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What are the benefits of beets?

What are the benefits of beets?
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Did you know that traditionally, just the greens of beets were harvested and consumed (1)?  It wasn’t until the 19th century that the beetroot was recognized for its sweet taste and natural source of sugar (1). While beets do contain a relatively high level of carbohydrate and are traditionally labelled as a “use sparingly” vegetable, beets provide valuable health benefits, many of which are not found in other natural sources (1).

Beets for lower blood pressure

For individuals with high blood pressure, beets make a tasty and nutritious way to naturally lower blood pressure. One study revealed that just one glass of beetroot juice per day is sufficient to lead to a reduction in high blood pressure, even in individuals who were unable to manage their blood pressure through the use of medication (2).

It is thought that the naturally occurring inorganic nitrates contribute to the blood pressure lowering quality found in beets (2). The inorganic nitrates in beets work to relax the blood vessels, allowing them to dilate and pump more blood under less pressure (2).

In a 2014 study of dietary nitrates from beets in reducing blood pressure, it was found that the benefits of beets extended past reducing blood pressure; there was also a reduction in the stiffness of the artery by an estimated 10% (3). Healthy ranges of blood pressure and an absence of excessive artery stiffness have been linked to reduced risks of developing heart disease (2).

Boost your workouts with beets

One of the ingredients naturally found in beets may help to fuel workout sessions, allowing for a prolonged period of exercise before feeling fatigued (1). One study found that when beet juice was consumed prior to working out, participants were able to engage in exercise session durations for up to 16% longer, compared to the non-beet juice consuming condition (4). This benefit was found to be present for both low- and high-intensity physical exercise (4). Again, this benefit is thought to be attributed to the naturally occurring nitrates that convert to nitric oxide in the body, leading to a reduced oxygen cost during physical exercise (4).

Sources for this article include:
(1) articles.mercola.com
(2) www.medicalnewstoday.com
(3) www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
(4) jap.physiology.org

Image source: flic.kr

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