What You Don’t Know About Beets: Health Benefits and Risks

Beets are packed with healthy nutrients, like five essential vitamins, calcium, iron, potassium, and protein. But they can also have some surprising side effects.

View as Slideshow

Health Benefit: Beets fight cancer

Health Benefit: Beets fight cancer iStock/Thinkstock
Beets contain high levels of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agents that studies show may help reduce the risk of some cancers. They get their striking red color from betacyanin, a plant pigment that some preliminary research indicates might help defend cells against harmful carcinogens. Also, high levels of a unique fiber found in beets may be linked to a lower colon cancer risk. Dr. Mehmet Oz has said on sharecare.com that adding a quarter cup of beets to your daily diet could cut your kidney cancer risk.

Health Benefit: Beets lower risk of heart disease

Health Benefit: Beets lower risk of heart disease iStock/Thinkstock
Beets are a good source of folate and betaine. These nutrients act together to help lower blood levels of homocysteine, which can increase your risk of heart disease by causing artery-damaging inflammation.

Health Benefit: Beets boost eye health

Health Benefit: Beets boost eye healthiStock/Thinkstock
Beet greens are a good source of lutein, an antioxidant that helps protect the eyes from age-related macular degeneration and cataracts. They also contain a wide variety of phytochemicals that may help improve the health of your eyes and nerve tissues.

Content continues below ad

Health Benefit: Beets boost endurance

Health Benefit: Beets boost endurance iStock/Thinkstock
British researchers conducted studies that found athletes who drank beet juice mixed with a little apple juice before working out reported better endurance and a lower resting blood pressure than those who did not. The performance boost is thought to be from the nitrates found in the root. Additional research suggests that a beet-apple juice mixture could make certain activities (like walking) less exhausting for seniors.

Health Benefit: Beets reduce dementia risk

Health Benefit: Beets reduce dementia risk iStock/Thinkstock
Beets produce nitric acid, which helps increase blood flow throughout your body, including to your brain. MRIs done on older adults showed that after eating a high-nitrate diet that included beet juice, the subjects had more blood flow to the white matter of their frontal lobes.

Health Benefit: Beets combat constipation

Health Benefit: Beets combat constipation
Fiber helps keep your digestive system running smoothly, and beets are chock full of it.

Content continues below ad

Health Risk: Beets contribute to kidney stones

Health Risk: Beets contribute to kidney stonesiStock/Thinkstock
If you're prone to kidney stones, you might want to eat beet greens with caution. They're high in oxalates, which can form small crystals and contribute to the development of kidney stones. 

Health Risk: Beets could cause gout

Health Risk: Beets could cause gout Hemera/Thinkstock
Beets are high in oxalate, which can contribute to gout, a type of arthritis that develops when too much uric acid builds up in the body.

Health Risk: Beets discolor your stool

Health Risk: Beets discolor your stool
You might find beets help you go to the bathroom, but don't be alarmed if your urine or stool is pink or red. It's not blood; and is actually harmless.

Want to stay smart and healthy?

Get our weekly Health Reads newsletter

how we use your e-mail
We will use your email address to send you the newsletter each week, and we may also send you occasional special offers from Reader's Digest. For more information please read our privacy policy.

Funny Jokes

Some people like to travel by train because 
it combines the slowness of a car with the cramped public exposure of 
an airplane.

Dennis Miller

Funny Jokes

I think my pilot was a little inexperienced. We were sitting on the runway, and he said, “OK, folks, we’re gonna be taking off in a just few—whoa! Here we go.”

Kevin Nealon

Funny Jokes

“I can’t wait until your vacation is over.” 
—Everyone following you on Instagram

@kristencarney

Funny Jokes

A man knocked on my door and asked for a donation toward the local swimming pool. So I gave him a glass of water.

Comedian Greg Davies

Funny Jokes

Just found the worst page in the entire dictionary. What I saw was disgraceful, disgusting, dishonest, and disingenuous.

@sixthformpoet

Funny Jokes

Client: We need you to log in to the YouTube and make all our company videos viral.

From clientsfromhell.net

Funny Jokes

My cat just walked up to the paper shredder and said, “Teach me 
everything you know.”

@NicCageMatch

Funny Jokes

“Just because you can’t dance doesn’t mean you shouldn’t dance.” 
—Alcohol

@yoyoha (Josh Hara)

Funny Jokes

My parents didn’t want to move to Florida, but they turned 60 and that’s the law.

—Jerry Seinfeld

Funny Jokes

Q: What do you call an Amish guy with his hand in a horse’s mouth?

A: A mechanic.

Fields marked with an * are required
Foods That Harm Foods That HealWant a Free eBook?
FOODS THAT HARM, FOODS THAT HEAL offers important information about the role diet plays in the struggle against heart disease, cancer, diabetes and other serious illnesses. Answer the question below to receive your FREE digital eBook.

Someone in my household experiences the following conditions:

Send me a link to download FOODS THAT HARM, FOODS THAT HEAL:
By clicking below, I agree to the Trusted Media Brands Privacy Policy