking beet juice to “Popeye eating his spinach.” Amazingly, the researchers reported that the magnitude of improvement in heart failure patients who drank the beet juice was equal to that obtained by two to three months of resistance training!
Check out this impressive nutritional profile
One cup of raw beets provides 2.19 grams of plant-based protein, along with 13 grams of carbs. Beets contain substantial amounts of essential minerals, including potassium and magnesium - both of which are needed for normal nerve function and stable heartbeat.
In addition, beets don’t skimp on the vitamins, either. The same cup of beets provides a hefty 37 percent of the reference daily intake for folate, or vitamin B9, an important micronutrient that has been shown to help reduce risk of stroke. Beets also contain healthy amounts of antioxidant vitamin C. At a modest 58 calories per cup, beets are a wise dietary choice.
Great NEWS for beets in your next meal
Beets can be enjoyed raw, roasted, steamed or boiled. You can also add them to smoothies - or make your own power-packed beet drink by blending peeled beets with orange, pineapple or apple juice.
Strain the drink for smoother consistency, and flavor with lemon slices, ginger or mint if desired. Raw beets can be grated over salads and coleslaw, or served garnished with lemon juice and chili powder.
Incidentally, beets and beet juice have an alarming – but harmless - side effect. Consuming them can cause urine and stools to turn temporarily pink, red or even purple, (Surprise)! This condition, known as “beeturia,” may be startling, but is no cause for medical concern.
Beets and beet juice both offer undeniable benefits to the heart and arteries, and seem to have the ability to enhance energy levels, muscle strength and athletic performance. So, make them a part of your healthy diet and your heart will thank you.
Sources for this article include:
benefits of beets, betalains, heart failure, lower blood pressure, nitric oxide