Eat Smarter Special


2. Disadvantages of Beets
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1. Not everyone can metabolize dietary betalains

What percentage of people can absorb betalains?

Scientists estimate that 10 to 15% of adults in the United States are “betalain responders”, meaning they can absorb and metabolize betalains to gain the health benefits from them.

What properties of beets are these people missing out on?

Those who cannot synthesize betalains in their body will miss out on the incredible and varied effects which these phytonutrients offer. Betalains have proven to be effective anti-inflammatories and antioxidants, they supporting phase ii liver detoxification, and have shown to inhibit the growth of tumor cells in a number of organs.

Those who are not betalain responders will still benefit from the great array of nutrients in beets, however, the unique powers of these special phytonutrients will not have an effect.

Why can some people metabolize betalains and others can’t?

Scientist are unclear as to the reasons why some people can synthesize betalains and some cannot. Further research in this field is required for conclusive evidence.

EAT SMARTER TAKE AWAY: Not everyone can absorb and metabolize betalains, making them miss out on some of the health benefits of beets.

Beets are high in carbohydrate levels.

How much carbohydrate is in beets?

One cup (136 grams) of raw beets contains 13 grams of carbohydrate, which constitutes 4% of your recommended daily intake.

What are the dangers of high carbohydrate levels?

Carbohydrates are broken down in the digestive system into sugars, which enter the bloodstream. The body responds to this by producing insulin in the pancreas, and over time can cause cells to become resistant to insulin, which is one of the causes of type 2 diabetes, fatty liver disease, and metabolic syndrome.

Which groups of people are at risk from a high carbohydrate intake?

Those who monitor their weight should be cautious with a diet containing high levels of carbohydrate as they can lead to progressive weight gain. Diabetics and those with existing liver problems should also exercise caution with high carbohydrate diets.

EAT SMARTER TAKE AWAY: A high level of carbohydrates in the diet can increase weight gain and cause type two diabetes, fatty liver disease, and metabolic syndrome.

2. Beets have a high sugar content.

How much sugar is in beets?

One cup (136 grams) of raw beets contains 9.2 grams of sugar. It is recommended that an adult takes around 30 grams of sugar a day, which highlights the high levels in beets.

What are the dangers of high sugar levels?

A diet which is high in sugar content can lead to you becoming overweight, which in turn increases the risk of developing heart disease, type 2 diabetes or a stroke. It also causes tooth decay, fatty liver disease, and cancer.

EAT SMARTER TAKE AWAY: The large amounts of sugar in beets can potentially lead to a variety of serious health conditions.

Beets may cause an alarming color change to urine and stools.

3. What effect do beets have on urine and stools?

The vivid reddish-purple color in beets can often be translated into urine and stools, a phenomenon known as beeturia. It is thought to occur in 10-14% of the adults.

Is this change in color a problem?

Studies into beeturia show that there are no problems which cause people to display this change in color to their waste product. Whilst it may be alarming, and cause some to conclude that the color change is due to blood in the urine/stool, beeturia is a harmless byproduct of eating beets.

Can this reveal other issues?

Beeturia is most common in people with enhanced iron absorption, or those displaying some kind of iron deficiency. Scientists have concluded that beeturia is more likely to occur when the human body is starved of iron, and so could be used as an indicator for a lack of iron in the body.

EAT SMARTER TAKE AWAY: A change in the color of urine or stools caused by eating beets is not a problem. It may, however, highlight a lack of iron in the body.

4. Beets have a high oxalate content

What are oxalates?

Oxalates are organic molecules which are found in nearly all plant foods and are the result of incomplete oxidation of carbohydrates. The body stores oxalates, which can interfere with cells ability to absorb energy, causing numerous physical and cognitive problems.

How does my body deal with oxalates?

Oxalates can be responsible for cell death, and so are essentially toxins for the human body. Our system stores oxalates so they do not pass into the bloodstream, and seems to secrete them via urine or feces to avoid problems to the body.

What can I do to avoid oxalates being a problem?

Oxalates have been linked to the onset of kidney stones. It is recommended that a diet with fewer oxalates in it is the best way to avoid them causing a problem to your body.

EAT SMARTER TAKE AWAY: Beets contain oxalates, which are essentially toxic to the human body.