Beets are truly a gift from Mother Earth. Gorgeous in color and strong in flavor this root vegetable is rich in nutrients absorbed right out of the soil like folate, potassium, fiber, and iron. Beets are like Clark Kent with a super hero hidden inside of a common exterior. Rich in antioxidant capacity and anti-inflammatory, root veggies have what it takes to fight off the bad guys.
What’s the big deal with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory foods? Well, antioxidants have protective properties that can alleviate damage to tissues. You’ve likely seen oxidation in action when leafy greens blacken or guacamole turns to an unfortunate shade of green. Vitamin C happens to be a reducing agent so a squeeze of lime juice can halt the reaction. Therefore, if we eat a diet rich in antioxidants we reduce the damaging effects of oxidation on our tissues.
Inflammation is a protective reaction from injured tissues that we recognize by the feeling of pain, redness, and swelling. A poor diet low in nutritional value, excess body fat, and lack of physical activity can worsen symptoms. A 2016 study found that foods with a high antioxidant capacity reduces the risk of non-communicable chronic diseases. Such foods include beets, collard greens, beans, onions, lettuce, and coffee. Eat a variety of these foods in combination with resistance training for maximum cardio benefit.
Beets are currently a popular topic when it comes to athletic ability and natural performance enhancement with dozens of studies finding cardiovascular benefit. Beets naturally contain nitrate (NO3) which protects against heart disease, increases blood flow, and may boost athletic performance, which has been studied with particular interest in endurance athletes.
The body converts nitrate to nitric oxide, which is a compound that has the ability to widen blood vessels, allowing cells to use oxygen more efficiently. This would be an excellent reason for runners, cyclists, and other endurance athletes to take interest in concentrated beet juice! You don’t need to be a well-trained athlete or even consider yourself fit to give beets a chance as an energy enhancer and stamina booster, which are qualities that most people would happily embrace and another great reason to have a diet rich in veggies.
1 cup of beets = 60 calories, 0g fat, 13g carbohydrate, 4g fiber, 2g protein