We’ve all heard that we need to eat our vegetables. From kale crazies to carrot connoisseurs, everyone has a favourite veg that they swear by. We’re not all so easily persuaded by the idea of vitamins and eating a rainbow diet though (gummy bear vitamins have that covered, right?), so if you have eat one thing that grows in the ground to beat the buzz we have the answer: beets.
- BLOOD WORK
They’re good for your blood; or to be more specific, your blood does good things with them. Beets have one of the highest naturally occurring level of nitrates (about 436mg in 500g which is approximately 3 cups), which our body coverts into nitric oxide. The nitric oxides in beets help to improve blood and oxygen flow in muscles, loosen stiff veins, and lower blood pressure .
Our body produces nitric oxide when it is experiencing healthy heart conditions such as exercising, or low cholesterol. It opens up our blood vessels (these opening mechanisms are called “good” eicosanoids) increasing blood flow while decreasing plaque growth and blood clotting. When it’s easier for our body to pump blood through us our heart doesn’t have to work as hard, lowering the risk of heart disease and letting our body concentrate its energy more efficiently.
They’re the best workout supplement. Because they produce so much nitric oxide in our bodies which opens up our veins, it also increases oxygen and blood flow to muscles. This results in increased recovery rates by helping to relax the smooth muscles in the body and send more vitamins and nutrients to the working muscles. Beet’s don’t contain all the proteins, sugars, and carbs needed to complete and recover from a full work out, but they can provide a better vessel in your body to get all of the pre- and post-work out substances your body needs to the places it needs/
The extra oxygen that is brought into your muscles is used to break down fats and glucose which is where they get energy. Beets have natural sugars in them, providing more glucose to convert, and it’s been proved that those with higher levels of nitrate oxide also have “higher glucose rate of appearance, glucose rate of disappearance, and glucose clearance rate.” So when you eat beets, you burn sugars faster resulting in more energy spent on burning fats.
Rise and Shine! Beets help to reduce fatigue, too. By increasing the amount of oxygen in your blood flow, you gain more energy from the converting of fats and glucose in the muscles that it allows.
The nitrate oxide that beets provide also helps to maintain your core body temperature. During hard work outs – or if you’re me, walking up a hill – your body temperature rises and to prevent overheating, your body uses energy to cool the tissues. Optimal blood flow helps with this process leaving your body with more energy reserved.
- BRAIN FUNCTION
Your brain is also a muscle, so naturally blood flow is increased there too. This has been proven to help fight dementia and increase general cognitive function. While it’s not a long term fix, and your brain still needs to be active and challenged, beets provide an almost instant boost to cognitive function – particularly in the prefrontal cortex which is responsible for personality expression, decision making, and moderating social behaviour.
Getting enough oxygen to your brain is essential for focus and function. The more oxygen in your blood, the more oxygen is being sent to your brain, the more power it has. Your brain – although only 2% of your body mass – uses about 25% of blood flow. As well as enough oxygen, the brain also needs sufficient amounts of glucose which is also provided in beets making it one of the ultimate brain foods.
Endurance is yet another great benefit of beets. The nitric oxide that your body converts also helps with fatigue in not only strength, but also endurance. You can go for longer in your workout routine, but also in your day to day life without burning out. So whether your super man, or super mom, beet juice will help you get more of your errands done and problems solved.
Beets are anti-inflammatory. Which means that all the things we try and avoid (wrinkles, arthritis, diabetes, chronic pain, heart disease, and cancers) are put off track. Because chronic stress is prevalent in the modern world inflammation is always present in our body as we try and attack it. This is suggesting, by way of anti-inflammatory, that beets are also a destresser by taking away that extra work our body always has to put it. It’s been known to also reduce tumour sizes with this property which makes in a contestant in beating cancer.
Beets are full of antioxidants. These guys take your body into level 2 detox. By binding unwanted toxic substances chemically to a small nutrient group, the toxin is neutralized and becomes water soluble. Your body can then excrete these toxins through urine, or bile.
Because toxins like to bind with fatty substances, it makes them hard to get rid of and they end up residing in the most undesirable places in our bodies i.e. the brain. When we burn these fats the toxins are then released and eliminated. Because beets help our bodies burn sugars faster and give us more time to burn fats, even without having to make them water soluble we can rid ourselves of them. The cherry on top is that beets can be used in baking, so essentially you could detox with a chocolate cupcake!
As well as helping you maintain energy, beets can also help you get a better sleep. Nitric oxide as well as magnesium have been proven to be an essential part of a regular sleep pattern. Low levels of either, but particularly both can result in a bought of insomnia, in which a vicious circle is created; less sleep, less energy, less converting and creating of these two substances, less sleep. This can affect cognitive brain function, mood levels, energy levels, and ability to concentrate.
Beets contain about 31mg of magnesium per 1 cup serving. On average, a person needs 300-500mg of magnesium per day and the body contains about 25g of it. While beets aren’t saturated in magnesium, 1 cup has about 7-10% of your daily serving and it’s found in most foods that we consume.
Beet is the viagra of veg. Increased blood flow in your whole body includes the nether regions, which is one of the mechanisms of viagra. Mixed with the relaxing tryptophan, and high traces of boron (which is directly related to the production of human sex hormones) you’ve got yourself a sweet, red ticket to bed with your sweetie.
Good blood circulation also helps with things like flexibility. Not only will you be able to get it up, you’ll also have a wider range of movements, more endurance, and more energy. Who knew (consuming) a vegetable would make hump day more fun?
- MENTAL HEALTH
If you suffer from depression or anxiety then beets may be a good thing to add into your diet. They are rich in betalains which have been used in treatments for depression. They also contain tryptophan which acts similarly to chocolate by relaxing the mind and creating a sense of well-being.
With increased blood flow, your heart rate lowers make anxiety attacks easier to stave off and if you suffer from symptoms like tingling, numbness, or cold hands and feet (like those with panic disorder might) the increased circulation will help warm up these extremities. Improved cognitive function also makes it easier to keep calm, rational thought patterns and keep extreme emotions grounded.
Written by Forest Greenwell