Beets For Recovery

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By: Hayley Harris

By: Hayley Harris

Registered Dietitian, Health and Fitness Instructor, and Recipe Developer

It’s not news that vegetables are an important part of a healthy diet, but did you know that their benefits reach beyond vitamins and minerals? Vegetables are rich in compounds called “phytonutrients” which are a variety of chemicals that have been found to be especially beneficial to human health. 

Phytonutrients can have a range of benefits such as preventing disease, promoting optimal health of organs and tissues, and helping your body manage inflammation. The benefits don’t stop there as the health effects of phytonutrients are still being uncovered by nutrition research, especially in the area of sports nutrition. 

If you are health conscious it’s likely you already include many vegetables in your diet. What many don’t realize is that they might be missing out on a certain vegetable that can play a role in a speedier recovery! 

B is for Betalains

Beets are not as commonly consumed as other popular vegetables, yet if you live an active lifestyle, you should be utilizing their amazing benefits! The powerful phytonutrients that are found almost exclusively in beets are called “betalains.” 

These compounds are plant pigments that give beets their rich red color and work as powerful antioxidants and modulators of inflammation. These betalains have also been responsible for the hype surrounding beet juice consumption for workout recovery. The phytonutrients found in beets speed up muscle recovery time following intense exercise. 

In clinical studies it has been found that the consumption of beet juice helps relieve muscle pain and regain muscle strength quicker than if you did not consume it (1,2,3). There is also evidence of improved athletic performance in later workouts for those who use beets to help them recover (4). The naturally occurring nitric oxide found in beets also helps improve the delivery of oxygen to muscular tissues during workouts, which in turn improves metabolic recovery as well, making you ready for your next workout much sooner (5)!

If you are looking to utilize betalains to boost recovery following your own workouts, try consuming beets often and drinking beetroot juice before or right after a workout. In clinical trials benefits continue for a whole 24 hours after consumption (4). 

Preparation is King

Beets may get a bad rap for being difficult to prepare, but actually, they are quite easy! Steaming beets is the best way to retain nutrients. A quick 15 minute steam in a pressure cooker is all it takes! If you don’t have a pressure cooker, steaming over the stove takes 20-35 minutes depending on the size of the beets. Keep the skins on until after they are cooked to keep phytonutrients from escaping. Once they are soft, the skin will peel right off! 

If you have found that the beets have stained your cutting board or fingers, simply treat the area with fresh lemon juice. Try adding sliced, cooked beets on top of salads, tossed with feta and balsamic vinegar, or blended into hummus for a special treat! You can even add raw beets to smoothies for a great post-workout snack! No matter how you eat them, the benefits are worth the extra effort!

Beets are packed with miraculous benefits and will allow you to get back into your active lifestyle after intense exercise. If you are looking for an all-natural, delicious way to improve recovery time, try adding beets to your menu this week! 

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