Beetroot is a root vegetable that contains important nutrients. Studies state its benefits in lowering blood pressure, boosting energy, and fighting inflammation.
Beetroots are also called blood turnips. They are low in sodium and fat and are good sources of fol-ate and hence support mental and emotional health.
Beets also contain vitamin K (blood clotting properties) and calcium (for strong bones and teeth). They are also rich in fiber, and some believe that including them in the diet may help with weight loss. However, there is no research to prove this.
Some experts also feel that the juice may help your body better absorb the nutrients. In this post, we will explore the ways eating beets regularly can benefit you.
Table Of Contents
- What Is Beetroot?
- Health Benefits Of Beetroot
- What Are The Different Beet Varieties?
- Beets Nutrition Facts
- Selection And Storage
- How Much Beetroot To Eat Per Day
- How To Incorporate Beetroot Into Your Diet
- Fresh Beet Recipes
- Super Cool Beetroot Facts
- Other Uses Of Beetroot
- Beetroot Side Effects
What Is Beetroot?
Beetroot is touted as one of the healthiest veggies. It is the taproot portion of the beet plant. It is one of the many varieties of the genus Beta vulgaris, all of which are mostly grown for their edible taproots and leaves. Apart from being used as food, beetroot is also used as a medicinal plant and a food colorant.
Right from the Middle Ages, beetroot has been used not only as food but also as a treatment for numerous conditions. It is popularly known as beet and is called Chukandar in Hindi, Remolachas in Spanish, and Hong cai tou in Chinese. Beets have been used for a long time as a treatment for anemia in Indian households.
Health Benefits Of Beetroot
Check out some of the most talked-about beetroot benefits for health.
1. May Delay Signs Of Premature Aging
Beet greens contain vitamin A and carotenoids that can benefit you from inside out. They also contain a decent amount of lutein, another potent antioxidant. These fight free radicals and can play a role in human skin photoprotection . However, there is no direct research of beets delaying the signs of aging.
According to a Chinese study, sugar beet molasses has excellent antioxidant properties. The phenolic contents of sugar beet molasses demonstrate anti-aging properties .
2. Can Improve Skin Health
If you are wondering what are beetroot benefits for the skin, here’s your answer. Beetroot ingestion has been found to prevent skin cancer . Also, beets contain vitamin A that maintains healthy mucous membranes and improves skin health. Vitamin A also supports the daily replacement of skin cells .
Some believe that beetroot may also help purify the blood. This may promote skin health, though more research is warranted.
Beets are also good sources of vitamin C . Studies show that skin fibroblasts need vitamin C to synthesize collagen. Vitamin C also protects the skin from the harmful effects of UV radiation. Adequate vitamin C levels also minimize the formation of raised scars .
3. Can Be Beneficial During Pregnancy
A study focused on the possibility of beets being beneficial for pregnant women, especially because of their nitrate content. However, more research is required .
Beets are also rich in folic acid, which is a very good reason for pregnant mothers to include them in their diet. Folic acid helps prevent neural tube defects in the baby .
4. May Lower Blood Pressure
In a study conducted at the Queen Mary University of London, beetroot juice was found to lower blood pressure in a matter of four weeks. As per experts, this is because of the presence of nitrates, which the body converts into nitric oxide. In the process, the blood vessels expand .
Also, consuming beetroot juice regularly can prolong these good effects. If you are thinking of what to snack on as you watch your favorite TV series in the evenings, you know what to do now. Consuming as much as 250 ml of beet juice a day can have better blood pressure lowering effects than plain water with nitrates . It is also believed that the juice might have better effects than most antihypertensive drugs, although information is insufficient in this regard. Do talk to your doctor before you use the juice for blood pressure treatment.
Another study conducted by the Newcastle University of London revealed similar findings – inorganic nitrate and beet juice supplementation helped lower blood pressure . This may benefit individuals at risk of cardiovascular disease. More long-term studies are needed to understand this mechanism further.
5. Can Be Good For The Heart
The nitrates in beets lower blood pressure. They may reduce the risk of heart disease and strokes.
As per a study, just one week of regular beetroot juice dosing can improve endurance and blood pressure in older individuals at risk of heart failure .
Another American study has stated that the ingestion of beet juice prevents myocardial infarction (obstruction of blood supply to a tissue in the heart) .
In rat studies, beetroot was found to improve the delivery of oxygen to the working skeletal muscles . When the working skeletal muscles don’t get enough oxygen, they are impaired and decrease one’s capacity to move their arms or legs. This results in decreased physical activity, ultimately leading to heart disease.
