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Beets and Bowel Movements
Related Links
The Color of Your Bowels- What It Means
Bowel Movements Indicate Your Overall Health
3 Keys to Normal Bowels
Why Americans Read In Bathrooms-The Hidden Epidemic of Constipation
Fiber Rich Foods
Beets Reduce High Blood Pressure
Bad Sleep Linked to Heart Disease
Snoring Increases Risk of Stroke
Ideal Breakfast for Diabetics
Waist Size Matters
My Heart Attack-Personal Stories from Survivors
How Much Sugar Is In Your Food?
How Much Is Too Much Salt?
Urine Color -What Does It Mean?
Child Constipation-Top Ten Natural Remedies
Diarrhea-Tips to Stop It
Tongue Color Chart
Can't Find an Article?-Index of Conditions
March 7, 2009, last updated January 18, 2013

By Natalia Real, Contributing Columnist and Susan Callahan,
Health Editor


Beets, technically known as "beta vulgaris", are a staple of
diets around the world. They are also one of the most common
causes for alarm related to red or purplish bowel color.  Did
you ever go to the bathroom, only to become appalled by the
vivid
color of your bowel movements? Did you freak out? I did.
I thought I must have been deathly ill.  But when your bowels
color is due to beets,  purplish bowel movements (and
sometimes urine too) are completely innocuous. It’s called
"beeturia." Color aside, can beets help to relieve constipation?
Can beets improve your bowel movements?

The reason red/purple beets turn bowel movements and
sometimes urine a dark shade of red/purple is beets’ variety of
betalain pigments, which in these specific beet varieties are
collectively known as betacyanin.  


























These pigments are located in unstable cell vacuoles, which is
why they “leak” the pigments so readily when you chop, heat,
or even touch peeled beets.

Solution? Leave the skin on the beets while cooking (so the cell
vacuoles remain intact), let them cool, and then peel them (at
which point, you probably will stain everything you touch
purple).   

Health Benefits of Beets

Now, let’s talk about the health benefits and nutrients of beets.  
Beets are fabulous to prevent and cure constipation. Just start
munching, and if the beets are raw, all the better, because then
they’ll have twice as much fiber as they would if cooked.

[Update:

Beets are relatively high in fiber. A half a cup of beets contains
1.8 grams of fiber, and about 1 gram of that total is insoluble
fiber, according to a report from Harvard University Health
Services.]

Further, despite the fact that you can use beets to treat
constipation, you can also eat or juice them to help relieve
diarrhea, since beets have cleansing properties and thus aid in
detoxifying the liver.

Beets are also high in potassium, which your body loses a lot of
through diarrhea.  You need potassium to
reduce high blood
pressure among other things.  

The beet is one of the most nourishing vegetables around, very
similar to spinach in this respect. Just like all plant-based foods,
including seeds and nuts, even light steaming will destroy the
enzymes in beets and much of its nutritional content.

Consequently, if you’ve never tried raw beets—go ahead! They
are crunchy and fun, especially in salads.

Now, the down side. Beets are relatively high in sugar (9.2 g.
/cup). But, apart from that, they’re simply fantastic: high in
folate (37%), manganese (22%), potassium (13%), fiber (4
g.), vitamin C (11%), magnesium (8%), tryptophan, iron,
copper, and phosphorus and low in calories (about 58 kcal).

The betaine in beets helps fight inflammation too. Along with
spinach and whole wheat foods, beets are the primary sources
of betaine.   Did that read like some abstruse, obsolete
language to you? Let me rephrase: beets help ward off heart
disease,
osteoporosis, cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s, birth
defects, and certain cancers (colon cancer in particular, due to
beet’s high fiber content).

Many studies have confirmed
beets’ cancer-fighting properties,
particularly against colon but also against stomach cancer. If
you’ve ever cursed beets for staining your clothes, washcloth,
dog, and so on, know that the very pigment guilty for the
food's red/purple color, betacyanin, is also a robust cancer-
fighting agent.

And do remember that even light cooking harms beets’ cancer-
fighting and other nutritional properties, so, at most, very
lightly steam or boil them. Boiled beets’ nutritional content
drops dramatically (compare to the amounts in raw beets
described above): folate (17%/cup), manganese (14%),
potassium (7%), fiber (2 g.), vitamin C (5%), and so on.  

Bottom line: When you’re looking to make your salads, snacks,
sauces, etc. more interesting, consider adding beets to your
dishes. Especially when raw, beets are certainly hard to beat!
Ha. Ha.                               

More from this author?

Find out more intriguing links between food and health or learn
more about good bowel health:
Why Americans Read In Bathrooms-The Hidden Epidemic of
Constipation

The Color of Your Bowels--What It Means

Bowels -3 Keys to Normal Bowels

Exercises That Increase Bowel Movements

Diet and Exercise-A Simple Plan

Snoring Increases Your Risk of Stroke 67%

Six Pack Abs--Step By Step

Foods That Reduce Blood Pressure

Foods That Shrink Your Waist

Owning a Cat Reduces Risk of Stroke 40%

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