Eat Smarter Special


1. Health Benefits of Beets
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1. Beets are a natural anti-inflammatory

Why does my body need anti-inflammatories?

Inflammation is the sign of the body’s natural response to resolving a problem and beginning the healing process. Infections, wounds and damage to the tissue would not heal without inflammation, however, if inflammation does not abate then it can rapidly become acute and lead to chronic inflammation, which can cause a number of major problems, including heart disease and cancer.

What elements in beets have anti-inflammatory properties?

Beets have unique phytonutrients in their pigment called betalains. There are three in particular which are present in beets and have shown anti-inflammatory properties; namely betanin, isobetanin, and vulgaxanthin.

How do these elements affect inflammation?

Cyclooxygenase enzymes (COX enzymes) are used by cells to produce messaging molecules which tell the body that inflammation is necessary. Betanin, isobetanin, and vulgaxanthin act to inhibit the activity of COX enzymes, which results in the body calling for inflammation.

How do beets reduce inflammation specifically in the cardiovascular system?

Beets are a good source of the B-complex vitamin choline, which creates a key body nutrient called betaine. Choline helps to prevent unwanted build-up of the amino acid homocysteine, which lowers the risk of heart disease. Also, studies have shown that betaine lowers the levels of several mechanisms which promote inflammation.

EAT SMARTER TAKE AWAY: Beets anti-inflammatory properties directly help the cardiovascular system, whilst reducing the probability of inflammatory problems throughout the entire human body.

2. Beets support phase ii liver detoxification

What is phase ii detoxification of the liver?

Whilst phase i detoxification is concerned with breaking down toxic chemicals into less harmful versions, phase ii detoxification is about binding these chemicals to another molecule.

How does this binding process neutralize toxins?

During phase ii detoxification, the toxins are bound to another substance by liver cells. This process makes the toxins water soluble, meaning they can then successfully be excreted from the body via urine.

What elements in beets support detoxification?

It is the betalain phytonutrients in the pigment of beets which help this detoxification process. Studies have shown that the betalains in beets trigger the activity of an enzyme, glutathione-S-transferase, which is involved in the binding process and so neutralization of certain types of toxins and drugs.

What are the risks of unsupported phase ii detoxification?

Slow or inactive phase ii enzymes can cause severe reactions to environmental toxins, which can significantly increase a person’s susceptibility to cancer.

EAT SMARTER TAKE AWAY: The betalain phytonutrients in beets actively promote the detoxification process in the liver.

3. Beets are a natural antioxidant

What are antioxidants?

Antioxidants serve to protect the body from cell damage caused by “free radicals”; which are natural byproducts of cell activity, but can cause serious problems to the human body, with links to many degenerative diseases.

How do antioxidants work?

Antioxidants stop free radicals forming by completing the electron pair, or they break down the harmful molecules to make them harmless. They also add a boost to your immune system, but because they are used up in the process, it is necessary to always keep topping up.

What elements in beets have antioxidant benefits?

Beets are an exceptionally rich source of antioxidant compounds. They have a high manganese and vitamin C content, which are both natural antioxidants. What makes beets unique are the betalain phytonutrients in their pigment, with studies specifically noting betanin and betanidin as key elements in reducing oxidative stress.

Which systems in my body benefit from antioxidants?

Most medical professionals will agree, that oxidative stress in the body is one of the major causes of life-threatening diseases, including cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and cancer.

EAT SMARTER TAKE AWAY: Betalain phytonutrients, combined with other nutrients in beets, reduce oxidative stress, giving a smaller chance of contracting a degenerative disease.

4. Beets help to prevent cancer

What types of cancer do beets help to stop?

Scientific research into beets’ ability to fight cancer is quite advanced. A number of lab studies on human tumor cells have confirmed that this marvelous root can reduce the probability of colon, stomach, nerve, lung, breast, prostate, and testicular cancers.

Which elements in beets protect against cancer?

Whilst the previously mentioned antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects of beets are an excellent reduction to the risk of cancer, they also have a high content of fiber which has shown to help reduce the onset of cancer in the digestive tract.

It is the unique betalain phytonutrients, specifically betanin, which show the most widespread effect in fighting cancer cells.

How does betanin fight cancer?

