The affordable "super vegetable" that reduces inflammation, is high in antioxidants, supports exercise endurance and lowers blood pressure.
It's Red Beets baby. Did you guess it?
The Journal of Functional Food (yes, this exists) published a paper in 2011 showing some pretty potent antioxidant powers of red beets (1). I won't bore you with the actual numbers (see attached citation) but they discovered that Red Beet juice delivers a significant dose of bioavailable antioxidants. Meaning, your body can actually use and benefit from, which includes reducing inflammation.
These powerful antioxidants are the phytonutrients in beets called "betalains". They go out on missions and destroy free radicals in your body. These free radicals are the enemies that actually damage your cells and cause inflammation. And inflammation, especially chronic inflammation, is what leads you down the path to disease, aging and chronic pain.
Red Beets also have nitrates in them. These nitrates help reduce high blood pressure by widening your blood vessels. Nitrates also help you with your exercise performance by providing more oxygen to your muscles and support your mitochondria, which is your cell's energy source(2).
Before you freak out about nitrates (hot dogs and other cured meats) know that naturally occurring, plant-based nitrates make up approx. 80% of your nitrate intake and actually have health promoting properties.(3)
Red Beets are also a great source of Folate and Manganese.
Pretty amazing right?
Here's the deal:
If you buy beet juice shots, make sure you purchase one that is minimally processed like the popular Red Ace. Heating beet juice will destroy and alter the antioxidant properties. So fresh is best (and cheapest!). Juice your own or grate some on your salad. Lightly steaming them is fine too. Also, if you leave your beet juice just sitting on the countertop or fridge, the nitrates can turn into nitric oxide if it's exposed to bacteria which is NOT a good thing so drink up!
TIP: If you're going to buy beet juice shots or power, buy it on Thrive Market to get the BEST deal and highest quality.
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(1) Wootton-Beard, Peter, and Lisa Ryan. "A Beetroot Juice Shot Is A Significant And Convenient Source Of Bioaccessible Antioxidants". Sciencedirect.com. N.p., 2011.
(2) Larsen FJ, Schiffer TA, Borniquel S, et al. Dietary inorganic nitrate improves mitochondrial efficiency in humans. Cell Metab. 2011;13(2):149-59.
(3) Hord NG, Tang Y, Bryan NS. Food sources of nitrates and nitrites: the physiologic context for potential health benefits. Am J Clin Nutr. 2009;90(1):1-10.