Brimming with antioxidants and vitamins, crunchy and sweet, red beets fight heart disease and cancer. The leaf of the red beet may even lead to a reduction in body fat. Packing a nutritional punch, folic acid abundant in beet root reduces inflammation in the blood vessels. Include this root vegetable and its leaf in your diet for a panacea of robust health. Cold, pickled, mashed or juiced, enjoy the nutritional benefits of beets.
Reduces Body Fat
A diet that includes red beet leaf controls body weight and reduces fat accumulation, in tests on laboratory mice. In a study published in the Summer 2009 issue of "Nutrition Research and Practice," the researchers indicated the plausibility of red beet leaf to reduce high levels of HDL or "bad" cholesterol levels.
Diets high in fat and cholesterol can increase damage to the body's cells known as cell oxidation. This cell oxidation can lead to disease and illness in the body. Reducing HDL cholesterol and excess weight may diminish cellular oxidation.
Increases Heart Health
Oxidizing cells also reduce antibodies and white blood cells in plasma. Exposing the body to this cellular oxidation damages the DNA in lymphocytes. Hepocytes in the liver and lymphocytes in the blood combat diseases, notes a study published in the Aug.12, 2009, issue of "The Journal of Medicinal Food". The study findings indicated that a variety of leafy vegetables, including beet leaf, reduced oxidative damage in lymphocyte DNA. In addition to the power of beet leaf, betaine, a nutrient in beet root, reduces risk factors of heart disease. According to a report from the University of Maryland Medical Center, betaine has the potential to reduce elevated levels of homocysteines, naturally occurring amino acids that can lead to heart attack and stroke.
Beet root is also rich in folic acid that lowers elevated homocysteine levels, according to a February 2005, study in "Current Drug Metabolism". The findings focus on the efficacy of betaine and folic acid in the prevention of cardiovascular disease.
Diminishes Cancer Growth
A team of researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and scientist Kirk Parkin found that beet pigment may be useful in detoxifying the body of cancer-causing substances. In a study published in the Nov. 6, 2002, issue of the "Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry," Parkin, et al., note that extracts from red beets triggered higher levels of protective enzymes. These beet pigments, known as betalains, elevate phase II enzyme levels, which protect the body from developing cancerous cells.
Overcooking beets can diminish their nutritional value. Eating raw or sweetly pickled beets with peels as well as beet leaves will provide additional nutritional benefit. Beeturia is a condition in which the urine darkens to a red tint after ingesting beet root. It is not a harmful condition. Consult a physician prior to taking any supplements, including betaine if you are taking cholesterol lowering medication.
- "Research and Practice": Red beet leaf supplementation improves antioxidant status in mice fed high fat high cholesterol diet; Jeung Hee Lee, et al., Summer 2009
- "Anticancer Agents in Medicinal Chemistry": Cytotoxic Effect of the Red Beetroot Extract Compared to Doxorubicin in the Human Prostate and Breast Cancer Cell Lines; Kapadia GJ, et al., March 1, 2011
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Betaine
- "Current Drug Metabolism": Effects of betaine intake on plasma homocysteine concentrations and consequences for health; Olthof MR, Verhoef P; February 2005
- "Journal of Medicinal Food": Leafy vegetable mix supplementation improves lipid profiles and antioxidant status in C57BL/6J mice fed a high fat and high cholesterol diet; Kim MY, et al., August 12, 2009
- Photo Credit Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images Medioimages/Photodisc/Valueline/Getty Images Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images
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