Beets are not only useful in adding vibrant red color to your salads and smoothies, they also have medicinal value. Read on to find out more about the medical value of beets and some of the many health conditions which can be managed using this vegetable.
Beets have often been described as a must have vegetable for weight watchers and athletes. The very same properties useful to these groups of people are used to treat or manage many health conditions. As a doctor, I never hesitate to recommend beets for natural healing.
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Medicinal Value of Beets
Beets are most commonly mentioned as a healthy ingredient in salads, juices and smoothies consumed by people who simply want to stay well and healthy. Rarely do you hear about the medical value of beets.This dark red vegetable is used to treat and manage various health conditions. Here are some conditions which can be treated or managed using beets.
Beets are rich in dietary nitrates which raise the levels of nitric oxide in the blood. This gas makes blood vessels expand which increases blood flow and lowers blood pressure. Research shows that eating 2 medium sized beets or drinking one glass of beet juice can lower blood pressure levels by 4 to 5 mmHg. This effect is highest about 3 hours after consuming beets or beet products.
Chronic constipation is characterized by difficulty in passing stool, infrequent bowel movements and a feeling of incomplete evacuation of bowel contents. Typical symptoms of this condition are less than 3 bowel movements per week and pain when passing stool. It is usually treated using chemical laxatives though beets are also very effective because they are very high in fibre. Fibre helps to increase the speed of movement of food along the digestive tract, which essentially relieves the symptoms of constipation.
Inflammation is an automatic immune response to wounds, infections or any kind of damage to tissue. It is a sign that the body is trying to heal itself. In fact, without inflammation the body would not be able to repair itself. Chronic inflammation is experienced in rheumatoid arthritis and some cancers and can be extremely painful. Folate, fibre and betalains (plant pigments) help relieve all kinds of inflammation and have been used to manage pain caused by arthritis, kidney inflammation and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD.)
Brain Cell Degeneration
Age-related diseases like Alzheimer’s disease are linked to reduced blood flow and oxygenation of brain cells. Nitrates contained in beets help to improve blood circulation to the entire body including the somatomotor cortex,the brain area usually affected in the early stages of dementia. Nitric oxide derived from beets also helps to increase efficiency of communication between brain cells.
Obesity has for years been seen as a choice of the well to do. In 2013, the American Medical Association declared obesity a disease. It is characterized by excess body weight and body fat which affects a person’s health. Beets are very rich in a group of antioxidants called betalains. Antioxidants help to prevent oxidation of bad cholesterol which would otherwise be stored as fat.
Beets are also very high in fibre content. It is the fibre in raw foods that makes one feel full so you will not feel the urge to eat much after a bowl of beet salad.
Anemia is a fairly common deficiency condition caused by a lack of iron, which causes a decreased number of circulating red blood cells. It is the most common blood disorder in the world and affects an estimated 24.8 percent of the world’s population. Beets are very rich in iron which is the body’s raw material for manufacture of red blood cells.
Diabetes is a condition in which your blood sugar levels are abnormally high. Insulin is a hormone which is supposed to regulate blood sugar levels. In type 2 diabetes, which the most common type of diabetes, the body does not make or respond to insulin well. Beets contain an antioxidant called alpha-lipoic acid which could help lower glucose levels. It may also increase the body’s sensitivity to insulin and prevent oxidative stress-induced changes in diabetics.
The body is constantly renewing bone tissue, replacing old, damaged tissue with new, strong bone tissue. This way bone density and strength is maintained. Osteoporosis(literally meaning porous bone) is a condition in which bone density decreases and the body no longer renews bone tissue as efficiently as before. Beets contain calcium which is an essential mineral for strong bones and teeth. They are also rich in manganese which helps prevent loss of bone density.
Spina bifida is a birth defect in which the spine of a developing fetus does not develop properly while in the womb. It is caused by a lack of sufficient folic acid before and during pregnancy. Children born with this condition have bladder and bowel control problems, poor ability to walk, a tethered spinal cord or accumulation of fluid in the brain (hydrocephalus). Beets are very rich in folic acid and are widely recommended for pregnant mothers throughout the pregnancy and even after delivery.
Whether you are eating beets to deal with slight constipation or to deal with more serious chronic diseases like hypertension and diabetes, natural medicine always outweighs chemical medications because it doesn’t cause any side effects. It is usually more cost effective. To maximize on the medical value of beets and benefits of natural healing, combine beets with other healthy fruits and vegetables with similar benefits for your specific condition. Be sure to consult a nutritionist for individualized advice on ideal combinations.
Can osteoporosis be cured?
It cannot be cured but it can be managed using drugs and various lifestyle approaches (including diet)
These two help slow the rate of bone loss and reduce chances of bone breaks.
Are beets safe for diabetics?
Yes. Beets contain a lot of fibre which is associated with better sugar control. Fibre slows down digestion which helps prevent spikes in blood sugar levels.
Can beets be used to manage cancer?
There isn’t enough evidence to make any conclusions. However, some studies have shown cancer cells reducing as a result of betalain pigment contained beets.
Will beets really help me lose weight?
Beets contain a lot of fibre which will keep you full for longer after eating them. You will not feel the urge to eat something for some time and this eventually reduces the amount of calories you consume.
How many calories are in one glass of beet juice?
You get about 43 calories per 100 grams of beets. You could measure the weight of the beets you use to make your juice to get an exact calorie count.