If You Can’t Beet ‘Em, Join ‘Em!
Clinically reviewed by : Dr. Jill Blakeway
Whether they’re roasted, pickled, or blended in your juices: beets are just the best! They’re delicious, nutritious, and let’s take a moment to appreciate that they’re just the most gorgeous color! I, along with so many others, have a love for beets and so I decided to dig a little deeper. What exactly is it about beets that makes them so good for you? Turns out there are more benefits than I thought!
When I asked the Yinova Center acupuncturists, they told me that the nutritional density of beets has been recognized in Asia for thousands of years and beets have been prescribed by Chinese doctors to “nourish the blood.” This means that they’ve been considered a tonic food for people who are pale, tired and feeling lackluster. And conventional science agrees, because beets are considered a good dietary addition for improving blood circulation, lowering blood pressure and lowering inflammation.
Inflammation isn’t always a bad thing. Let’s say you get a paper cut and the area gets red and a little puffy…. that’s inflammation doing it’s job! It’s when your body cannot control how much inflammation there is, that there’s a problem. When you find yourself suffering from inflammation, the bad kind, support your body is with anti-inflammatory foods. And for that look no further than beets! They contain a phytonutrient called Betalains, which is known for it’s anti-inflammatory properties. It’s also (fun fact) where beets get their color!
Beets can also help enhance libido. They are very high in boron, a trace mineral that has over the years been proven to boost natural sex hormones in the body, especially amongst men. A small group of men took part in a study that specifically looked at the impact of boron on their testosterone levels. After a few months the subject’s levels of testosterone had increased by 29%. Whilst it has been difficult to prove in the past, many people attribute a low sex drive amongst men to having lower amounts of testosterone.
Beets are also high in Nitrates, which studies have shown can increase blood flow systemically. In fact, increasing blood flow to the genitals is one of the mechanisms that Viagra ™ employs to treat erectile dysfunction.
Now, we don’t want to say that beets are “nature’s viagra” but perhaps one easy way to help boost libido, is to incorporate more boron heavy foods, like beets! As well as, of course, taking a look at Jill Blakeway’s book, Sex Again.
So do beets have any drawbacks? Well, only really one… There have been cases where people eat too many beets, which can cause your urine to have a red color to it. It is called Beeturia and it can be very alarming because of course that looks like blood and can be quite a scare! In fact, the show Portlandia has a sketch where they make fun of exactly this same issue: 911 dispatchers field an absurd amount of calls from people who scared because they are urinating blood, when in fact, they’re just eating too many beets.
It turns out, however, that this reddening is not considered harmful. However, it can be an indicator of other health problems, such as difficulties your body might have with metabolizing iron. The body needs to be able to metabolize iron for a whole host of reasons. Too much of it can be toxic, and not enough can give your body trouble with transporting oxygen. So, if this has or is happening to you, it would be worth checking in with your healthcare provider about your iron status.