Beets are beautiful. I absolutely love the bright color they bring to dishes, especially shredding them on top of winter salads or adding it to hummus to make it turn PINK. However, as beautiful as they are, I still find it difficult to incorporate beets into my everyday life. The earthy taste can be a bit much for me and beetroot juices can be really high in sugar. As a very active and outdoorsy person, I heard how beets can be great for energy and exercise performance, so I was trying to get creative on how to add more of it in my life.
That’s how I came across beetroot powder. This is the perfect way to appreciate what beets have to offer by adding it into my daily smoothies or easily mixing it with water.
Read further if you’d like to learn about this earth remedy’s history and origin, and several of its known health benefits today.
Where Do Beets Come From?
Beets are native to the Mediterranean region. These colorful plants appreciate cooler weather and bright sunshine. They are considered a dual crop since both their root and leaves are harvested and highly nutritious.
Medicinal and Historical Uses
The leaves have been enjoyed since before written history and the beetroot was generally used medicinally. It’s medicinal properties included treating constipation, fevers, skin disorders, circulation, and even as an aphrodisiac according to records of Roman physicians. During excavations, archaeologists discovered paintings of beetroots on the walls of brothels in ancient towns, preserved in ash from the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. Since ancient times, the beet was also used for natural dyes and teas.
Around 300 BC the cultivation of beets started in Ancient Greece as they consumed only the leaves while leaving the roots as part of their ceremonies. Rumor has it that Hippocrates himself used beetroot leaves for wound dressing.
During the 16th century the vegetable was cultivated throughout Europe. Then, in the 1800s, the French really recognized beet’s potential. Well known French military leader Napoleon Bonaparte used sugar beets to solve the sugar shortage from British sugar restrictions.
Around the 19th century beetroots were used for making red beet juice that became popular among the ladies as an effective lip stain. Although some applied it on their cheeks as well to give themselves a more rosy skin tone. Around this same time, beets made their way to the United States.
Health Benefits of Beets
Today, many of us enjoy beets raw, boiled, steamed, roasted, or pickled. As I mentioned earlier, I really prefer it as a pre or post workout powder to add to my smoothies. Then I don’t have to worry about peeling the vegetable and getting red stains everywhere. Whichever way you prefer your beets, the high nutrition profile remains across all forms. Here is a list of several of mother nature’s gifts provided to us:
1. May enhance exercise performance
Several studies show eating beets enhances exercise performance (1, 2, 3, 4, 5).
The main reason for this is the nitrates present in beets. This is not the same as synthetic sodium nitrate, which is a potential carcinogenic in processed packaged meats. Plant-derived nitrates in beets, taken up by the roots from the soil, convert to nitric oxide. This boost of nitric oxide improves blood flow to the heart, brain, and muscles. This allows for a more efficient use of oxygen (6).
This better oxygen flow means that while we are out running, hiking, swimming etc, our heart and lungs don’t have to work so hard. This allows us to perform vigorous activity for longer.
2. May lower blood pressure
As I’ve mentioned in other blogs, heart disease is one of the leading causes of death worldwide. If you have high blood pressure, you may be increasing your chance of heart attack, heart failure, or stroke.
Luckily, studies show that beet consumption significantly lowers blood pressure over a period of only a few hours (7, 8, 9). This may be because of the nitrates (mentioned in the previous paragraph) present in beets. Nitric oxide opens up your blood vessels, resulting in lower blood pressure and heart rate (10).
FYI- nitrate levels stay elevated for about six hours so you’ll want to consume beets regularly to maintain lower blood pressure long-term (11).
3. May help fight inflammation
Having chronic inflammation in our bodies is the beginning of many preventable diseases. Beets are considered anti-inflammatory. They contain a compound called betalain that reduces inflammation (12, 13, 14).
One study in humans with osteoarthritis showed that betalain capsules made with beetroot extract reduced pain and discomfort associated with the condition (15)
Other studies show how beetroot juice and beetroot extract reduce kidney inflammation in rats (16, 17).
4. May support brain health
Nitrates in beets may improve mental and cognitive function.
Nitrates promote the dilation of blood vessels, which then increases blood flow to the brain (18). This may be important because as we age, mental and cognitive function naturally decline. This decline may be due to a reduction of blood flow and oxygen supplied to the brain. Significant declines may result in dementia (19, 20).
5. May improve digestion
You’ve probably heard about how important fiber is for digestion. Thankfully, beets are a good source of fiber. The fiber in beets resists digestion in the stomach and small intestine and travels more or less intact into the colon, where your health-promoting gut bacteria ferment it and use it for food.
Fiber intake helps to prevent you from constipation, inflammatory bowel disease, and chronic diseases (21, 22, 23, 24).
6. Can boost your immunity
Beets are high in zinc, copper, vitamin A, and vitamin C. All of these nutrients contribute to a healthy immune system (25, 26).
Vitamin A increases antibody production and stimulates your white blood cells. This helps to ward off infections.
Beets also contain iron, which carries oxygen throughout the body, keeps cells strong, and enhances immune defense.
Izee Native Beetroot Powder with Amino Acids
As you can see, there is quite a bit of research supporting beets’ ability to allow us to hike that extra mile without feeling exhausted. There are quite a few beetroot powders on the market, but I really like Izee Native’s Beetroot Powder because it has Instantized Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs), L-Arginine HCL, L-Citrulline DL-Malate, Sodium Citrate Dihydrate, and Bioperine.
So what are all these things exactly?
First, the BCAAs are a group of three essential amino acids: leucine, isoleucine and valine. They are essential because the body doesn’t produce them itself- they must be obtained from food sources. BCAAs contribute to:
- Increase muscle growth (27, 28, 29)
- Decrease muscle soreness (30, 31, 32, 33)
- Reduce exercise fatigue (34, 35)
- Prevent muscle wasting (36, 37, 38)
Second, let’s talk about the other ingredients, which may have confusing sounding names.
- L-Arginine HCL: this is an amino acid that the body needs to function properly. It helps play a role in building protein.
- L-Citrulline DL-Malate: this is a non-essential amino acid. It boosts nitric oxide in the body, which as we mentioned earlier, improves blood flow throughout the body.
- Sodium Citrate: this is a sodium salt which acts as an alkaline source in your body, which helps maintain healthy PH levels.
- Bioperine: This is the fancy word for black pepper extract. It is a completely natural ingredient that helps increase absorption of nutrients in our bodies.
Overall, this is pretty much a miracle powder for me when I’m out camping, hiking, or before I go to the gym. Plus it’s a really great way to get an extra boost of nutrients in a pinch. Give it a go and let us know if you feel the boost! Although we can’t take all the credit… beets have been around far longer than Izee Native so make sure to give thanks to another one of our earth’s finest native remedies.