Health Benefits and Disadvantages of Beets

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When people think of beets, they often think of the red bulbous root of this plant. However, the greens are even more nutrient-dense than the root, which can also be golden or white, depending on the type of beet it is. Add these delicious roots and greens to your diet for a number of potential health benefits with very few disadvantages.

Basic Nutrition Facts

Both beet roots and beet greens are low in calories and fat. A 1/2-cup serving of boiled beets contains 37 calories, 1.4 grams of protein, 0.2 grams of fat and 8.5 grams of carbohydrates, including 1.7 grams of fiber. The same amount of boiled beet greens provides 19 calories, 1.9 grams of protein, 0.1 grams of fat and 3.9 grams of carbohydrates, including 2.1 grams of fiber, or 8 percent of the daily value for fiber.

Micronutrient Profile

Beet roots are a good source of folate, with 17 percent of the daily value, and manganese, with 14 percent of the DV in each 1/2-cup serving. Beet greens provide even more essential vitamins and minerals, with each 1/2-cup serving providing 19 percent of the DV for potassium and manganese, 12 percent of the DV for magnesium, 12 percent of the DV for riboflavin, 30 percent of the DV for vitamin C, 110 percent of the DV for vitamin A and 436 percent of the DV for vitamin K. Folate and magnesium are essential for forming DNA, and you need manganese for processing cholesterol. Potassium helps control your blood pressure, riboflavin helps with nervous system function and vitamin C helps with collagen formation. Vitamin A is necessary for proper vision, and vitamin K is important for blood clotting.

Diabetes Potential

The phytochemicals in beets, including those that provide beets with their red color, may have an anti-diabetic effect, although research is still preliminary. Consuming beets may help you lower your blood sugar and cholesterol, according to an article published in "Red Beet Biotechnology" in 2012.

Increased Running Potential

Runners may want to make a habit of consuming beets. A study published in the "Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics" found that runners who increased their nitrate consumption by consuming beets before a run may run faster and feel less exertion during their run compared to those who consumed the same amount of calories from cranberry relish, which was used as a placebo.

Nitrate Controversy

Besides the fact that beets may turn your urine or stool a red or purple color, the main perceived disadvantage of beets is their high nitrate content. However, beets and other nitrate-rich vegetables contain inhibitors that appear to limit any adverse effects from these nitrates, as noted in an article published in "Environmental Health Perspectives" in August 2006. In fact, the nitrates in beets may have beneficial effects on your blood pressure. Studies published in both the "British Journal of Nutrition" and "Nutrition Journal" in 2012 found that consuming beetroot juice lowered the blood pressure of healthy adults. In the "British Journal of Nutrition" study, bread enriched with red beetroot, but not white beetroot, had a similar blood pressure-lowering effect.