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Sat, Dec. 14

Just beet it! The health benefits of beetroot

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Hello simply fit readers and happy spring! My family and I are attempting to plant our first garden in our back yard. I can't wait to eat fresh fruits and vegetables that my not so green thumb helped to grow.

One of the vegetables I'm excited to plant is beetroot. I love beets, so I was incredibly happy to stumble across an article in February 2012's issue of Today's Dietitian, titled "Reap the benefits of beetroot juice," which boasted the health benefits of this hearty root.

According to this article, beetroot juice helps to lower blood pressure and can increase athletic performance due to the high nitrate content.

Here's a brief rundown:

• Beetroots are high in nitrate

• Celery and Spinach are also high in nitrate

• Dietary nitrate lowers blood pressure

• Reduces the amount of oxygen needed during exercise due to the conversion of dietary nitrate to nitric oxide

• Nitric oxide helps to regulate blood flow, muscle contraction, glucose and calcium homeostasis

Now before you head out to buy a nitric oxide supplement in an effort to reap the above mentioned benefits without needing to drink beetroot juice, STOP! According to Today's Dietitian, consuming nitrite supplements may have serious consequences even when taking a low dose however, consuming a diet high in nitrates is presumed safe.

Please consult your doctor before increasing your nitrate intake if you have cardiovascular disease or are taking certain medications such as nitrate or nitrite drugs and PDE-5 inhibitors.

According to Livestrong.com:

• Beetroot juice contains 110 calories per 1 cup (8oz)

• Helps prevent cancer, lowers blood pressure and helps to improve internal functions. The health benefits of beet root juice are the same whether it is eaten raw or juiced.

• Beet root juice is high in A, B and C vitamins. It is also a great source of potassium, fiber, good carbohydrates and iron.

According to an article written by Dr. Rallie McAllister shown on Creators.com:

• Drinking two cups of beetroot juice daily significantly reduced blood pressure in healthy volunteers.

• Nitric oxide production declines progressively with age

• You may get similar benefits by adding more spinach, radishes and cabbage to your diet or, you could simply take a dietary supplement that supplies the essential amino acid arginine

• Food sources of arginine include nuts, seeds, wheat germ and brown rice

• Arginine supplements have been used in the treatment of angina, erectile dysfunction, peripheral artery disease and even dementia

My take home message to you is to try to add beets to your daily vegetable intake. A few simple ways are adding roasted beets as a side dish, pureeing beets to add to soups, stews and even cake mixes.

I found some great recipes on Mariquita.com including chocolate beet brownies, red devil cake, beet and quinoa salad. Check it out.

Peace!

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