Do you like beets? I do, but typically would roast them with other vegetables. I have recently started to add them to juice – but I have to admit I’m still coming to terms with the red color! However, this article, on Dr. Mercola’s site gives me more motivation to continue adding beets to my juice. Not only have they been shown to benefit muscles, they are also good for reducing blood pressure.
Beetroots, also known simply as beets or table beets in the US, are a sweet, surprisingly concentrated source of nutrition. The first clue they’re loaded with nutrition is their bright red color, which indicates the presence of powerful phytonutrients called betalains.
Betalains include reddish-purple betacyanin pigments and yellowish betaxanthin pigments. Many of the betalain pigments in beets have been shown to provide antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and detoxifying effects.
Newer research suggests that, in addition, compounds in beets may improve muscle performance, offering allure not only for athletes but also for maintaining muscle function as you age.
Naturally Occurring Nitrates in Beets May Boost Muscle Health
Beets are a good source of naturally occurring nitrates, which are converted into nitric oxide (NO) in your body. Nitric oxide is perhaps most well-known for its benefits to heart health. As noted by cardiologist Dr. Stephen Sinatra:1
“Adequate NO production is the first step in a chain reaction that promotes healthy cardiovascular function, while insufficient NO triggers a cascade of destruction that eventually results in heart disease…
NO promotes healthy dilation of the veins and arteries so blood can move throughout your body. Plus, it prevents red blood cells from sticking together to create dangerous clots and blockages.”
Your heart, of course, is a muscle, so it makes sense that boosting NO production would also lead to improvements in other muscles in your body.
See next page for beet benefits for the brain…