We have all seen our mothers and grandmothers talk about the all important root – beetroot. The purplish-red root is a well know antidote for anaemia in many Indian households. With the Romans relying on it to maintain their sexual health to Indians using it to treat conditions like anaemia and fatigue, the humble beetroot has been known to have multiple benefits. Here are some reasons you should include them into your diet:
Helps reduce blood pressure: According to the British Heart foundation, eating vegetables rich in nitrates could help reduce blood pressure drastically. Read why you need to reduce your blood pressure.
This statement was backed up by research done at the Queen Mary’s University in the year 2010. The research studied the relationship between beetroot and its effect on one’s blood pressure. Beetroot is a great source of nitrates, which when consumed, is converted to nitrites and a gas called nitric oxides. Both these components help to widen the arteries and lower blood pressure. Researchers also found that having just about 500 grams of beetroot every day reduces a person’s blood pressure in about six hours. Another important effect of beetroot was that on consumption, the higher the person’s blood pressure the greater the drop. Read simple tips to include beetroot in your diet.
Prevents plaque formation and reduces ‘bad’ cholesterol: Beetroot is known to contain large amounts of soluble fibres, flavanoids and betacyanin. Betacyanin is the compound that gives beetroot its purplish-red colour and is also a powerful antioxidant. It helps reduce the oxidation of LDL cholesterol and does not allow it to deposit on the walls of the artery. This protects the heart from potential heart attacks and stroke reducing the need for medication.
Is great for pregnant mums: Another amazing quality of the root is that it has an abundant supply of folic acid. Folic acid is important for pregnant mums and unborn babies because it is an essential component for the proper formation of the unborn child’s spinal cord, and can protect the child from conditions such as spina bifida (is a congenital disorder where the child’s spinal cord does not form completely and in most cases looks like it has been divided into two at the base). Beetroot also gives mums-to-be that extra energy boost required during pregnancy. Read more about why women need folic acid during pregnancy.
Beats osteoporosis: Beetroot is packed with mineral silica, an important component for the body to use calcium efficiently. Since calcium makes up our bones and teeth, having a glass of beetroot juice a day could help keep conditions such as osteoporosis and brittle bone disease at bay. Here’s some information on how you can prevent osteoporosis.
Keeps diabetes under check: For all you diabetics out there, fulfil your sweet craving with a little beetroot. Since it contains sugars, is fat free, low in calories and has a medium glycaemic index it is just what the doctor ordered. A medium glycaemic index means that it releases sugars very slowly into the blood. This property helps keep a person’s blood sugar levels low while satiating that sugar craving.
Treats anaemia: It is a common myth that because beetroot is reddish in colour, it replaces lost blood and is therefore good to treat anaemia. While this may sound a bit outrageous to many, there is a partial truth hidden in the myth. Beetroot contains a lot of iron. Iron helps in the formation of haemagglutinin, which is a part of the blood that helps transport oxygen and nutrients to various parts of the body. It is the iron content and not the colour that helps treat anaemia. Read more about the causes of anaemia.
Helps relieve fatigue: A study presented at the American Diabetics association’s conference stated that beetroot helps boost a person’s energy. They said that due to its nitrate content it helped dilate the arteries thereby helping in the proper transportation of oxygen to various parts of the body, increasing a person’s energy. Another theory was that because the root is a rich source of iron, it helps in improving a person’s stamina. Whatever the source, a pick-me-up at the end of a tiring day can be just what one needs.
Improves sexual health and stamina: Also known as ‘natural Viagra’, beetroot has been commonly used in a number of ancient customs to boost one’s sexual health. Since the vegetable is a rich source of nitrates it helps release nitric oxide into the body, widening the blood vessels, and increasing blood flow to the genitals – a mechanism that medicines like Viagra seek to replicate. Another factor is that beetroot contains a lot of boron, a chemical compound that is important for the production of the human sex hormone. So the next time, ditch the blue pill and have some beetroot juice instead.
Protects you from cancer: The betacyanin content in beetroot has another very important function. In a study done at the Howard University, Washington DC, it was found that betacyanin helped slow the growth of tumours by 12.5 percent in patients with breast and prostate cancer. ## This effect not only helps in the diagnosis and treatment of cancers but it also helps cancer survivors remain cancer-free longer.
Beats constipation and keeps the stomach healthy: Because of its high soluble fibre content beetroot is a great laxative. It cleanses the colon and clears out the stomach helping in regularising one’s bowel movements. Here are a few home remedies to relieve constipation.
Boosts brain power and may treat dementia: A study performed by the University of Exeter, UK, showed that drinking beetroot juice could increase a person’s stamina by 16 percent, because of its nitrate content. Known to increase the oxygen uptake by the body, the study also found that because of this one factor, it could also help in the proper functioning of the brain and beat the onset of dementia. It has also been seen that nitrate when converted to nitrite helps in the better transmission of neural impulses, making the brain work better. Here’s how weight loss can help you to boost memory.
# Published in the Journal of Nutrition
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