Beet root (Beta vulgaris) is an herbaceous biennial or perennial plant belonging to the plant family Amaranthaceae-Chenopodiaceae. A number of varieties of the plant species are cultivated throughout the world, the most common of which are the red root or the garden root, spinach beet and the sugar beet. The cultivation of this species of plant dates back to the 2nd millennium BC in the Mediterranean regions and was later spread to Babylonia during the 8th century BC and then to the eastern regions during 850 AD. This became very popular in Europe during the 19th century and is still one of the most important commercial crops for the production of table sugar. In present times, some of the leading producers of beets for commercial purpose are the USA, the USSR, France, Germany, and Poland.
Health Benefits Of Eating Beets
- Adequate intake of beetroot can be used to fight against heart disease as they cause increase in the body HDL (high-density lipoprotein). It is believed that a rise in the HDL causes the atheroma within arteries to be removed and transported back to the liver for removal or reusage. The vegetable also causes an increase in the antioxidant activity within the liver, reduces the total cholesterol level and also the triglyceride level.
- Beetroot is very essential for the normal growth of the body tissues as it has high levels of Folate (vitamin B). Lack of this vitamin during the early stages of pregnancy leads to defects in the neural tube development, which, in turn, can cause birth defects like spina bifida. The prescribed daily requirement of folate is around 400 micrograms (I cup of boiled beets=136 micrograms folate).
- The purple crimson colored pigment, betacyanin, that gives beets their characteristic color contains beneficial flavonoids and is a powerful cancer-fighting agent. A number of studies have shown that its regular intake can be used as a treatment for colonic cancer in humans.
- Apart from this, it is also a traditional treatment for the cure of leukemia.
- Beet juice is also use to help lower high blood pressure. In fact, drinking of 500 ml of the juice can reduce the blood pressure within one hour and remains active for up to 24 hours of intake of the juice.
- Red beet is used as a powerful cleaner and builder of blood due to its iron content. Because of this, it is used in the treatment of ailments caused by toxic and harmful environment. It is also highly alkaline in nature and is very effective for curing acidosis.
- It is also used for healing gout, gall bladder, and kidney problems.
- Some other problems against which beetroots can act are toothaches, skin problems, menstrual problems, dysentery, and even headaches.
- It is a known fact that magnesium is important for the production and maintenance of healthy bone. Absence or lack of this mineral leads to ineffective functioning of the body calcium. Hence, adequate consumption of magnesium is vital to prevent osteoporosis especially in women. Beetroots have high levels of the mineral magnesium. However, the beet greens should be avoided by osteoporosis sufferers as the oxalic acid in it interferes with the calcium metabolism.
- Certain cognitive disorders like senile dementia and Alzheimer’s disease can be prevented by the intake of beets as they have high levels of antioxidants. These antioxidants lower certain free radicals in the body that are responsible for cell damage in the brain and other parts of the body.
- They can also help in preventing and curing constipation.
- Regular intake of red beets causes a reddish discoloration of urine and stools. This is called as beeturia. However, the condition is harmless and there is nothing to worry about.
- Due to the presence of oxalates in beetroots, person suffering from kidney and gall bladder problems should avoid eating it as the presence of high levels of oxalates in body fluids causes the crystallization of oxalates, and cause health problems.
- Beetroot juice is very strong and hence, it is always advisable to gradually increase the amount of intake rather than taking a large quantity at once.
- The use of beet juice as a cleansing agent should always be followed by the drinking of plenty of water, as people may sometimes feel dizzy during this process of elimination of toxins.
- The peeling of beetroots should be done only after cooking. When pierced or peeled before cooking, it bleeds causing the loss of some of its vibrant color and turning into a duller brownish red.
- You can also minimize the bleeding by washing the beets gently under cool running water, taking care all the time that the tough outer layer is not bruised or pierced.
- Beets should always be cooked lightly as overheating causes the reduction of its anti-cancer activity.