6. May Aid Cancer Prevention
Beetroot extract may have the potential to prevent cancers of the breast and prostate . This can be attributed to the presence of betanin (a form of betalain) in beetroot. More studies are needed to substantiate this benefit of beetroot.
In another study conducted at the Howard University of Washington, beetroot ingestion was found to prevent lung and skin cancers .
Beetroot juice, when taken along with carrot extract, was found to aid in the treatment of leukemia. Numerous studies have supported the anticancer and chemopreventive properties of beets .
In another French study, betanin was found to decrease cancer cell proliferation significantly.
7. Can Promote Liver Health
The presence of calcium, betaine, B vitamins, iron, and antioxidants keeps beets among the best liver foods.
Beets contain pectin, a fiber that is known to help eliminate toxins . It can clear the toxins that have been removed from the liver, making sure they don’t re-enter the body.
The liver also contains zinc and copper, both of which can protect the liver cells from oxidative stress .
As per a Polish study, beetroot can also protect the liver from oxidative damage .
Some believe that beets may also thin the bile, allowing it to easily flow through the liver and small intestine, which may enhance liver health. Research is limited in this aspect.
8. May Boost Energy Levels
Studies have found that beetroot makes the muscles more fuel-efficient, thereby enhancing stamina. One such study involved men aged from 19 to 38, who cycled on exercise bikes. Taking about half a liter of beet juice a day enabled them to cycle 16% longer without getting exhausted .
As per another study, eating beetroot gave runners a modest edge over others who didn’t – which amounted to an average of 41 seconds in a 5k run . The reason is beetroot’s ability to enhance the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood. It also reduces the amount of oxygen the muscles need to perform optimally.
Another study showed that beetroot enhanced the performances of international-level female kayak athletes . The athletes had received two 70 ml beetroot shots two hours before the trials, and they had noticed a change.
Beetroot has also been found to reduce the oxygen cost of exercise. In tests conducted on exercising rats, beet juice supplementation was found to enhance blood flow to the limbs . The vegetable may also improve exercise performance in individuals with peripheral artery disease .
It is theorized that the nitrates in beetroot may also help improve blood flow, cell signaling, and hormones. These may also help increase energy levels. However, more research is needed in this regard.
Beetroot may also help reduce the muscle usage of adenosine triphosphate, which is the body’s chief energy source. There is insufficient information in this regard, though.
9. May Help Fight Inflammation
As per an Iranian study, beetroot, especially in the juice form, was effective in treating inflammation . Another Egyptian study found that beetroot extract could treat inflammation in the kidneys .
The folate, fiber, and betalains could be responsible for beetroot’s anti-inflammatory properties.
10. May Promote Brain Health
Beets are known to improve brain neuroplasticity by improving the oxygenation of the somatomotor cortex – the brain area that is usually affected in the early stages of dementia .
When older hypertensive adults were given a beet juice supplement (in addition to exercise), their brain connectivity began to resemble that of younger adults .
The nitrates in beets are converted into nitric oxide within our bodies. This nitric oxide allows the brain cells to communicate with each other, thereby enhancing brain health. Nitrates also improve blood flow to the brain .
Beetroot juice has also been found to prevent Alzheimer’s . As per certain studies, those who drank beetroot juice had healthier brains and improved cognitive functioning .
According to another UK study, dietary nitrate can improve cerebral blood flow, thereby enhancing brain functioning.
11. May Control Blood Sugar Levels
This has more to do with sugar beets. According to an Iceland study, the fiber from sugar beets can reduce hyperglycemia .
As per a UK study, the consumption of beetroot juice was found to suppress postprandial (after a meal) glycemia .
12. Can Aid Digestion
What are the benefits of eating beets regularly? Well, regular consumption of beet or beet products has been found to improve digestion and blood quality . Some anecdotal evidence suggests that white beets can also open the obstructions of the liver and spleen, but research is limited. Red beets may be useful in treating illnesses related to the digestive system and blood.
In fact, red beets have a prominent place in history when it comes to abdominal health. It is believed that Romans used beets to treat constipation and other related ailments.
As they are rich in fiber, beets may help treat diverticulitis. It was found that populations ingesting high amounts of fiber had lower incidences of diverticulitis Fiber also aids bowel movement and enhances the overall health of the digestive system .
13. May Reduce Bad Cholesterol Levels
In an animal study, rats fed with beet extracts saw a decrease in the total cholesterol levels and an increase in good cholesterol . Though more research is required in this aspect, the study authors believe that the phytonutrients in beets can have these beneficial properties.
Beetroot is also one of those few foods that are low in calories and contain zero cholesterol.
