Ask a roomful of people if they like beets or could leave them and chances are most people will leave them…off their plates.
Beets offer a wide range of health benefits for almost everyone, especially for athletes:
Increased blood flow and oxygenation: Beets are rich in nitrates, which our body changes to nitric oxide. This enhances blood vessel dilation and flow, strengthening muscle contractions and reducing the amount of oxygen that our muscles need.
Unique antioxidant profile: Beets get their red color primarily from betalain antioxidant pigments. These particular types of betalains in beets have been shown to provide antioxidant, anti-inflammatory properties.
Reduce Blood Pressure: Nitrate-rich beets have shown to reduce blood pressure.
Inflammation: Many of the nutrients in beets have been shown to have an anti-inflammatory effect. This may help combat chronic, low- grade inflammation-related diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes.
Detoxification support: The betalain pigments in beets have been shown to support our body's natural detoxification process by binding to toxins so that they can be excreted from our bodies.
Potential anti-cancer benefit: The betalain pigments from beets have been shown to lessen tumor cell growth (in laboratory tests).
One caution when consuming beets is they are high in oxalate. This is a compound found in the soil that has no known benefits to humans. For people who develop calcium- oxalate kidney stones, it can increase the risk for more, so likely best to avoid beets if you fall in this group.
Beets can also cause urine to become red or pink, a condition dubbed, “beeturia.” It's possible for beets to impart a red color into bowel movements as well. It’s perfectly harmless though, although it may cause alarm until you remember you had that roasted beet salad the night before.
French "Peasant" Beets
Serves 2 for dinner, 4 as a side
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Liz Weinandy, M.P.H., R.D.
Besides being a member of the 614Fitness community, Liz is a Registered Dietitian and staff dietitian at the OSU Wexner Medical Center. She has published numerous articles on diet and appears often on local television.