Beets are among the most popular food items especially when it comes to salads. If you enjoy their flavor and the texture they give your meals, you’ll want to know beets benefits and side effects.
That way you’ll better understand what you’re getting each time you eat beets.
Are Beets Good or Bad For You?
Below we list down the pros and cons of eating beets. And whether or not they’re healthy for you.
Health Benefits of Beets
There are good health reasons to eat beets more often than at the occasionally holiday.
1. Beets Lower Blood Pressure
In fact, drinking beet juice has been shown to reduce blood pressure. What’s even better is that this benefit is seen with only one glass.
The reason for this effect appears to be the naturally occurring nitrates in beets. When you eat or drink beets, the nitrates within them are converted by our bodies into nitrate oxide. This compound in turn, helps relax and dilate our blood vessels.
When this happens, blood is able to flow better. This results in better overall circulation. At the same time, lessens the amount of work the heart needs to pump the same amount of blood oxygen to our muscles and organs.
2. They Boost Your Endurance
Those same nitrate oxides may also help with your physical endurance.
Studies show that athletes who drank beet juice before exercise were able to perform 16% longer. The belief is that the nitrate oxides helps reduce the cost of low-intensity exercise. Plus, they help in increasing our tolerance for high-intensity exercise.
3. They Fight Inflammation
The next benefit of beets lays in its anti-inflammatory abilities.
Beets are a unique source of betaine, which helps protect the body from environmental stress.
Thanks to chronic stress and poor lifestyle and eating habits, our bodies today experience more inflammation compared to our parents and grandparents.
This makes foods like beets which fight inflammation valuable.
It is for this reason that beets also have the potential to have an anti-cancer effect.
The studies have only been done in animal studies. And the research is being conducted to see how it works in human studies.
This nutrient that’s present in this red colored vegetable is believed to be responsible for the anti-cancer effect. It is also the phytonutrients that give beets their color.
The betalain pigments help your body get rid of broken down toxins in your system. Toxins bind to other molecules once they’re broken down. So, they don’t harm other parts of the body while they’re on their way out of the body.
4. Beets Contain a Number of Nutrients
Beets are also high in various other nutrients that the body needs to function. Some of these include those such as vitamin C, fiber, potassium, and manganese. These bright colored vegetables also contain folate, which helps reduce the risk of birth defects.
The nutrients aren’t just limited to the beetroot though. If you’re looking to get a healthy dose of vitamins and minerals, munch on the beet greens too.
They have even more vitamins and minerals then the root does.
Beet greens with all of their nutrients can help ward off osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s disease and strengthen your immune system by stimulating the production of white blood cells and antibodies.
Side Effects of Beets
With all of these health benefits, there has to be a downside.
As with most foods, there are a few downsides to eating beets. However, they do not affect all of the population.
1. Beets May Change Your Urine and Stool Color
These side effects affect only 10 to 14% of the population. So only a small fraction of people wind up with pink urine from eating beets.
Yes, this is a minor side effect of beets, albeit a very frightening one if it does happen to you. That’s at least the first time it does.
The good news is that it is harmless and nothing to worry about.
The change in urine color returns to normal in a day or two, depending on how much beets you ate, how much water your drink and how well your digestive health is.
It is suspected that this is related to how much iron is needed by the body. But for whatever the reason, knowing this side effect of beets makes you aware of what may happen.
Another scary side effect of beets is dark stools. Like the pink or red urine, the scary change in stool color is also another potential issue when eating beets.
Reddish streaks can occasionally be seen that look similar to those left by hemorrhoids or fissures. And if you don’t know how to differentiate between them, it can easily be mistaken for blood in stool.
Again, this doesn’t occur in everyone, just a small fraction of individuals.
2. They Contain Oxalic Acid
Kidney stones and Gallstones might be linked to the oxalic acid that’s in beets.
Oxalic acid interferes with the absorption of certain minerals such as calcium. However, unless your doctor tells you not to eat foods high in oxalic acid, there’s no need to eliminate the foods that are high in it from your diet.
An interesting side note about beets is that they have been used for producing sugar since Napoleon when sugar cane was barred from being exported. Originally the beet green was what was eaten, not the root.
Overall, beets are good for you. They have some potentially frightening side effects because of the fear that’s brought about the change in urine and stool colors. But as mentioned it’s just the pigmentation, and that goes away as the body metabolizes the food.
This makes beets a healthy food that benefits our bodies.