14. May Help Treat Anemia
We know the deficiency of iron causes anemia. It has been found that beets are rich in iron, and the absorption of iron is better from beetroot than a few other vegetables. Beetroot also has better iron content than beet greens .
The folate in beets may also help in anemia treatment.
15. May Improve Sexual Health
It is believed that beetroot has been used as an aphrodisiac since the Roman times. Beets contain good amounts of boron. Boron is directly linked to the production of sex hormones. Beets are also relaxing. The betaine in beets relaxes your mind, and tryptophan contributes to happiness – both of which can help you get in the mood.
According to a Saudi Arabian study, beetroot juice can also help treat sexual weakness.
16. Can Help Prevent Cataracts
Beets (especially beet greens) are rich in beta-carotene that may help reduce the risk of cataracts . They also help prevent age-related macular degeneration .
17. Increases The Levels Of Antioxidants
This can be attributed to the presence of polyphenols and betalains – compounds in beetroot that offer it its antioxidant properties. As per a study, the betalain pigment in beets has potent anti-inflammatory properties . These properties help treat oxidative stress and improve cognition.
The antioxidants that are abundant in beets (and their greens) may improve the body’s antioxidant status.
18. May Help Prevent Osteoporosis
We have already seen that the nitrates in beets get converted into nitric oxide in the body. A Japanese study states that nitric oxide can help prevent certain lifestyle-related diseases, including osteoporosis .
Another reason beetroot is good for treating osteoporosis is the presence of silica. The mineral is required by the body to utilize calcium efficiently. Having a glass of beetroot juice every day can keep osteoporosis and other related ailments (like the brittle bone disease) at bay .
According to studies, betaine supplements help lower the levels of homocysteine in the body. Excessive build-up of homocysteine can elevate the risk of osteoporosis, especially in younger adults.
Beets contain some calcium, and some believe it may also help strengthen bones and teeth.
Beetroots are powerful vegetables that deserve a place in your daily diet. Though the most common variety is the red beet, the veggie is available in other varieties as well.
What Are The Different Beet Varieties?
Beets come in a few different varieties. They are:
- Chioggia, which is an Italian variety with distinct red and white striped flesh.
- Formanova, which is a cylindrical beet that grows up to 8 inches long.
- Golden, which is carrot-colored but still tastes like the beet. The greens of beet vegetable are especially delicious.
- Detroit Dark Red, which is a popular variety that grows 2 ½ to 3 inches in diameter. This one can be grown in a wide variety of soils and temperature conditions.
- Lutz Green Leaf, which is an unusual variety that grows up to four times the size of normal beets.
Beets are usually red. This can largely be attributed to betalain, a pigment that beets contain. There is another variety of beets – the white beets. These are cooked the same way as their red cousins, but without the issues with the color (which might stain your dress at times). Another variety is golden beets, where the root is pale orange. The flesh is of a similar color – and it is firm, healthy, and sweet. Golden beets are low in calories and extremely rich in fiber. They also are great sources of potassium and calcium.
Beets are also consumed in the form of crystals – the juice of beets is concentrated into soluble crystals, which can be mixed with another drink and taken. Sugarbeet is another root crop that flourishes in temperate climates, with the growing season usually five months long.
In the following section, we will explore the varied nutritional profile of beetroots.
Beets Nutrition Facts
One cup of beetroot (136 grams) has 58 calories. It also contains 13 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of protein, and 4 grams of fiber. Following are the other nutrients in beets:
- 22 mg of calcium
- 1 mg of iron
- 31 mg of magnesium
- 54 mg of phosphorus
- 442 mg of potassium
- 47 mg of zinc
- 44 mg of manganese
- 6 mg of vitamin C
- 175 mg of betaine
- 148 mcg of folate
- 45 IU of vitamin A
The only way to enjoy the goodness of these nutrients is to pick the right beets. In the following section, we will discuss how to select the right beets and how to store them properly.
Selection And Storage
Yes, you can get a packet of fresh beets from the market. The question is – how do you separate the best from the rest?
- Pick only those beets that are small and firm and have a deep maroon coloring.
- They must also have unblemished skin and bright leaves (with no signs of wilting, and they can be moist too).
- Go for hard and firm roots – this means the beets are fresh as they are recently plucked.
- Avoid beets with scales or spots. The taproot must be attached.
- If a beet is large and has a hairy taproot, keep it aside. The hairs are an indication of roughness and age. You don’t want them.
- Your beets must be 1 ½ to 2 inches in diameter. A beet any larger means it will grow a tough and woody center. You don’t want that, either. Smaller beets are best. They are tender and sweet.
