Beets: Heart Health Benefits and More

Beets: Heart Health Benefits and More

Beets Are Nutritionally Rich

Beets, scientifically known as Beta vulgaris, are edible root vegetables believed to have originated in the Middle Eastern or Mediterranean regions. They have been utilized for both culinary and medicinal purposes for centuries. Historically, cultures in the Middle East employed beets to address various issues ranging from constipation to gastrointestinal and joint discomfort, and some even utilized them to combat dandruff.

The utilization of beets in traditional medicine is unsurprising, given their rich nutritional profile. Research indicates that beets contain essential nutrients like those found in multivitamin supplements, including iron, magnesium, thiamin, and folate.

In contemporary times, beets have garnered attention for their potential cardiovascular benefits. Recent studies have focused on beet supplementation rather than the consumption of the vegetable itself. Beet supplements are dietary products primarily composed of different parts of the beet plant.

These supplements have shown promise in promoting heart health by reducing blood pressure, enhancing exercise performance, and supporting overall cardiovascular well-being through improved blood circulation and cholesterol levels.

Benefits of Beets

Benefits of Beets

Heart Health

Heart Health

Research indicates that incorporating beet supplementation into one's diet may enhance heart health.

A particular study focused on the potential benefits of beet supplementation for older adults grappling with heart failure. The research involved 20 participants aged between 62 to 76 years old. These individuals were administered beetroot juice for seven days, after which their exercise capacity was assessed. Following the supplementation period, it was observed that exercise capacity among the participants with heart failure surged by approximately 24%. Additionally, there was a significant reduction in systolic blood pressure.

Studies further suggest that beet supplementation could positively impact heart health by elevating the body's cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP) levels. Acting as a secondary messenger molecule, cGMP plays a crucial role in regulating various bodily responses, including vasodilation, which involves the relaxation and dilation of blood vessels.

Moreover, research implies that beet supplementation may be a potent scavenger of free radicals in the body. Due to their abundance of antioxidant nutrients such as vitamins C, E, and betalains, beets may function as anti-aging supplements, promoting the resilience and flexibility of blood vessels.

Cholesterol

Cholesterol

Beet supplementation may contribute to fostering a healthy heart by enhancing high-density lipoprotein (HDL) levels, commonly called "good" cholesterol. A double-masked, randomized, placebo-controlled study involving 20 participants investigated the impact of beet supplementation on a high-fat meal. The participants were divided into groups; some received beet supplementation alongside their high-fat meal, while others did not.

Results showed that the group receiving beet supplements exhibited elevated levels of HDL and lower diastolic blood pressure compared to the placebo group. HDL plays a crucial role in heart health by scavenging excess cholesterol from the bloodstream and transporting it back to the liver for processing.

Moreover, studies suggest that beet supplementation may support heart health by aiding in weight management. Obesity, defined as having a body mass index (BMI) of 30.0 or higher, is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular issues due to its impact on heart structure and blood flow.

The research focused on the effects of beet supplementation on obesity parameters involving individuals classified as clinically overweight or obese. Participants were split into two groups: a control group receiving nutritional guidance alone and an intervention group receiving both nutritional guidance and freeze-dried beet leaves for four weeks. While both groups experienced significant reductions in body weight and BMI, the group supplemented with beets exhibited lower levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), known as "bad" cholesterol, compared to the control group.

LDL transports cholesterol throughout the body, depositing it in the arteries, and high levels are associated with an increased risk of heart attack and atherosclerosis, or the hardening of the arteries.

Blood Pressure

Blood Pressure

Studies suggest incorporating beet supplements into one's diet may reduce high blood pressure. A meta-analysis examining the effects of beet juice supplementation on systolic and diastolic blood pressure found that beetroot juice supplementation was more effective than placebo in lowering both measures within 14 days. Furthermore, prolonged supplement usage beyond 14 days yielded even more significant reductions in blood pressure.

Another study, employing a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled design, involved 68 participants with hypertension. Those in the intervention group consumed 250 mL of naturally nitrate-rich beetroot juice daily for four weeks, while the control group received nitrate-depleted beetroot juice. Results showed that the nitrate-rich beetroot juice group experienced significant reductions in systolic and diastolic blood pressure and improvements in endothelial function and arterial stiffness compared to the placebo group.

Additionally, research suggests that beet supplementation may benefit blood pressure management in older adults. A randomized placebo-controlled study demonstrated that beetroot juice supplementation in adults aged 51 to 71 immediately reduced blood pressure within 3 hours of ingestion. Furthermore, the study observed decreased platelet aggregation and markers of inflammation in the beetroot juice group, indicating a potential anti-inflammatory role of beets.

Beet supplements are believed to aid in lowering blood pressure due to their high nitrate content. Nitrates, naturally occurring nitrogen compounds found in beets, can be converted to nitric oxide in the body. Nitric oxide plays a crucial role in vasodilation, or the relaxation of blood vessels, by influencing the vascular endothelium—the layer of cells lining the blood vessels—to promote improved blood flow and lower blood pressure.

Inflammation

Inflammation

Beet supplements, owing to their potential anti-inflammatory properties, could play a role in promoting longevity. Inflammation within blood vessels has been associated with diseases and conditions, such as arterial stiffening, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and inflammatory bowel diseases.

Research indicates that inflammation is correlated with higher mortality rates. Given its notable anti-inflammatory capabilities, beet supplementation may aid in mitigating inflammation, potentially contributing to increased longevity.

Athletic Performance

Athletic Performance

Research suggests that regular physical activity can promote heart health, with beet supplements enhancing athletic performance by boosting endurance and benefiting overall cardiovascular function.

A systematic review revealed that beet supplementation enhanced athletes' performance by increasing efficiency, allowing them to exercise for more extended periods before experiencing exhaustion.

In another study focusing on beet supplementation and exercise performance among individuals with peripheral artery disease (PAD), a condition characterized by reduced blood flow to the limbs due to narrowed arteries, participants experienced prolonged exercise duration and increased workload capacity when supplemented with beets. Moreover, those in the beet supplementation group reported experiencing less pain during exercise than the placebo group.

Furthermore, a double-masked study on trained cyclists demonstrated that six days of beet supplementation improved training duration and increased power output.

Overall, research suggests that beet supplementation may enhance heart health by improving exercise performance in duration and intensity.

Conclusion

Beet supplements can enhance heart health by lowering blood pressure, improving exercise performance, and positively influencing excellent and bad cholesterol levels. Incorporating beet supplementation into a heart-healthy routine is a significant asset.

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