A 2005 study tested the efficacy of betanin in beets’ pigment to show a growth inhibition against human tumor cells taken from the breast, colon, stomach, central nervous system, and lungs. Betanin was potent against cyclooxygenase enzymes, which are a key factor in the growth of tumor cells.

How else do beets battle cancer?

So fixated on the wonderful root, few eat the green leaves which beets produce, when in actual fact, they have more nutritional value than the root itself. They have a fantastic range of nutrients, including a higher iron content than spinach.

The top greens of beets are a good source of flavonoids, which are another natural antioxidant, and can help protect against the growth of cancer cells in the lungs and mouth.

EAT SMARTER TAKE AWAY: The special phytonutrients in beets reduce the growth of cancer cells all around the human body. As natural antioxidants and anti-inflammatories, beets are well equipped to avoid cancer.

5. Beets are good for the cardiovascular system

Beets help to lower blood pressure

Studies have shown that adding beets to your diet can lower systolic blood pressure just 24 hours after it is consumed. This effect is thought to be due to the high nitrate content present in beets, which dilates blood vessels when turned into nitric oxide. This has fantastic benefits for the cardiovascular system, putting less pressure on blood vessels and so a lower probability of developing a problem with the heart.

Inflammation and heart disease

Inflammation is thought to be a common cause of heart disease and strokes. The natural anti-inflammatory effect of beets means that their consumption will lower the risk of developing heart problems.

Oxidation and heart problems

Oxidative stress is thought to play a crucial role in the onset of various cardiovascular diseases. As beets are a natural antioxidant, their consumption can reduce the possibility of developing heart problems through oxidization.

Fiber and the heart

Studies have reported that a diet which is high in fiber lowers incidence of several cardiovascular disease risk factors. Beets have a high fiber content, giving the eater another way in which these wonderful roots help the heart.

EAT SMARTER TAKE AWAY: Numerous active components in beets help to reduce the onset of cardiovascular diseases, making them excellent for your heart.

6. Beets are high in fiber

How much fiber is in beets?

One cup (136 grams) of raw beets contains 3.8g of dietary fiber, which constitutes 15% of your recommended daily intake.

Why is fiber necessary for my body?

Fiber cannot be broken down or absorbed by the human body, so a diet containing plenty of fiber is helpful in maintaining a healthy digestive tract by normalizing bowel movements.

What kind of fiber do beets provide?

Beets are a source of soluble and insoluble fiber. Neither forms get broken down by the body but do aid digestion in their own ways. Insoluble fiber helps to soften stools, making it easier to pass waste, whilst soluble fiber breaks down in your intestines to create a gel-like substance, which lowers cholesterol levels.

What are the dangers of low levels of fiber?

It is recommended that adults take 25-38 grams of fiber a day. A lack of fiber in the diet can cause problems with bowel movements, which can lead to bacterial infection and the onset of serious problems in the stomach and intestinal tract.

EAT SMARTER TAKE AWAY: Beets are a good source of soluble and insoluble fiber, which help to normalize bowel movement and reduce the probability of infection in the digestive tract.           

7. Beets have excellent nutritional value

Which nutrients are beets an excellent source of?

One cup (136 grams) of raw beets contains the following nutrients and associated percentage of recommended daily intake (RDI):

  • Folate:             148 mcg          37% RDI
  • Manganese:    0.4 mg             22% RDI
  • Potassium:      442 mg            13% RDI

How do these nutrients benefit my body?

Folate is a water-soluble B vitamin which is crucial for proper cognitive and emotional functioning. It also promotes a healthy liver, skin, hair and eyes.

Manganese also plays a role in the function of the brain and nerves. It is used to build healthy bones and is found in the liver, kidneys and pancreas. It is also a natural antioxidant.

Potassium is very important for the correct function of cells, tissues and organs. It is crucial to proper heart function and has an important role in normal digestion.

Which other nutrients do beets represent a good source of?

One cup (136 grams) of raw beets also contains the following nutrients and associated percentage of recommended daily intake (RDI):

  • Fiber:              3.8 g                15% RDI
  • Vitamin C:       6.7 mg             11% RDI
  • Magnesium:    31.3 mg           8% RDI
  • Iron:                 1.1 mg             6% RDI
  • Phosphorus:   54.4 mg           5% RDI
  • Vitamin B6:     0.1 mg             5% RDI
  • Copper:           0.1 mg             5% RD

How do these nutrients benefit my body?

