Beets: Fight Inflammation & Lower Blood Pressure
(DetoxifySamurai) One of the most common and effective natural liver detoxifiers is the beet.
Beets are beneficial to one’s health for many reasons, as they are a high-antioxidant vegetable that contains a number of important substances, including: betaine, betalains, fiber, iron, betacyanin, folate, and betanin. Pectin, which is a fiber found in beets, can also help clean the toxins that have been removed from the liver, allowing them to be flushed out of the system instead of reabsorbed by the body. Because of this property, many medical professionals encourage individuals to eat beets raw without juicing them, so that these fibers can be ingested as completely as possible. This is not difficult, as they can be baked, grated, or roasted as well as eaten alone or incorporated into other dishes.
Beet juice can be highly beneficial, as it allows the betaine to stay intact. Betaine is the substance that encourages the liver cells to get rid of toxins. Additionally, betaine acts to defend the liver and bile ducts, which are important if the liver is to function properly. This particular substance is also said by some to decrease the risk of coronary and cerebral artery diseases, as it lowers inflammation in the body, allowing the many systems to work without interruption.
Additionally, beets have been linked to the healing of the liver, a decrease in homocysteine, an improvement in stomach acid production, prevention of the formation of free-radicals in LDL, and the prevention of lung, liver, skin, spleen, and colon cancer. Though these health benefits are not directly linked to the detoxification of the liver, they allow the body as a whole to work more efficiently. Because the systems of the body are all intertwined and rely upon one another to work properly, this indirectly affects the ability of the liver to rid itself of toxins and continue to work at an optimal level.
Although beets have the highest sugar content of all vegetables, most people can safely eat beet roots a few times a week (and their greens in unlimited quantities), enjoying not only their sweet, earthy flavor but also their powerhouse nutrients that may improve your health in the following ways.
1. Lower Your Blood Pressure
Drinking beet juice may help to lower blood pressure in a matter of hours. One study found that drinking one glass of beet juice lowered systolic blood pressure by an average of 4-5 points.
The benefit likely comes from the naturally occurring nitrates in beets, which are converted into nitric oxide in your body. Nitric oxide, in turn, helps to relax and dilate your blood vessels, improving blood flow and lowering blood pressure.
2. Boost Your Stamina
If you need a boost to make it through your next workout, beet juice may again prove valuable. Those who drank beet juice prior to exercise were able to exercise for up to 16 percent longer. The benefit is thought to also be related to nitrates turning into nitric oxide, which may reduce the oxygen cost of low-intensity exercise as well as enhance tolerance to high-intensity exercise.
3. Fight Inflammation
Beets are a unique source of betaine, a nutrient that helps protects cells, proteins, and enzymes from environmental stress. It’s also known to help fight inflammation, protect internal organs, improve vascular risk factors, enhance performance, and likely help prevent numerous chronic diseases. As reported by the World’s Healthiest Foods:
“[Betaine’s]… presence in our diet has been associated with lower levels of several inflammatory markers, including C reactive protein, interleukin-6, and tumor necrosis factor alpha. As a group, the anti-inflammatory molecules found in beets may eventually be shown to provide cardiovascular benefits in large-scale human studies, as well as anti-inflammatory benefits for other body systems.”
4. Anti-Cancer Properties
The powerful phytonutrients that give beets their deep crimson color may help to ward off cancer. Research has shown that beetroot extract reduced multi-organ tumor formations in various animal models when administered in drinking water, for instance, while beetroot extract is also being studied for use in treating human pancreatic, breast, and prostate cancers.7
5. Rich in Valuable Nutrients and Fiber
Beets are high in immune-boosting vitamin C, fiber, and essential minerals like potassium (essential for healthy nerve and muscle function) and manganese (which is good for your bones, liver, kidneys, and pancreas). Beets also contain the B vitamin folate, which helps reduce the risk of birth defects.
6. Detoxification Support
The betalin pigments in beets support your body’s Phase 2 detoxification process, which is when broken down toxins are bound to other molecules so they can be excreted from your body. Traditionally, beets are valued for their support in detoxification and helping to purify your blood and your liver.
If you simply throw away the green leafy tops to your beets, you’re doing yourself a disservice, as these are among the healthiest part of the plant.
Besides containing important nutrients like protein, phosphorus, zinc, fiber, vitamin B6, magnesium, potassium, copper, and manganese, beet greens also supply significant amounts of vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, and iron.
Beet greens actually have even more iron than spinach (another leafy green in the same botanical family) as well as a higher nutritional value overall than the beetroot itself. For more details, read “What Are Beet Greens Good For?” You may be surprised to learn, for instance, that research shows beet greens may:
- Help ward off osteoporosis by boosting bone strength
- Fight Alzheimer’s disease
- Strengthen your immune system by stimulating the production of antibodies and white blood cells
Beet greens can be added raw to vegetable juice or sautéed lightly right along with other greens like spinach and Swiss chard.
Mercola, J. “Benefits of Beets”, Jan. 5, 2014