The Beet plant (Beta vulgaris) is a biennial vegetable plant with a round or oblong root that is typically dark red or purple, though in less common varieties it can be white, yellow, orange, bright red, or even rainbow-colored. If left to mature, the Beet plant will grow three to six feet tall and produce dense spikes of tiny flowers and small fruits. However, Beet plants are often harvested before maturity for their edible roots and leaves. The root of one variety of Beet, known as the Sugar Beet, is a great source of sucrose and is widely grown commercially for producing table sugar.
The use of Beets as both food and medicine around the world has been mentioned throughout history, from Mesopotamia in 8th Century BC to Medieval Europe, as well as ancient Greece, Rome, and others.
Nutrients & Applications:
Beets have long been used in traditional medicines around the world for various reasons, especially for issues relating to digestion or the blood, such as occasional constipation or mild fevers. Beet root juice is also considered an aphrodisiac, being rich in boron, which plays an important role in the production of sex hormones.
Nitrates in Beets can make exercise less tiring by reducing the amount of oxygen the body needs to use. A recent study from the University of Exeter in the UK suggests that drinking juice from the Beet root can boost stamina and increase endurance up to 16% — more than is possible by any other known means, even training!
Another study on Beets, performed by researchers at Barts and the London School of Medicine, indicates that drinking just a pint of Beet root juice daily helped maintain healthy blood pressure levels. Again, those nitrates in the Beets are responsible for this helpful effect on the body!
Beets may also be helpful in supporting liver health and eye health, as well as encouraging normal cholesterol levels and discouraging acute inflammation. Beets help maintain blood purity, aid elasticity of cell walls, and provide iron to support and oxygenate blood cells. The absorption of this iron is aided by the copper content in Beets.
Folate, a B vitamin essential for normal tissue growth, is also found in rich quantities in Beets. Folate from beet is particularly important for pregnant women and may prevent neural-tube birth defects.
Most other red plants contain anthocyanin pigmentation, but the vivid colors of Beet roots come from a variety of betalain pigments. Beets are also a good source of bioflavonoids, manganese, potassium, vitamin C, magnesium, and phosphorus. Dietary fiber, both soluble and insoluble, is another helpful component of Beets, as well as carotenoids such as beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin. Beets are also highly alkaline which makes them excellent for helping the body combat unhealthy acidity.*