Health Benefits of Beets + Beet Salad with Goat Cheese Recipe

 
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Beets are a root vegetable that are typically known for their dark red color. They get their magnificent reddish hue from betacyanin, a plant pigment which is also a potent antioxidant. Other varieties of beets also exist such as white, yellow, and golden. Flavor and nutrients vary depending on the color of the beet.

The leaves of beets (or beet greens) can also be eaten either raw or cooked. When raw, they can be used like any green to make salads. They can also be used in smoothies or as garnish. Cooked beet greens make for nice additions to stir-fries or soups. You can also buy powdered beets that you could add to shakes and smoothies for a potent antioxidant punch.

Beets are a source of folate, vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, iron and potassium. They also contain some protein and a good amount of fiber. Given their rich nutrient composition, beets have some fantastic health benefits that will make you want to include them as a regular staple in your diet. 

10 Beet Benefits 

1) Anti-Cancer Properties

Beets contain powerful anti-cancer and antioxidant properties. The phytonutrients in beets called betalains have been shown to help protect the body from developing cancers such as lung, stomach, colon, and breast. As we shall see, beets also help with detoxification which helps to rid the body of potential toxins that could lead to cancer.

Cancer prevention studies have also demonstrated that the extract of red beetroot can be effective in suppressing the development of multi-organ tumors in experimental animals. One study compared red beetroot extract with the anti-cancer drug doxorubicin (adriamycin) on prostate cancer cells and in estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer cells. It found that beets had similar effects to chemotherapy in decreasing tumor growth. 

2) Anti-inflammatorY Properties

Beets contain betaine compounds which work to fight off inflammation. Inflammation is at the heart of most chronic health conditions. Inflammation is implicated in diseases like cancer, heart disease, and autoimmune conditions. It also causes pain and irritation within the body especially with rheumatoid and osteoarthritis. 

3) Detoxification

Beets contain glutathione, which is essential for detoxification within the liver and other digestive organs. Glutathione is also referred to as the "master antioxidant." It neutralizes toxins and makes them water-soluble, allowing them to be exerted through urine and flushed out of the body. The betaine in beets also can help prevent and reduce the accumulation of fat in the liver. The liver is our body's main organ of detoxification.

4) Cardiovascular Health

The high folate content in beets helps to break up homocysteine, a blood protein linked to heart disease and atherosclerosis. A study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that beets lowered LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels and helped to raise HDL ("good") cholesterol. Beets have been shown to lower blood pressure as well because they contain natural nitrates which encourage good circulation and relaxed vessels. 

5) Improved Brain Function

The nitrates in beets are thought to encourage blood flow to the brain as well. One study showed that blood flow increased to the frontal lobe, a region known to be involved with executive functioning skills like focus, organization, and attention to detail. The folate in beets may help delay dementia. Beet greens also contain a substantial amount of vitamin K which may protect against Alzheimer's.

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6) Eye Health

The carotenoids in beets make them a superfood for ocular health. Carotenoids include lutein, zeaxanthin, and beta-carotene. Beets have been shown to help prevent both macular degeneration and cataracts. Lutein is the yellow pigment that protects against certain eye diseases. Lutein (and vitamins A and C) can help prevent glaucoma by keeping eye pressure low. Zeaxanthin helps macular degeneration. Beta-carotene has been shown to protect corneal health and to promote good eyesight in general. 

7) Regularity

Beets are high in fiber. A cup of beets contains at least 4 grams of fiber. This amount of fiber is helpful in reducing constipation. It helps to sweep the digestive tract of waste and toxins while restoring healthy and regular bowel movements. Beets' insoluble fiber helps reduce the risk of hemorrhoids and diverticulitis, too. The betaine found in beets has also been shown to improve digestion in general.

8) Improved Skin

Beets are rich in folate and antioxidants. In studies, these were shown to decrease the depth and severity of skin wrinkles by 60%. Beets stimulate the production and repair of cells, which helps protect against premature aging.

Applied topically, beet juice can be beneficial. Beets can be pureed or blended and strained to get the juice. Topical treatments can also help reduce fine lines, limit blemishes, even out skin tone, and moisturize. Just dab some juice onto your face with a cotton ball. Leave it on for 10 minutes, then wash it off with a mild face wash.

9) physical Endurance

The natural nitrates in beets are known to boost energy and athletic performance and endurance. (These are not the "harmful" nitrates often associated with deli meat or cured meat products.) One study found that beets helped improve running stamina. Another study found that cyclists improved their times when they supplemented with beetroot juice. So it appears that eating beets may help with energy levels because their natural nitrates convert to nitric oxide, which can increase oxygen delivery to the body.

10) Sex Drive

Beets have been considered an aphrodisiac in some cultures for many years. In much the same way that beets help with athletic endurance, they can also improve sex drive and performance in the bedroom. This is due to increased blood flow to the reproductive organs. Beets also contain high amounts of boron, a trace mineral that increases the level of sex hormones in the human body.

Beet Salad with Goat Cheese

This salad is truly delicious. I'd eaten a similar one at a local restaurant and just loved it, so I looked for a recipe to replicate the same flavors. This one comes very close. Even if you don't like beets, I think you'll find the combination of flavors one that is not only highly palatable but actually craveable. 

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