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

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

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Beets fight cancer

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 colour from betacyanin, a plant pigment that some preliminary research indicates might help defend cells against harmful carcinogens. Also, high levels of a unique fibre found in beets may be linked to a lower colon cancer risk.

These are the cancer symptoms you should never ignore.

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Beets lower risk of heart disease

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.

Read up on these facts about heart disease in women.

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Beets boost eye health

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.

To keep your peepers healthy, follow these other eye care tips too.

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Beets boost endurance

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.

Check out these great workouts for people who hate exercise.

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Beets reduce dementia risk

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.

Here are more ways to reduce your risk of dementia.

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Beets combat constipation

Fibre helps keep your digestive system running smoothly, and beets are chock full of it.

Check out these home remedies for constipation.

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Health risk: Beets contribute to kidney stones

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.

Learn to spot the hidden signs of kidney cancer.

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Health risk: Beets could cause gout

Beets are high in oxalate, which can contribute to a health condition called gout, a type of arthritis that develops when too much uric acid builds up in the body.

Try these science-backed home remedies for arthritis pain.

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Health risk: Beets discolour 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.

Next, read up on the best foods to prevent ulcers.

Originally Published in Reader's Digest