Whether you like them or not, beets are increasingly being recognized as having the potential to become the next superfood. Of course, if you just gave that statement an eyeroll after reading this statement, we’d understand. Having said that, you should keep reading to learn how beets may also provide some gout relief.
Regardless, it’s a fact that we are inundated with information about superfoods. Superfoods can now easily be found on most restaurant menus. The most popular or discussed superfoods include things like blueberries, spirulina, quinoa, kale, etc. Needless to say, the list is extensive!
It would be an understatement to say that many people are skeptical of the next “superfood” claim. However, if you suffer from gout, you’re likely wondering if adding beets to your gout-diet is a good idea. Keep on reading to find out, you’ll probably be quite surprised at what we have to say about that.
Beets: The Next Superfood (No, really!)
If you work in the health and food industry, you’ve probably heard stories about athletes guzzling down beet juice shots to improve their performance. Chefs are also incorporating purées into antioxidant-rich chocolate desserts to create a superfood recipe.
Even food manufacturers are making healthy snacking options such as dehydrated beet chips, single-serving marinated beets, and organic juices. Furthermore, concentrated powders are sold as dietary supplements to improve endurance.
Beets are now being probed by doctors as a natural treatment for cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and the sluggishness that can accompany aging.
In this article, we’re going to shine a light on what is mere speculation, and what the actual powerful health and gout-fighting benefits (if any) that beets may provide.
Beet Juice as a Pre-workout Supplement
Athletic teams are increasingly using beet juice as a pre-workout supplement, according to reports. However, the problem with most superfoods is that you usually need to consume “super” amounts of them to see any noticeable benefits. Not only that, but you must also consume them at just the right time!
Of course, this only adds to the already high level of skepticism among consumers. However, studies have shown that a two-cup serving of beet juice may help with blood-flow disorders.
Additionally, other studies have demonstrated that it is advisable to consume beets two and a half to three hours prior to exercise for athletes looking to exercise at low intensities for longer periods of time.
But then again, there are also practical challenges you need to take into consideration. Anyone who has eaten a lot of beets in one sitting knows how unpleasant that metallic aftertaste can be.
Without a doubt, consuming a hefty portion of beets daily can be quite a big challenge for even the most determined person.
Nevertheless, you can bet that the marketing machine is in full swing, and beets will emerge as the next superfood.
Beet Supplement Products
Well-stocked stores will have the following items:
- BeetElite: a powdered concentrate “sports endurance shot” that mixes with cold water to provide the nutrition of six beets at once.
- Red Ace Organics: “Shots” of beet-juice blends.
- Love Beets: also makes snack packs of smoky barbecue shredded beets and marinated baby beets.
- Rhythm Superfoods: Crispy, crunchy beet chips, seasoned with sea salt or cinnamon and coconut sugar.
Beets Are Propelling Culinary Innovation
Because beets have a strong flavor and color, a little goes a long way. This enables manufacturers to capitalize on beets’ health halo, even if they only constitute a minor portion of the contents.
Beets’ distinct flavor and color have also helped put them on the radar of chefs who can create creative combinations of exotic ingredients to make unique pastries. If this is what it takes for Americans to fall in love with beets, it appears to be working!
Let’s look more closely at beets, their health benefits, and their potential gout-fighting properties.
A Quick History of Beets
Beets are thought to have originated in the Mediterranean region, according to ancient records. The ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans primarily cultivated them for their edible leaves.
The roots, which were thin and fibrous at the time, were used for medicine and dyeing. They were even used as an aphrodisiac in ancient Rome!
The first significant increase in beetroot cultivation for human consumption did not occur until the early to mid-16th century. By this point, the roots most likely resembled parsnips. By the early 17th century, they were beginning to resemble the larger ball-like roots we’re familiar with today.
In 2018, the top beet producers worldwide were Poland, Germany, Turkey, Russia, France, the United States, and France. They are referred to as beets in North America but as beetroot in the UK and most other English-speaking nations.
