Beets are a sweet, deeply red root vegetable that can be eaten raw, juiced, boiled, roasted, or even pickled. But there’s probably a lot you don’t know about beets.
In the past few years, science has confirmed several fascinating body benefits originating in the complex compounds which give beets their shocking red hue.
Another fun fact: did you know beet juice can replace road salt, keeping drivers safe while reducing the harmful effects of salt on the environment? This little red root is packed with power!
Check out the nitty-gritty on their perks, then scroll down to try three easy beet recipes.
Lower Blood Pressure
In a recent double-blind study, researchers confirmed that beet juice has a powerful effect on blood pressure. Fifteen men and fifteen women were each given 500mL (about 16oz.) of beet-apple juice. Then, they wore a heart monitor for two weeks.
The results showed that beet juice reduces systolic blood pressure in men, even without changing their exercise habits.
Beet juice (unlike cooked beets) has a high nitric oxide content which improves blood circulation by relaxing blood vessels. Because of this, we’ve included a recipe for a healing beet-apple juice below.
Heart and Organ Health
Beets contain a key amino acid called betaine. A 2008 study of over 16,000 women found that high dietary betaine intake was linked to lower LDL cholesterol levels.
Additionally, betaine effectively lowers homocysteine (an amino acid which has been linked to cardiovascular disease when in high levels) in both men and women immediately and for a long-term basis.
Endurance, Energy, and Sex
Beets contain two compounds that fuel your physical energy and maintain your stamina. First, they are a natural source of sugar and carbohydrates, which your body converts into energy. Secondly, they provide nitrates, which make your muscles more efficient.
It does this by lowering blood pressure, and by allowing them to do more with less oxygen4 (This is the same as previously mentioned- nitric oxide relaxes your blood vessels, improves your blood flow and thus helps improve sex drive).
You’ll notice these benefits in the bedroom: beets have been considered an aphrodisiac since ancient times. Beets contain boron, making your body produce more sex hormones.5
Vitamin K and A: Better Heart, Bones, Liver, and Eyes
Beets, especially their dark green leafy tops, are an excellent source of vitamin K. In fact, one cup of beet greens delivers %190 of your daily recommended vitamin K!
K plays a role all around the body: it’s part of how your body manages calcium, keeping it out of your arteries and using it to build bones instead, and it also helps improve blood clotting and stop bleeding.
Beets also provide beta-carotene. Also found in carrots, your body converts beta-carotene into vitamin A, which is retinol.(you may have heard of retinol in skin care products, especially anti-aging creams.) Retinol protects your skin and eyes and is an antioxidant.
Beet Bonus: Three must-try recipes
This recipe comes from minimalistbaker.com. We love how it allows you to get the benefits of drinking beet juice, even if you don’t have a juicer at home.
Prep time: 10 mins
Total time: 10 mins
A simple recipe for making juice without a juicer. Plenty of health benefits and a delicious flavor come from carrots, apple, beets and ginger.
- 1 beet, rinsed, lightly peeled and quartered
- 1 apple, peeled, cored and quartered
- 1 Tbsp size piece of fresh ginger (skin removed)
- 3 whole carrots, rinsed and peeled
- unfiltered apple juice (optional)
- Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth, adding a splash of apple juice if needed to get it moving. I probably added about 1/4 cup.
- Then, place a fine mesh strainer over a large bowl and pour the juice over. Use a rubber spatula to press the pulp down and squeeze all of the juice out. Let stand for 5 minutes so you get most of the juice.
- Discard pulp and pour your juice into a serving glass. Drink immediately or chill for a bit. Will keep in the fridge for a day or so, but will taste best when fresh.
This recipe comes from Ina Garten at foodnetwork.com. It’s good to know: beets can be pretty intimidating at first. Once you’ve tried the basics, you’ll feel more comfortable using them in your weeknight dinners.
- 12 beets
- 3 tablespoons good olive oil
- 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, minced
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons raspberry vinegar
- Juice of 1 large orange
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Remove the tops and the roots of the beets and peel each one with a vegetable peeler.
- Cut the beets into 1 1/2-inch chunks. (Small beets can be halved, medium ones cut into quarters, and large beets cut into eighths.)
- Place the cut beets on a baking sheet and toss with the olive oil, thyme leaves, salt, and pepper.
- Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, turning once or twice with a spatula until the beets are tender.
- Remove from the oven and immediately toss with the vinegar and orange juice.
- Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve warm.
Crunchy Beetroot Slaw
This recipe is taken from BBCgoodfood.com. It’s good to eat vegetables raw when you can, so that nutritional value isn’t lost to the boiling water or denatured by heat.
- 3 cups beetroot, peeled and grated
- 4 cups carrots, peeled and grated
- 1 bunch spring onion, finely sliced
- 1/3 cup cashews
- 1 small container coconut yogurt
- 1 tsp raw honey
- pinch each chili and ginger powder
- Fix the rough grating blade to your food processor. Peel and grate the beetroots and carrots.
- Tip into a bowl and stir in the spring onions and nuts. Mix the yogurt, honey, chili and ginger. Serve each portion of slaw drizzled with a little dressing.