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Summer is the perfect time to head to the farmer’s market since stall after stall has gorgeous fruits and vegetables to offer.
In fact, my family and I love to spend Saturday morning browsing the stands to grab all of the produce we need for the upcoming week.
But, there’s one vegetable I’ve noticed a lot of people ignore, and if you’re one of them, you’re missing out on some big health benefits and great taste in the process.
What vegetable am I talking about?
If you haven’t embraced beets, you may not know how to incorporate them into your meal planning. So, let me help you there… but first, here’s why you should eat more…
#1 – Huge amounts of nutrients in one small package
We all know that vitamins and minerals help keep us healthy and ward off chronic disease. And, the beet packs a big punch when it comes to these critical nutrients with less than three ounces of the cooked vegetable delivering:
- Folate – 68 mcg equal to 17 percent of the RDA
- Manganese – 0.3 mg or 14 percent of the RDA
- Vitamin C – 3.1 mg or 5 percent of the RDA
- Potassium – 259 mg or 7 percent of the RDA
- Magnesium – 19.6 mg or 5 percent of the RDA
- Iron – 7 mg or 4 percent of the RDA
And, that same small serving gives you 4 grams of protein and 1.7 grams of fiber.
#2 – Supports healthy blood pressure
In addition to all of those vitamins and minerals that help keep you strong and feeling great, beets are also packed with heart-healthy nitrates. These nitrates boost the production of nitric oxide (NO) in the lining of your blood vessels which allows them to dilate or widen.
When this happens your blood can flow more freely, without your heart having to work so hard to pump your blood throughout your body, making beets one of the healthiest things you can do for your blood pressure.
In fact, scientific studies have shown that beets alone may have the power to lower your blood pressure by up to 10 mm Hg in just a few hours.
In the past, I’ve written about the confusion over good nitrates and bad nitrates — so let me clarify that again: You’ve probably heard of nitrate additives in processed meats being linked to cancer. That’s a totally different ballgame, and here’s why…
You see, organic or naturally-occurring nitrates, when ingested from eating plants that contain them (like beets), help the body produce NO — a compound that acts as a natural vasodilator, by helping to relax and dilate the blood vessels and arteries in your body — as I explained above.
So, eat less of the meats and more beets!
#3 – Major anti-inflammation properties
Have you heard of the inflammation theory of disease? Inflammation is widely accepted as the root cause of multiple chronic health problems, from obesity and metabolic syndrome to heart and liver disease. And, beets could be the answer to the problem thanks to the pigments that help give them their gorgeous color.
These pigments, known as betalains, support a balanced inflammatory response to promote healthy inflammation levels. One study even found that a capsule of these pigments made from beetroot had the power to ease the discomfort caused by osteoarthritis — most likely thanks to their effect on inflammation levels.
Adding beets to your diet
With these health benefits, it’s easy to see why you should be adding beets to your diet this summer while they’re plentiful at the farmer’s market.
If you haven’t cooked with beets before, one of the best ways to do it is to roast them. Drizzle them with olive oil, add a dash of salt, pepper, and thyme and put them in the oven at 425° for 30 – 40 minutes or until fork-tender. You can also do beets on the grill or simmer them on the stove with butter and orange juice.
Need an even easier option? Look for a tasty organic beet powder you can add to smoothies, juice and even water.
Editor’s note: There are numerous safe and natural ways to decrease your risk of blood clots including the 25-cent vitamin, the nutrient that acts as a natural blood thinner and the powerful herb that helps clear plaque. To discover these and more, click here for Hushed Up Natural Heart Cures and Common Misconceptions of Popular Heart Treatments!
- Beets, cooked, boiled, drained Nutrition Facts & Calories — SELF Nutrition Data
- Inorganic nitrate is a possible source for systemic generation of nitric oxide — Free Radical Biology and Medicine
- Effect of beetroot juice on lowering blood pressure in free-living, disease-free adults: a randomized, placebo-controlled trial — Nutrition
- Acute ingestion of beetroot bread increases endothelium-independent vasodilation and lowers diastolic blood pressure in healthy men: a randomized controlled trial — Journal of Nutrition
- Acute blood pressure lowering, vasoprotective, and antiplatelet properties of dietary nitrate via bioconversion to nitrite — Hypertension
- Inflammation: A unifying theory of disease — Harvard Health
- Chronic Inflammation in Obesity and the Metabolic Syndrome — Mediators of Inflammation
- Beetroot (Beta vulgaris L.) Extract Ameliorates Gentamicin-Induced Nephrotoxicity Associated Oxidative Stress, Inflammation, and Apoptosis in Rodent Model — Mediators of Inflammation
- Betanin attenuates oxidative stress and inflammatory reaction in kidney of paraquat-treated rat — Food and Chemical Toxicology
- Improvement of hypertension, endothelial function and systemic inflammation following short-term supplementation with red beet (Beta vulgaris L.) juice: a randomized crossover pilot study — Journal of Human Hypertension
- Betalain-rich red beet concentrate improves reduced knee discomfort and joint function: a double blind, placebo-controlled pilot clinical study — Nutrition and Dietary Supplements