Beets! More than just the band from ‘Doug’ (Youtube “Killer Tofu,” 80’s babies won’t regret this), this low carbohydrate root vegetable is known for its significant fiber, folate, and potassium content, low calories per serving, and most uniquely, its natural nitrates. 1,2,3 Beets have gained some favor in the sports nutrition world for these natural nitrates, which turn into nitric oxide in the body, a compound that dilates blood vessels, reduces blood pressure, and improves blood flow to tissues. Research shows some benefit to consuming beets within a couple hours prior to exercise, and for several days prior to a competitive event, to reduce completion times and perceived levels of exertion. 4 Most study participants were given beetroot juice specifically, some whole beets.
For the everyday person, beets are an excellent veggie option to benefit blood sugar control, gut health, fullness, and getting all those good micronutrients us nutrition folk talk about all the time.
To include them in your routine, buy beets fresh and you can also use the greens in a sautee (waste not). Don’t feel like messing with the cleaning and prep? Find these low/no-sodium canned and add to salads or have as a quick lunch veggie. If you’re a pickled veggie fan, you’re in luck, beets are commonly used in pickling. Also, check out our most recent recipe for a tasty take on these treats. We got the be(a)t! :)
1) Basic Report: 11080, Beets, Raw. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Legacy Release. https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/11080. Accessed February 20, 2019.
2) Vegetable of the Month: Beets. Harvard Health Publishing. Harvard Medical School Website. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/vegetable-of-the-month-beets. Accessed February 20, 2019.
3) Tone C. Fitness Foods: Boost Performance With Beets. Tod Diet. 2018; 18:4.
4) Domínguez R, Maté-Muñoz JL, Cuenca E, et al. Effects of beetroot juice supplementation on intermittent high-intensity exercise efforts. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2018;15:2. Published 2018 Jan 5. doi:10.1186/s12970-017-0204-9