Whilst fiber has been covered above, the health benefits of other nutrients are as follows:

Vitamin C: Important in the growth and repair of tissues, skin, tendons and blood vessels. Vitamin C is also a natural antioxidant.

Magnesium: Plays an important role in the regulation of biochemical reactions in the body. It aids muscle and nerve function, blood sugar levels and balances blood pressure.

Iron: Essential for making red blood cells and transporting oxygen around the body.

Phosphorus: Builds strong bones and teeth, and is essential for the growth and repair of tissues and cells.

Vitamin B6: Important in the conversion of food into energy. Promotes the correct function of the nervous system, and positively affects the skin, hair, eyes and liver.

Copper: Promotes a healthy nervous system, makes blood cells, bones, and tissues. Copper is also a natural antioxidant.

What other nutritional information should I know?

Beets have the additional benefit of being low in calories and contain zero cholesterol. One cup (136 grams) of raw beets contain just 58 calories.

EAT SMARTER TAKE AWAY: Beets have an extensive array of nutritional content, helping the human body in many ways.

8. Beets reduce the chance of birth defects

What elements in beets help fetal development?

The high folate content in beets is the main factor which aids the development of a fetus. Folate is a B vitamin which is required for DNA replication, with a pregnant woman’s body requiring more folate than normal circumstances for the growth and development of the fetus.

How does folate affect an infant's development?

Folate has shown to protect against abnormalities in the fetal structure, including birth defects in the brain, spine or spinal cord (neural tube defects) and congenital heart defects. Most neural tube defects happen in the first month of pregnancy, possibly before a woman knows she is pregnant.

How else does folate help during pregnancy?

Studies have linked the possibility of premature birth to a deficiency in folate, however, more research is required in this field for results to be considered conclusive.

EAT SMARTER TAKE AWAY: The high folate content in beets helps a fetus to develop in the correct ways.

9. Beets play an important role in the healthy function of the brain and eyes.

How do beets improve my cognitive functioning?

Studies have shown impaired nitric oxide activity in the body in associated with poor cognitive ability and is related to a number of neurological disorders, including dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Beets are a fantastic source of nitrates, which are turned into nitric oxide in the body, providing a good source of these essential elements.

What elements of beets aid the functioning of the eyes?

Studies have shown that an underproduction of nitric oxide can lead to the onset of various eye diseases. Supplementing your diet with beets gives a boost to the level of nitrates in the body, and so can prevent and even treat diseases in the eyes.

How else do beets aid vision?

The green leaves of beets also offer fantastic benefits to the health of the eyes. Beet greens contain lutein and zeaxanthin carotenoids, which appear in high concentrations in the eyes, protecting them from high-energy light waves.

EAT SMARTER TAKE AWAY: Beets’ nitrates help reduce the probability of diseases occurring in the brain and eyes, whilst also promoting general healthy function.

10. Beets boost stamina

What properties in beets boost stamina?

It is thought that the effect on stamina from consuming beets is due to their high nitrate content. When turned into nitrate oxide, these elements aid the transportation of oxygen in the blood, reducing the amount of oxygen consumed during exercise. Nitrates also serve to lower blood pressure, which puts less strain on the heart during exercise.

How much extra stamina can I get from beets?

A study by the University of Exeter concluded that beets can help you exercise for up to 16% longer.

Who benefits from this boost of stamina?

Whilst these findings will be of interest to those who enjoy exercising as part of their daily lifestyle, this phenomenon can also benefit those with poor fitness levels, giving a stamina boost to their normal everyday activities.

EAT SMARTER TAKE AWAY: Nitrates in beets reduce oxygen consumption and give up to 16% more stamina.

11. Beets are a natural aphrodisiac for men

What is an aphrodisiac?

An aphrodisiac is something which is ingested with the resulting effect of boosting sexual desire.

What properties in beets have this effect?

Beets contain a large amount of boron, which promotes the production of testosterone. Increasing the levels of sex hormones will have an increased effect in sexual appetite.

How else do beets improve my sex life?

The nitrates in beets serve to lower blood pressure, which can help men with their overall performance during sex.

EAT SMARTER TAKE AWAY: Beets boost testosterone production, increasing sexual appetite in men.