- Trim the leaves 2 inches from the root as soon as you are home. Otherwise, the leaves will sap the moisture from the root. Also, do not trim the tail.
- Store the leaves in a plastic bag separately and use them within two days.
- You can refrigerate beets just like any other vegetable – in a tightly sealed plastic bag. Doing this can keep them fresh for at least 7 to 10 days in the refrigerator.
- Cooked or canned beets can also be refrigerated up to one week.
But you can’t keep eating beets the whole day, right? Or can you? The dosage is very important.
How Much Beetroot To Eat Per Day
Though there is no specified dosage, beetroot is generally dosed based on the nitrate content. The ideal nitrate content is 6.4 to 12.8 mg of nitrates for every 1 kg of beetroot.
Otherwise, there is no specific way of telling the number of beets that could be harmful. To keep it simple – one serving (1 cup, which equals to 136 grams) of beets per day should do.
If you want to know the dosage of beetroot juice powder, the packaging can help. Even otherwise, you wouldn’t need a higher dose – at least not as much as one serving of beets.
As for beet juice, the dosage is about 200 to 250 ml per day.
How To Incorporate Beetroot Into Your Diet
This is pretty simple.
- One way is to consume beet juice. You can juice the beet greens as well, as they also contain good amounts of potassium and magnesium.
- You can shred raw beets on your salad. Grate them finely.
- You can also bake beets. But ensure you wear something to cover your hands to avoid ‘red hands.’
The following recipes can also help.
Fresh Beet Recipes
Here are a few ways to eat beets.
1. Russian Beetroot Soup Recipe (Borscht)
What You Need
- 1 kg beef chuck with the bone, well rinsed
- 8 cups of cold water
- 1 large onion and carrot, both coarsely chopped (with the carrot peeled as well)
- 1 coarsely chopped celery rib
- 1 sachet of stock
- 450 grams of beets and 3 large carrots, all trimmed and peeled
- ¼ cabbage, shredded
- 2 large peeled and sliced potatoes
- 2 large diced onions
- 2 tablespoons of tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon of sugar
- Salt and pepper, as required
- Sour cream and lemon wedges, as required
- For the beef stock, first, combine the beef and water in a stockpot over medium heat. Bring it to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer gently. Skim the top surface for about 30 minutes, or until the impurities no longer appear.
- Add the onion, carrot, and celery to the pot. Also, tie the stock sachet to the pot handle and drop it into the pot. Cover the pot and simmer for an hour or until the meat falls off the bone.
- Remove the stock sachet. Transfer the beef to a bowl and pull the meat off the bones. Chop the meat into bite-sized pieces and set them aside. Strain the stock into a clean and heatproof container, all the while pressing on the vegetables to obtain maximum flavor. You can then discard the vegetables.
- To make the soup, cook the beets and carrots in the beef stock. Cook for about 45 minutes or until tender. Remove from broth, let it cool and then shred it coarsely. Set aside.
- As the beets and carrots cool, you can add cabbage, onion, and potatoes to the broth. Bring it to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes (covered) or until tender. Add beets and carrots and tomato paste and salt and pepper to taste.
- Finally, serve in warmed bowls with a dollop of sour cream and a lemon wedge.
2. Beetroot Salad Recipe
What You Need
- 5 to 6 medium beets
- ¼ cup of extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar
- ½ teaspoon of honey
- ½ teaspoon of Dijon mustard
- ½ teaspoon of salt
- 1 finely chopped large shallot
- 1 finely chopped celery stalk
- Freshly ground pepper, for taste (as desired)
- Preheat the oven to 204o. Divide the beets between two pieces of foil and bring the edges together. Crimp to make packets. Roast until the beets are tender or for about 1 ¼ hours. Unwrap the beets and let them cool.
- While the beets cool down, whisk the oil, vinegar, honey, mustard, salt, and pepper in a small bowl to make the dressing.
- After the beets have cooled down, remove the skins. Cut them into ½-inch cubes and place them in a large bowl. Add shallot and celery and the dressing. Toss to coat properly.
- Serve chilled or at room temperature.
3. Beetroot Smoothie Recipe
What You Need
- 1 red beet, small, trimmed and peeled
- 1 large apple, cored
- 1 stalk of celery
- 1 cup of almond milk
- 1 cup of carrot juice
- 2/3 cup of frozen sliced peaches
- 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and sliced
- Roughly chop the beet, apple, and celery.
- Add all the ingredients to a blender and mix until smooth. You can also taste the smoothie to ensure if the sweetness is to your liking. If not, you can add a little more of the fruit.
- Serve chilled. You can store the smoothie in a jar for up to 2 days.
