There’s a crazy amount of nutrition advice out there. Crazy as in a lot, and also crazy as in, well, insane (lookin’ at you, Carnivore Diet).
But one thing most people can agree on, it’s this: We should all be eating more plants. They’re rich in nutrients, low in calories, and generally easy to find (even 7-Eleven sells bananas next to the candy bars).
And when it comes to eating more plants, few offer a better bang for your buck than beets. Here are 5 reasons we’re eating more of them, and we think you should be, too.
1. Beets are nutrient dense
We hear this a lot. But with beets, it’s pretty amazing how many nutrients are packed into such a small 40 calorie bulb. Fiber, vitamin C, vitamin B6, magnesium, manganese, and iron are all part of the party. What’s astonishing, though, is that a 3 ounces of beets have 20% your daily recommended dose of folate. And that’s pretty important, because your body needs folate to do important stuff like creating genetic material and helping cells divide.
2. Beets are performance enhancers
In addition to the nutrients listed above, beets also contain nitrates. Your body converts these nutrient bad boys to nitric oxide, which dilates blood vessels. When it comes to sports performance, this usually translates to more strength and endurance (studies have found nitric oxide to improve cyclists’ oxygen use by up to 20%). And when it comes to nocturnal performance, let’s just say guys who eat beets enjoy a similar but… different performance boost.
3. Beets might be able to… beat inflammation
We crack ourselves up.
Really though, scientists believe beets could play a role in reducing chronic inflammation. That’s a big deal, because inflammation can be toxic to your body and contribute to a variety of adverse health conditions, ranging from asthma to cancer and obesity.
4. Beets may ward off mental decline
Remember those nitrates from #2 above? Turns out, it’s not just athletes and frisky couples who benefit from the Viagra-like dilation of blood vessels. More blood flow means increased oxygen delivery everywhere—including the brain, it seems. For a crazy-long and fascinating breakdown, visit this article on PubMed.
TL;DR – Mental decline is thought to be caused by an ever-decreasing flow of blood to the brain as we age, so the vasodilating effects of beets might mean better blood flow, healthier aging, and snappier comebacks to those pesky millennials.
5. Beets are being studied for anti-cancer properties
“Being studied” is the key phrase. As in, more research is needed. In test tube studies, beetroot extract has been shown to reduce the division and growth of tumor cells. TBD if the same applies to living humans.
Nevertheless, it’s exciting to think that yet another vegetable could be linked with anti-cancer properties. Kinda makes you want to eat more of them, doesn’t it?
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