Beets and Blood Sugar (What You Need to Know)

Beets or beetroot are a root vegetable dug from the ground that are rich in a wide variety of nutrients and known to have a sweet but subtle taste. They are not a strong vegetable taste wise, but their punch comes in with their healthy benefits. Their health benefits are many, and people such as those living with diabetes could find incredible relief and nutritional support with vegetables such as beets.

Beets can help to provide insulin resistance, lower blood sugar, and are rich in many antioxidants that can help anyone to fight chronic disease. Learn everything you need to know about beets and blood sugar right here.

Health Benefits of Eating Beets (Or Drinking Beet Juice)

If you choose to add beets to your diet, you can do so a number of ways, through eating beets or drinking beet juice. The nutritional value remains the same, even regardless of how you are cooking them. There are many benefits to eating beets, that include the benefits of adding a vegetable high in antioxidant to your diet, adding a vegetable that will improve circulation and blood flow, and the benefits of a high fiber vegetable that contributes to overall health and helps you to fight disease.

One health benefit of beets is that it offers anti-inflammatory properties, and this is something that people with Type 2 diabetes really need. Beet juice or in cooked form launches anti-inflammatory action in the blood that can help to reduce joint pain or other inflammation issues. This benefit is a result of the high content of betalains in beets, which can help relieve pain from inflammation for diabetics.

Additionally, beets are high in fiber and this can bring great relief to diabetics. A high fiber diet will help to control weight, and also help to bring relief and control cholesterol. There is a wide body of research that indicates that maintaining a diet that is high in fiber will also be very helpful to controlling blood sugar levels.

Beets are also known to be high in nitrates, a chemical that can help with blood circulation and blood pressure, something that really is important for diabetics. Including beets in your diet could result in more energy and stamina, and help you to add more cardiovascular exercise into your daily life, even if it is just a daily walk. Studies indicate that beets contribute to cardiovascular endurance, as the beets will turn nitrates into nitric acid that will give you energy for longer periods of time. Having a beet salad about an hour before a walk can help tremendously. These nitric benefits also offer a significant benefit to your overall blood pressure.

Is Eating Beets Good for Diabetics?

The connection between beets and blood sugar is clear, and the science supports a yes to the question, do beets help lower blood sugar. So, yeas eating beets can be good for diabetics. In addition to helping control blood sugar, beets help to improve the nerve damage that diabetes causes, and also help to reduce your insulin resistance. Beets are rich in chemicals known as phytochemicals that regulate glucose levels and insulin levels. One study from 2014 looked at what happened to blood glucose levels after beets or beetroot juice was consumed. After consuming just under one half a cup of beetroot juice, researchers saw a reduction in glucose levels when compared to control groups that did not consume beetroot juice.

Eating Beets as a Diabetic

There is some research that also supports beets insulin resistant properties, and that again is caused by the many nitrates found in beets. The nitrates that result in insulin resistance are found normally in all healthy humans, but they may be in lower quantities in those with diabetes. This can contribute to risk factors that include a higher risk for chronic disease or cardiovascular problems common to diabetics. The antioxidant properties found in beets are the key to chronic disease control when including this in your diet. Beets are rich in antioxidants that help to fight the free radicals in the blood that cause cell damage.

One study from 2017 examined obese participants that consumed beet juice and complex carbohydrates and found that insulin resistance was lowered in the group that consumed beet juice. This is just one of many studies that indicate that eating beets is healthy for anyone, but would be particularly beneficial to those with diabetes. It is estimated that a single beet weighing 3.5 ounces will have more than 1.5 millimoles of antioxidants, and that is the chemical known as betalain. This chemical is the same chemical that gives beets its dark purple and reddish hue.

In a nutshell, beets help to reduce blood sugar in a number of ways. They are rich in antioxidants, nitrates, and contribute to the lowering of insulin resistance. They also help to improve blood flow and fight chronic disease. All of these benefits are going to be key in helping you control your blood sugar and blood glucose levels by adding more beets or beetroot juice to your diet.

How to Add Beets To Your Diet

There are many ways to add beets to your diet. Choose your favorite way of preparing vegetables, and make your beets that way, and you will be able to enjoy their nutritional value and benefits. Steaming or roasting beets will not have any impact on their nutritional value. Beets can also be eaten raw or consumed as a beverage in beet juice.

Canned beets are going to have exactly the same nutritional value that fresh beets from the market or garden will provide. You can serve them cold, sliced in a salad with some nuts and your favorite dressing and enjoy a lovely beet dish that will provide immediate benefits. Beets also pair well with cheeses like goat cheese or feta, as their earthy flavor marries well with the tart strength of a soft cheese. Blue cheese is also popular with beets in a salad or other dish.

You can mix beets with chickpeas to make a sweet hummus type dip as well, that offers a beautiful pink color. Another way you can eat them cold is in a smoothie, by blending them and drinking them your way with your own added ingredients such as yogurt, vanilla, or other vegetable ingredients.

Roasting or steaming beets is also a very healthy way of preparing them. You can slice them into thin slices and put them in the oven to make crispy beet fries. Bread them to create beet veggie wedges and bake them with some garlic and onion. Steaming or boiling them will let you to eat them on their own and let their flavor and nutritional power speak for itself.

Beets can also be consumed in liquid form. You can make a smoothie of them or buy beetroot juice from the grocery store or health food store. Some stores will also offer powdered beet supplements that you can add to the liquid of your choice to make a healthy nutrient rich beet juice that will lower blood sugar, provide antioxidants, and help you to fight chronic disease.

Begin Eating Beets Today

The connections between beets and blood sugar are clear. Beets are a healthy choice for many other reasons as well. This vegetable is particularly beneficial to diabetics, as studies indicate it can help to lower blood sugar, lower insulin resistance, and it also helps to fight chronic disease as it is rich in antioxidants. Additionally, beets can help to improve cardiovascular function and provide the physical and brain stamina you need to stay active when you are dealing with diabetes. Begin eating beets today and you’ll feel better with your choices.

Sean Byers, MD

Sean Byers, MD

Sean Byers is currently a Resident in the Internal Medicine program at UTMB. He studied at the University of Queensland School of Medicine as well as received his Master’s in Public Health with a focus in epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of Southern California. His background is in biology, computer science, public health, and internal medicine.

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