Beets made the "Diabetes Forecast" list of superfoods you probably aren't eating but should be, making them a healthy addition to your diet. The vitamins, minerals, fiber and phytochemicals in these brightly colored vegetables may help you improve your heart health, lower your risk for diabetes complications and improve your running performance. Add them to salads, roast them for a somewhat sweet side or grate them and add them to the batter of baked goods like you would with zucchini.
Increased Vitamin and Mineral Intake
A 1-cup serving of cooked beets only contains 75 calories but provides you with 10 percent of the daily value for vitamin C and magnesium, 34 percent of the DV for folate, 15 percent of the DV for potassium and 28 percent of the DV for manganese. Vitamin C acts as an antioxidant and helps form collagen, and magnesium is essential for controlling blood pressure and blood sugar and forming DNA. You need folate for forming red blood cells and DNA, potassium for counteracting the blood pressure-increasing effects of sodium, and manganese for processing cholesterol and forming strong bones.
Fill Up on Fiber
Foods that provide fiber, like beets, can help you feel full and make it easier for you to lose weight. They may also help lower your cholesterol and blood glucose levels, as well as lower your chances of getting constipation and your risk of heart disease. Each cup of beets contains 3.4 grams of fiber, or 14 percent of the DV of 25 grams per day.
Improved Heart Health
Beets are a good source of anthocyanins, an antioxidant that gives them their purple color and is also associated with lower heart disease risk. An article published in "Circulation" in 2012 notes that beets are also one of the best dietary sources of inorganic nitrate, which may improve the dilation of your blood vessels and limit inflammation in your body, both of which may help lower your heart disease risk.
Other Potential Health Benefits
People with diabetes sometimes suffer from a condition called diabetic neuropathy, where nerves become damaged without any known cause except for diabetes. Foods, like beets, that contain an antioxidant called alpha-lipoic acid may help heal this damage. A study published in "The Review of Diabetic Studies" in 2009 found that alpha-lipoic acid supplementation may delay or even reverse this type of nerve damage at least in part due to its antioxidant action. Beets may also help improve the performance of runners, according to another study published in the "Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics" in April 2012. The high nitrate content of beets is most likely responsible for this benefit.
- HealthALiciousNess.com: Beets, Cooked, Boiled, Drained Nutrition Facts
- University of Illinois Extension: Beet
- Diabetes Forecast: 5 Superfoods You Should Eat -- But Probably Don't
- The Review of Diabetic Studies: Alpha-Lipoic Acid and Diabetic Neuropathy
- Consumer Reports: Eat a Heart-healthy Diet
- Circulation: Beets, Bacteria, and Blood Flow
- Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Whole Beetroot Consumption Acutely Improves Running Performance