This vegetable even fights osteoarthritis. Beets are a part of many salads, and research shows that their value goes far beyond aesthetic appeal.
The root vegetable contains compounds that can strengthen the body’s defenses against serious disorders. This comprehensive review analyzed the current literature on the subject.
According to the review, beets are also one of the few vegetables that contain a group of highly biologically active pigments known as betalains. Betalain is the most abundant pigment in beets, responsible for their bright red color. As explained in the review, the pigment is a rich source of antioxidants, compounds that protect the body from oxidative stress.
Oxidative stress is an imbalance of unstable atoms called free radicals and antioxidants in the body, which can lead to damage to cells and tissues.
The review cites a number of studies showing that beets in the form of juice supplements protect DNA from oxidative damage.
Betalains and beet extracts have also been shown to be powerful anti-inflammatory agents, the review says. Chronic inflammation can trigger the development of a number of serious diseases, such as arthritis.
“There are a limited number of studies demonstrating that beet supplements have anti-inflammatory effects in vivo,” the researchers write. In vivo studies are those in which the effects of various biological objects are tested on whole living organisms or cells. It is one of the most reliable methods of scientific research.
One study cited in the review showed that ingestion of betalain-rich oral capsules made from beet extracts relieved inflammation and pain in patients with osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is a chronic disease characterized by progressive joint degeneration.
Improving cognitive function
Cognitive function deteriorates with age and is associated with dementia and other forms of brain decline. Although long-term clinical trials have not yet been conducted, a preliminary study examined the effects of spicy beetroot supplements on age-related cognitive function.
In the study, older adults with type 2 diabetes took 250 ml of beetroot juice for 14 days. At the end of the study, they experienced a significant improvement in simple reaction time compared to the control group. However, no effects were found in other cognitive tests related to decision-making, rapid processing, shape, and spatial memory.
General dietary advice
Everyone should strive for a well-balanced diet – fad diets may not provide the nutrient balance you need. According to the British Heart Foundation (BHF), the best way to understand this is to think about foods in food groups.
- Lots of fruits and vegetables
- Lots of starchy foods such as bread, rice, potatoes, and pasta.
- Choose whole grain varieties whenever possible
- Some milk and dairy products
- Some meat, fish, eggs, beans, and other non-dairy protein sources.
- Only a small amount of foods and beverages are high in fat and/or sugar.