A Closer Look at Beets
Though they look similar to turnips, beets are root vegetable that belongs to a different plant family. They are usually dark red or purple in color. They can, however, be found in yellow, white, or red and white.
Beetroot can be eaten raw (for example, in a slaw, salad, or dip), pickled, steamed, boiled, or roasted. The green leaves can also be cooked and eaten. There’s also nutrient-dense beet juice to consider.
Beets are a tough root vegetable that is grown all over the world. The most common type of beet sold in grocery stores is Beta vulgaris, but there are many other varieties. They have an earthy, sweet flavor that many people enjoy, and they are packed with nutrients.
Beets are a type of durable vegetable that is grown throughout the world. Beta vulgaris is the most common type of beet sold in grocery stores, but there are many other varieties. Of course, it’s common to see many other types of beets sold in marketplaces.
They are also known for their earthy, sweet taste that people either love or stay away from. One thing is for sure, though, they come absolutely stacked with nutritional benefits.
Health Benefits of Beets
Beets contain a lot of nutrients like calcium, iron, potassium, and protein. They do, however, provide some additional powerful benefits that many people are unaware of. Here are a few examples:
Stacked With Nutrients, Low in Calories
Beets have an excellent nutritional profile. They are low in calories while being high in essential vitamins and minerals. In fact, they contain a small amount of almost every vitamin and mineral your body requires.
A 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of boiled beetroot contains the following nutrients:
- Calories: 44
- Protein: 1.7 grams
- Fat: 0.2 grams
- Carbs: 10 grams
- Fiber: 2 grams
- Folate: 20% of the Daily Value (DV)
- Manganese: 14% of the DV
- Copper: 8% of the DV
- Potassium: 7% of the DV
- Magnesium: 6% of the DV
- Vitamin C: 4% of the DV
- Vitamin B6: 4% of the DV
- Iron: 4% of the DV
Beets are especially high in folate, a vitamin that is essential for growth, development, and heart health. They also have a high manganese content, which aids in bone formation, nutrient metabolism, brain function, and other processes.
They’re also high in copper, an essential mineral for energy production and the synthesis of certain neurotransmitters.
Helps Reduce Inflammation
The bright red color of beets is caused by compounds known as betalains. Betalains have potent antioxidant properties and may aid in the reduction of inflammation. Nitrates, which are found in beets, also help to reduce inflammation by removing harmful compounds from the bloodstream.
Because of the combination of betalains and nitrates, beets are an excellent choice for people suffering from inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis or fibromyalgia.
In one study, it was discovered that beetroot juice and extract reduced kidney inflammation in rats given injections of harmful chemicals. More research in humans is still required to determine whether eating beets in a healthy diet in moderation could have the same anti-inflammatory effects.
Beets May Reduce the Risk of Heart Disease
Beet nitrates not only reduce inflammation, but they also improve heart health. Nitrates have been shown in studies to lower blood pressure. Beets are also naturally low in cholesterol and fat, making them an excellent choice for people who are concerned about heart disease or stroke.
Beets are also high in folate and betaine. Together, these nutrients work to reduce homocysteine levels in the blood, which may raise your risk of heart disease by inflaming the arteries.
Beneficial for Your Eyesight
Beetroots are also good for your eyesight. That’s because they contain a substance called lutein. Lutein has been found to be beneficial in preserving your vision for a longer time and guard against senior vision loss.
Beets also have a high concentration of phytochemicals, which may benefit the health of your eyes and nerve tissues.
Beets May Aid in the Fight Against Cancer
According to research, beets are high in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents, which may help reduce the risk of certain cancers. Betacyanin, a plant pigment that preliminary research suggests may help protect cells from harmful carcinogens, gives them their bright red color.
Furthermore, high levels of a specific fibre found in beets may be associated with a lower risk of colon cancer.
Helps Boost Your Energy Level
The mitochondria in your cells are in charge of producing the energy required for them to function. Beet nitrates have been shown in studies to improve the function of these cellular powerhouses. Some athletes even consume beet juice prior to exercise in order to improve their performance.
