If you’re looking for a superfood to add to your diet – a superfood that boosts athletic performance, reduces the risk of dementia, and helps you lose weight – well, look no further! Beets are the perfect superfood to add to your diet as soon as possible.
Beets? Those purply things that always go untouched in every salad bar? Yep, that’s right. But don’t let your first impressions fool you – beets have a ton of health benefits and you can easily include them in your diet in a lot of fun (and delicious) ways.
The “earthy” taste of beets does tend to steer people away. But before you cross beets off your shopping list, just take a look at everything that beets can do for you.
Beets are super low-calorie, but full of vitamins and minerals. Eating beets can help prevent heart disease by lowering your blood pressure, they keep your brain healthy, and they can even improve your athletic performance.
High blood pressure is one of the biggest risk factors for developing heart disease. So, to keep your heart healthy, monitoring your blood pressure is essential.
Studies have shown that beets actually lower blood pressure – in just a few hours. It’s most likely due to the fact that beets are packed with nitrates.
“Beets contain nitrates, which the body converts into nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is a vasodilator that relaxes and widens blood vessels, which can lower blood pressure,” says doctor Dana Hunnes, senior dietitian at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center.” (1)
Nitrates don’t just lower your blood pressure. They can also boost athletic performance. Studies about beet juice and exercise have shown that the nitrate in beets lets you run farther and work out longer without feeling fatigued.
Andrew Jones, a researcher who led one of the beets studies, found that beet juice made athletes’ muscles more efficient, because the athletes who drank beet juice needed less oxygen to work out than those that drank the placebo. (2)
Other studies found that beet juice helped athletes make faster decisions and increased their sprinting speed and acceleration. And while beets work great for more professional athletes, researchers also found that the benefits might be even more noticeable in non-professional athletes.
It turns out that a little can go a long way. Jones says that drinking “about 70 milliliters of beet juice per day for a week leading up to a competition, including the morning of, seems to be the most effective for athletes.” (2) That’s the equivalent of about 1/3 cup of beet juice every day.
Besides helping your muscles work the best they can, beets also help your brain. They increase blood flow to the brain – especially to the frontal lobe, where decision making and working memory happens.
The nitrates in beets also improve cognitive function and can reduce the risk of dementia. One beet juice study showed beet juice’s effect on the brain. Researchers said that “the MRIs showed that after eating a high-nitrate diet, the older adults had increased blood flow to the white matter of the frontal lobes — the areas of the brain commonly associated with degeneration that leads to dementia and other cognitive conditions.” (3)
Eating the right amount of fruits and vegetables is essential for weight loss. But, it’s not just how much you eat that’s important – when it comes to weight loss, quality is just as important as quantity. And, if you’re looking for quality, beets are one of the most nutritious vegetables you can add to your diet.
One cup of beets has less than 60 calories and it’s packed with fiber. Doctor Hunnes says, “beets are rich in water content and fiber. This can help keep you fuller longer and better hydrated, which can also help with feeling full.” (1)
Now before you run out the door to go buy some beets – here are some easy recipes to help get you started. Beets can have a somewhat dirt-like taste if you eat them raw, but if you prepare them well, you’ll find that beets aren’t just nutritious, they’re delicious!
Personally, I like to buy pre-cooked beets from my local supermarket (they usually come in a kind of vacuum-packed plastic). To prepare them, I just wash them, then cut them up, sprinkle them with salt, then squeeze half of a lime over the top while I mix it around. The lime adds a special touch that adds to the rich natural flavor of the beets. They are a great side dish to any meal – and they combine especially well with roasted turkey or chicken.
Another great way to eat beets is by adding them to a smoothie, or juicing them. Just Beet It has a great immune boosting beet juice recipe that you can easily try today. It has just 4 ingredients and is super easy to make:
Cut up the beets, apples and ginger and put them in the juicer. Add the lime at the end and mix it up. Add some ice and enjoy! (4)
Chloe Paddison, registered dietitian, says, “beets naturally have a sweetness to them. Puréed beets can create a hummus-like dip. Cubed beets are great with goat cheese and pecans, a good flavor and texture combination.” (5) Just do a quick search and you’ll discover that there are millions of creative ways to add beets to your diet!
Whether you decide to add beets to your salad, drink straight beet juice, or add them to your morning smoothies, you’ll quickly feel the benefits of beets in your diet. They are a superfood that you don’t want to miss out on. Try adding some beets to your diet today!