7 Health Benefits of Eating Beets

These sweet, earthy root veggies are packed with surprising health benefits in circulation, brain function, and more.

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Beets do much more than brighten your dish with splashes of bright red or streaks of golden yellow. These vibrant root vegetables also come with a surprisingly high number of health benefits you may not be aware of.

Your Blood Pressure Improves

Beets are rich in nitrates, which the body converts to nitric oxide—a compound that relaxes and dilates blood vessels, turning them into superhighways for your nutrient- and oxygen-rich blood. That means better circulation, and possibly lower blood pressure.

A small study published in Nutrients in August 2019 found that drinking the red root juice may improve blood pressure. But, because of the high sugar content in many juices, medical experts advice that it's better to eat beats than drink them.

Your Heart Disease Risk May Drop

Beets don't just have a potentially positive impact on your blood pressure. They are also rich in a plant alkaloid called betaine, as well as the B-vitamin folate.

According to an article published in the Journal of Chiropractic Medicine in March 2013, together, betaine and folate deliver a one-two punch for lowering blood levels of homocysteine, a chemical your body uses to produce proteins.

In high levels, homocysteine increases your risk for artery damage and heart disease.

You May Improve Your Stamina

When elite athletes pee in a cup for a drug test, the color might be crimson. Why? Because lots of athletes eat beets—beets have pigments that turn urine pink.

Research, like this August 2018 article in Annual Review of Nutrition, has suggested that nitrates found in beets boost endurance performance.

It takes about three to five beets (depending on their size, which varies widely) to get a performance boost, said the study's author Andy Jones, PhD, professor of applied physiology in sport and health sciences, University of Exeter.

"Peak nitrate levels occur two to three hours after you eat or drink them," said Jones. So time your intake accordingly if your want to crush your 5K PR.

Your Brain May Work Better

The nitric oxide your body makes from the nitrates in beets relaxes and dilates your blood vessels, which in turn increases blood flow to the brain—which could bring on better brain function. That's particularly important as we age.

Our capacity to generate nitric oxide diminishes as we get older, along with our brain's energy metabolism and neuron activity. So give your brain a boost with beets.

In one small study published in The Journals of Gerontology in September 2017, 26 older males (average age of 65.4 years) who drank beet juice and exercised had brain networks that more closely resembled those of young adults.

In other words, with a little exercise and beetroot juice, we can help ensure our brains stay flexible and sharp as we age.

Your Liver Will Be Lighter

Your liver does the heavy work of cleaning your blood and "detoxing" your body. You can lighten its load with a daily serving of beets.

Research, like this article published in Current Research in Nutrition and Food Science in November 2019, shows that betaine, an amino acid found in beets (as well as spinach and quinoa), has a liver-protecting effect in people with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

A comprehensive review published in Biology in May 2021 also found evidence of the beneficial effects of betaine, including its ability to protect against liver-related and other diseases among a myriad of other benefits.

You May Be Better at Fighting Chronic Diseases

Beets are also rich in betalains, a class of potent antioxidants and anti-inflammatories that battle free radical- and inflammation-related chronic diseases like heart disease, obesity, and possibly cancer.

Research from an article published in Nutrients in April 2015 confirms the health benefits of eating these root vegetables include improving brain function and reducing high blood pressure, inflammation, and oxidative stress that can damage cells.

You Become Regular

"One way to beat irregularity and constipation is by eating fiber-rich foods like beets," said Leslie Bonci, RD, sports nutritionist at Pittsburgh-based company Active Eating Advice.

One cup of beets delivers about 4 grams of dietary fiber, particularly insoluble fiber, which helps reduce the risk of constipation, hemorrhoids (swollen veins in the anus and lower rectum), and diverticulitis (inflammation in the digestive tract).

The betaine found in beets has also been shown to improve digestion.

Just take note, your pee isn't the only thing beets turn pink. Don't be alarmed if you see crimson-colored stools 24 to 72 hours following a meal heavy in beets.

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