Researchers in the United Kingdom discovered that athletes who drank beet juice mixed with a little apple juice before working out had better endurance and lower resting blood pressure than those who did not.
The nitrates found in the root are thought to be responsible for the performance boost. According to additional research, a beet-apple juice mixture may make certain activities (such as walking) less exhausting for seniors.
Beets May Help Lower the Risk of Dementia
According to a study conducted at the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom, drinking beetroot juice may increase stamina by 16% due to its high nitrate content. The study discovered that this single factor, known to increase the body’s oxygen uptake. In addition, it could also aid in brain function and delay the onset of dementia.
Beets produce nitric acid, which aids in the circulation of blood throughout the body, including the brain. MRIs on older adults revealed that after consuming a high-nitrate diet that included beet juice, the subjects’ blood flow to the white matter of their frontal lobes increased.
Beets Help With Constipation
Beets contain a lot of fiber, which helps your digestive system run smoothly. Because of its high soluble fibre content, beetroot is an excellent laxative. It softens stools, which promotes regular bowel movements. It also cleanses the colon and flushes harmful toxins from the stomach. Here are some natural constipation remedies.
Helps May Control Diabetes
Diabetes patients can satisfy their sweet tooth by including a little beetroot in their diet. Because it has a medium glycemic index (meaning it releases sugars slowly into the blood), it helps to keep your blood sugar levels stable while satisfying your sugar craving. This vegetable is also low in calories and fat, making it ideal for diabetics.
Helps Treat Anemia
According to a widespread misconception, beetroot’s reddish color indicates that it replaces lost blood, making it an effective treatment for anemia. While many might find this a little absurd, there is a small amount of truth in the myth.
Iron is abundant in beetroot. Iron aids in the formation of haemagglutinin, a component of blood that aids in the transport of oxygen and nutrients throughout the body. The iron content, not the color, aids in the treatment of anemia.
Helps Treat Osteoporosis
Beetroot is high in the mineral silica, which helps the body use calcium efficiently. Because calcium is found in our bones and teeth, drinking a glass of beetroot juice every day may help prevent conditions like osteoporosis and brittle bone disease.
Do Beets Really Contain Gout-Fighting Properties?
While the evidence suggests that eating beets on a regular basis may provide numerous health benefits, gout patients should not be so quick to jump on the beet bandwagon just yet.
Gout is a severe form of inflammatory arthritis caused by abnormally high uric acid levels in the blood, which causes the precipitation of monosodium urate crystals in the joints and connective tissue. These trigger an inflammatory response, resulting in excruciating gout flare-up symptoms (attack).
Uric acid is a natural byproduct of purine metabolism, which occurs in both your body’s cells and the cells of the food you eat. Gout patients are usually advised to avoid high purine foods like game and organ meat and limit moderately high purine foods like beef, pork, and lamb. This is because food accounts for approximately 30% of your body’s total purines.
Beets are low in purine, producing less than 100 mg of uric acid per 3.5 oz (100 g). Not only that but beets, like most vegetables, are alkaline-forming when digested. This helps to maintain a more alkaline blood and urine environment, lowering the risk of urate crystal formation.
However, beets are high in oxalate, an organic substance found in both plants and humans, which may be a major drawback.
Kidney Stones and Oxalate
Kidney stones may be caused by eating too much oxalate. High risk factors for kidney stones include:
- having a personal or family history of the condition
- being overweight or obese
- having conditions like inflammatory bowel disease, renal tubular acidosis, or urinary tract infections, as well as taking certain drugs like diuretics or water pills.
Those with a high risk of developing kidney stones are typically advised to avoid or consume only a small number of foods high in oxalate.
However, beets are an excellent source of fiber, magnesium, potassium, iron, folate, and antioxidants that help to support the immune system, lower blood pressure, maintain heart health, promote strong bones and teeth, and maintain bowel function.
Even if you are at risk, you might still be able to eat them as long as you do so in moderation and cook them to further reduce the oxalate content. Always consult your doctor first, as I always advise.
