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Most of us have seen canned, pickled or raw beets in the store or remember them from childhood. Have you ever wondered about their health benefits?
Vegetable juices have an ever increasing popularity with the discoveries on how they can significantly impact our overall health. When cooked and juiced beet roots make a powerful dark red elixir. It is rich in essential nutrients such as foliate, vitamin C, and potassium as well as antioxidants.
The juice has shown many beneficial properties including the ability to lower blood pressure. Beet root juice can be consumed fresh or found dried in the form of supplements. These can include tablets and capsules you can take or powders you can mix into a juice.
Beets are a root vegetable of European decent originally grown for their leaves which were used much as we use spinach and kale now. Later people discovered the roots could be consumed and became very sweet when cooked.
In the 1800s, a French scientist also discovered a way to extract sugar from beets at a time when sugar cane shipments had become sparse. Beets and beet sugars are used as an additive in many products today because they are easy to grow and add sweetness and color to commercially prepared products.
A study done on beet juice consumption and blood pressure showed that drinking 2 cups a day may reduce blood pressure. Researchers believe this is connected to the high levels of nitrates in beets.
The nitrates in the beet juice are converted in the stomach to nitric oxide, which passes into the blood stream. Once in the blood stream, nitrates inhibit blood vessels from expanding or contracting. This lowers blood pressure.
Study participants showed a drop in blood pressure just 1 hour after consumption and lowest levels after 2 ½ to 3 hours. Blood pressure remained lowered for 24 hours after drinking the beet juice.
The nitrates in beet juice also increased blood flow and oxygen in the brain. Studies on elderly patients showed an increase in production in the frontal lobe. According to WebMD, this area is associated with degenerative diseases such as dementia and loss of cognitive abilities.
The phytonutrients in beet juice are called betalains. The two betalains present are betanin and vulgaxanthin. These have been shown to provide antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and detoxification properties.
These phytonutrients make beet juice an important part of juice cleanses and liver detoxes. The betanins present in beet juice have been shown to shrink tumor growth in recent studies.
Labs have conducted tests on cells from the stomach, nerves, lung, breast, and prostate. These results are not proof of anticancer benefits but are encouraging and more studies are in the process of starting.
There are claims that beet juice can help dissolve kidney stones. At this time no research has been published to support these claims.
Beet juice is a very powerful cleanser and it can dump toxins into the liver too fast if consumed in large quantities. If you have liver or kidney problems, beet juice might make them worse, so consult a doctor first.
Beet juice contains two major antioxidants known as lutein and zeaxanthin. These are classified as carotenoids. Carotenoids are best known for their effects on eye health. Lutein and zeaxanthin are both very useful to prevent common age related eye problems involving the macula and retina.
Beet juice comes from a vegetable and is regarded as safe for healthy individuals. It is very high in red pigments and can cause urine and stools to turn red as well. This is considered a harmless side effect.
Beet juice will also increase water content in stools, so people suffering from diarrhea should not consume it. Other side effects reported were fever, chills and rash.
Fever and chills may be a byproduct of the cleansing effects of beet juice but if you experience these side effects you should stop using it immediately. Rashes can be a sign of allergic reactions and you should discontinue use and have the rash checked out.
A rare side effect of beet juice is temporary paralysis of the vocal cords. This can be felt as a tingling sensation in the throat or an inability to speak. Mixing beet juice with other juices seems to lower the risk of vocal cord damage.
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