Beet greens are the dark green leafy tops of the beetroot plant. The root is well-known as a healthy food choice, but the greens contain more vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Farmers harvest the plants when they are young to obtain tender leaves and stems. We can eat these greens raw in salads and braised, steamed, or sauteed. The health benefits of beet greens are extensive, while the pleasant taste and crisps texture make it easy to incorporate into meals on a regular basis.
The body does not always digest roughage, more commonly referred to as fiber. Instead, the nutrient passes through the digestive system and regulates bowel movements. As such, doctors often recommend it to prevent constipation. Both soluble and insoluble fiber are essential to healthy digestion. Beet greens contain significant amounts of both types, and have similar properties to prebiotics, stimulating healthy bacterial growth in the digestive tract.
Beet greens have a high concentration of potassium and help increase nitrates. Potassium is a key element in regulating blood pressure. Nitrates are converted to nitric oxide to expand blood vessels and reduce platelet aggregation to prevent blockages or blood clots. A substance known as betaine is also found in beet greens and acts on specific amino acids to inhibit plaque development in arteries.
Beet greens are an excellent source of manganese, folate, copper, silica, and magnesium. These vitamins and minerals are important for bone strength. Calcium is vital to bone growth and healing, but it is not easy for the digestive system to break down and absorb. Some calcium from food or supplements is always lost and expelled in waste. The silica contained in beet greens enhances calcium absorption, enabling the body to use a higher percentage of what it takes in.
Vitamin K is necessary for bone formation and regulating clotting factors in the blood. Beet greens are packed with enough vitamin K to provide more than the recommended daily intake in just one serving. Vitamin K can also limit damage to neurons in the brain, so it is often recommended to slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease.
Beet greens are rich in iron, an essential component of the hemoglobin within red blood cells that binds with oxygen to carry it through the body. We obtain iron from a variety of foods, but the most commonly known sources are foods sourced from animals. Beet greens are an easily accessible source of iron because they grow in many locations around the globe and fit into a vegan or vegetarian diet.
Beet greens are a rich source of the phytochemical zeaxanthin, which the retinal tissue in the eye absorbs. This phytochemical protects the eyes from UV light and acts as an antioxidant to prevent retinal detachment and inhibit macular degeneration. Vitamin A, lutein, and beta-carotene are the most important nutrients required for healthy eyes and vision. All three are present in beet greens.
Beet greens are rich in vitamin C. This water-soluble vitamin acts as a coenzyme in the synthesis of several amino acids and facilitates collagen production. Collagen is a protein used to form and strengthen skin, bones, teeth, white blood cells, and blood vessels. Vitamin C also assists the immune system by limiting free radicals. A third of the daily recommended intake of vitamin C is present in half a cup of beet greens.
Beet greens are a good addition to diet before or during pregnancy because they contain folate or vitamin B9. The rapid growth of a baby's cells and tissues during pregnancy requires a significant amount of folate, an essential vitamin that forms and ensures the proper function of the nervous system. Folate is necessary for adults and infants to regenerate red blood cells and various cell types in the immune system. Ensuring you meet the recommended daily intake of folate when pregnant lowers your baby's risk of certain congenital disabilities and neurodegenerative disorders.
The B-complex vitamins and nitrates in beet greens include riboflavin, niacin, and pyridoxine. These vitamins function as coenzymes to enhance metabolic efficiency by increasing absorption of nutrients and improving energy production. Nitrates slow the digestive process to gain more nutritional benefits from food, and convert fat-storing cells from white to brown. Brown fat cells are utilized for energy at a higher rate than white fat cells, so this process can be very helpful for those seeking to lose excess weight.
Every cell in the body contains chromosomes. Telomeres are lengths of DNA at the tips of chromosomes. Telomeres enable cell division and shorten each time division occurs, until the telomere is gone and the cell dies. The complex and extensive combination of nutrients in beet greens protects telomeres by resisting damage and minimizing shortening during cell division. This process slows the effects of aging and inhibits cancerous cell growth.
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