Gout Patients Should Steer Clear of High Oxalate Food
Oxalate is an organic compound found in many plant foods that is also produced as a waste product by the body. As we consume these foods, oxalate molecules pass through our digestive tract. Some of them form tiny crystal-like structures here by interacting with calcium molecules.
These calcium-oxalate “pairs” can repeatedly bind with other calcium-oxalate pairs when this occurs in the kidneys. A kidney stone may result from this and grow much larger and more solid. This is how nearly 80% of kidney stones develop.
Oxalate concentrations vary from food to food. However, some have such high concentrations that people who are predisposed to kidney stones are advised by their doctors to avoid them entirely.
Substitute Low-Oxalate, Low-Purine Foods for High-Oxalate Foods
Oxalate-rich foods contain a lot of antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. You may miss out on important health benefits if you must avoid them because you are in the high-risk group.
As a gout sufferer in a high-risk group, there are still plenty of low-oxalate, low-purine vegetables, fruit, and dairy products that may give you all the nutrients you require even in the absence of high-oxalate foods.
- Vegetables: Artichokes, kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, lettuce, corn, onions, and bell peppers are examples of vegetables that are low in oxalate and purine. Although low in oxalate, cauliflower contains a moderate amount of purines and should therefore be consumed in moderation.
- Fruit: There are still many fruits that are low in oxalate that you can eat. You can eat apples, apricots, avocado, bananas, grapefruit, dark colored grapes, melons, nectarines, peaches, strawberries, and pineapples, for example. They are also low in purines, of course.
- Dairy: Purines and oxalate levels are low in low-fat dairy products such as milk, butter, yogurt, cheese, and eggs. Another advantage is that dairy products are generally high in calcium. And there is some evidence that, contrary to popular belief, increasing dietary calcium may help reduce the risk of kidney stones.
The Dangers of Eating Beets
With all the publicity surrounding the numerous health benefits of beets, some people have gone overboard, consuming extremely large amounts of beets or beet juice on a daily basis.
Beets, believe it or not, have some negative effects. Here are a few more of them:
Beeturia is a condition in which the urine and occasionally the stool turn red as a result of consuming an excessive number of beets. Urine and stool may be deep red or pinkish depending on the amount consumed.
Beeturia is not dangerous, but it can be frightening for those who are unfamiliar with it because it appears that your urine and stool are full of blood. This effect should subside 48 hours after eating the beets. If not, you should see a doctor.
Risky Blood Pressure Drops
Blood pressure management in hypertensive people is at the top of the list of beet medicinal uses. They have a high rate of success in lowering blood pressure. On the other hand, if you already have low blood pressure, eating beets will lower it even further, potentially to dangerous levels.
If you have low blood pressure, consult your doctor about how much beet is safe for you.
Beets Are Generally Not Recommended for Gout Patients
As previously stated, beets are high in oxalate, which raises the risk of calcium-oxalate kidney stones. These may impair the kidney’s ability to excrete uric acid efficiently. In addition, it may potentially lead to elevated uric acid levels in the blood and an increased risk of a gout flare-up.
Overall, someone with gout may be better off avoiding beets. This is especially true given the abundance of low-purine, low-oxalate, nutritious vegetables available. Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower (moderately high in purines), celery, kale, radish, squash, zucchini, and many other foods are completely safe for gout patients to consume.
Tread Carefully with Beets
If you have gout, I recommend that you avoid it completely to give yourself some peace of mind. Yes, beets have numerous potential health benefits; however, due to the nature of gout disease, consuming beets has been linked with several health risks, all of which are related to gout.
To begin with, beets may cause gout. It is unclear how and why this occurs, but I believe they raise uric acid levels over time and reduce the body’s ability to remove uric acid.
All gout patients must avoid any action, food, or beverage that may aggravate their condition. Kidney stones may impair kidney function, reducing your body’s ability to eliminate uric acid. The bottom line is that you are more likely to suffer from gout.
Yes, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing, and beets are a prime example. Beets are extremely nutritious, but they do pose some risks. If you have gout, kidney stones or kidney disease, talk to your doctor about how much beet is safe for you.