There are a few other delectable beet juices you can try –
- Simple green and red beet juice
- Beet-ginger juice
- Beet and pineapple delight
Not just with respect to benefits, but also in terms of ‘being cool,’ beets are way ahead. Like the super cool beet facts you will read now.
Super Cool Beetroot Facts
- Beetroot was initially cultivated around 2000 BC in the Mediterranean region.
- When harvested, the entire plant is edible.
- The biggest beet in the world was owned by a Dutchman, and it weighed over 70 kilos.
- Beetroot juice is one of the richest natural sources of antioxidants and dietary nitrates.
- You can use beet juice to measure acidity. The juice turns pink when added to an acidic solution, and turns yellow when added to an alkali.
- There is a belief persisting in several cultures that a man and a woman eating from the same beetroot are bound to fall in love with each other.
- Boiling beets in water and massaging the water into your scalp each night can be a great cure for dandruff.
- Eating too much of beets can turn your urine red. Even more of the vegetable can turn your stools red. (Guess this is not so super cool!)
Other Uses Of Beetroot
You can use beets to dye your hair. If you are a hairstyle/hair color aficionado, this could be for you.
We have seen how to include beets in your diet. But how about including them in your beauty routine as well?
- One routine you can try is the beet, rose, and black tea hair rinse. The procedure is simple. Take one cup of beet juice, and half a cup each of rose water and black tea. Mix them and massage it directly on your scalp. Work this treatment from the ends to the roots of your hair. Leave it on for about 10 minutes and then rinse well. The black tea in the rinse is loaded with tannin’s (that help in the dyeing process) and antioxidants (that are great for hair and scalp health).
- You can also use beet green juice for the same purpose as beets. Beet greens are powerful cleansers. They cleanse the blood and kidneys – which is another reason they are a must-have. However, ensure you consume it in moderation.
- Beetroot powder has its uses too. You can use the powder in your soups for some variation in taste. You can also add the powder to curries or gravies to up their nutritional value. Use the powder as a dry coating to snacks or food colorant.
- You can also make your own organic powder blush, minus the chemicals. Make a simple hair dye by mixing beet powder with henna and applying it to your tresses.
All you need to do is wash the beetroot thoroughly first. Boil, bake, or steam it. Cut the tops of the beet and discard them. Shred the beet. Next, dehydrate the beetroot (a temperature of 60o C is fine). You can use a dehydrator or an oven for this purpose (it must take 8-10 hours). Dehydrating in the sun is a bad idea as the process might take days.
Once done, grind the dehydrated beet in a food processor. Your beet powder is ready!
A couple of very important questions. One, beet juice or cooked beets – which one to go for?
Betalains and other nutrients are usually lost in the cooking process. In this context, juicing is better. But cooked beets usually contain more fiber than beet juice – as much of the fiber is filtered in the juicing process. The best way to go about it is by having beet juice with the pulp.
And two, beet juice or beet supplement – which is better?
In terms of comfort, beet supplement is probably better because all you need to do is pop a pill (or add the powder to your food, if it’s a powdered supplement). Also, a beet supplement is far lower in calories as compared to beet juice. But the beet supplement might also be lower in carbs and fat (which could be good news) and protein (bad news).
In terms of nutrients or nitrates, both are similar. And in terms of sugar, the juice is on the higher end. But otherwise, there is no drastic difference between the two. If you are more on the move and literally can’t make time to prepare juice out of beets, go for the supplement, else opt for the juice.
This was about the health benefits of beets. Let us now take a look at the side effects.
Beetroot Side Effects
- May Cause Kidney Stones
Beets and beet greens are high in oxalate, and as per research, such foods can reduce the absorption of calcium. Consuming high amounts of oxalate can also cause kidney stones.
- Pregnancy And Breastfeeding
There is not enough information in this regard, especially with respect to using beets in large medicinal amounts. Stay safe and stick to food amounts.
- Drug Interactions
Vitamin K can interact with warfarin, an anticoagulant medication. Though the amount of vitamin K in beets is not so high to interfere with warfarin, it is not the case with beet greens as they are high in vitamin K (51).
Beets are chock-full of other nutrients like iron, manganese, copper, potassium, and magnesium – all of which have their individual benefits. Raw beets also have terrific benefits – one of them being the ability to prevent cancer.
Beet juice can be healthy as well. Just 200 ml of the juice a day is all you need to reap its benefits. The juice also has a higher concentration of betalains. However, cooked beets contain more fiber. But you can include both in your diet; while beets offer the crunch, the juice seems to contain all the nutrients that might otherwise be lost in the process of cooking (and is easier to digest as well).