Beets are an incredible and highly underrated food, especially regarding eating beets for diabetes and healthy blood glucose levels. But how are beets good for diabetes? The answer might surprise you, but beets can be incredibly beneficial for diabetes and insulin resistance, even though they are a sweet-tasting root vegetable!
A study following 44 type 2 diabetics has shown beneficial impacts on glucose metabolism, cognitive function, and other metabolic markers that were studied. Their gorgeous color comes from the phytonutrient betalain, which provides excellent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits.
While their high nitrate content helps to remove harmful compounds from your bloodstream, your body converts nitrate into nitric oxide. And this compound lowers blood pressure by relaxing and dilating blood vessels.
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Benefits of beetroot for diabetes
Beets are a healthy vegetable packed full of essential nutrients, including vitamin c, folate, betaine, potassium, and manganese, along with other essential nutrients, making them a good option for people with diabetes looking to combat chronic inflammation and lower blood pressure.
Beets are also rich in fiber and contain 3.8 grams of fiber per cup, which is important for reducing blood sugar spikes. Fiber-rich foods such as raw beets are critical for type 2 diabetics to incorporate into every meal. Your body does not digest fiber, it moves right through you, so it doesn’t spike your blood sugar or trigger the pancreas to release insulin.
I think of fiber as an internal scrub brush that moves through your digestive tract and removes built-up bacteria. Making sure that each meal has plenty of fiber will improve gut health and allow you to keep a low glycemic load.
I also talked a bit about the benefits of fiber for diabetics in my ‘chia pudding for diabetics’ post if you would like to learn more there.
Another reason why beets are great for diabetics is because they are low in fat. A high caloric intake and lack of physical activity are major risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes.
Fats contain twice as many calories as healthy carbohydrates in beets and vegetables. Beets are listed as a green light food in the Mastering Diabetes book, which means people with diabetes can enjoy beets in unlimited amounts.
The book Mastering Diabetes is a must-read for anyone wanting to reverse type 2 diabetes naturally. Their revolutionary information is life-changing and will help you understand why you do not need to fear the natural sugar and carbohydrates in fruits and vegetables.
When managing my own gestational diabetes during pregnancy, I was religious about eating beets daily. Walking after meals and eating beets daily was part of my protocol to lower my blood sugar levels; including my morning fasting blood sugar which was my biggest problem.
You can learn more about my protocol below, but I can tell you that eating low-fat foods (specifically low saturated fats) and eating beets were a massive part of the reason I was able to manage gestational diabetes through diet while also lowering my blood sugar levels.
Oxidative stress and insulin resistance
Beets contain natural sugars but are a healthy carbohydrate and contain dietary fiber that helps to reduce high blood sugar levels. Some promising studies show beets’ ability to minimize oxidative stress within the body. Simply put, oxidative stress is when oxidants are imbalanced with antioxidants. An oxidant (or free radical) is a reactive molecule within your body that reacts with other proteins, DNA, and lipids and leaves them damaged.
We need antioxidants to neutralize these free radicals and protect our cells from damage. Why is this relevant? When the body is out of balance, there is always a domino effect of symptoms leading to chronic diseases. In this case, research shows a strong correlation between oxidative stress in the body and insulin resistance.
As we know, insulin resistance is a precursor to type 2 diabetes. The easiest way to fight disease is to prevent it in the first place! But there is always time to give your body what it needs to heal, such as eating beets to reduce inflammation and, thus, insulin resistance.
Antioxidants in beets improve insulin sensitivity
Beets also contain a plant compound called polyphenols. They are one of many powerful antioxidants that everyone should be incorporating into their diets for good health; another antioxidant found in beets is betalain, which I mentioned earlier.
Beets are fantastic for reducing cellular damage and preventing the oxidative stress that leads to insulin resistance and diabetes, as they are a good source of antioxidants! A recent study involving antioxidants showed a positive impact on reducing cardiovascular disease and improved insulin sensitivity in diabetic patients.
Beetroot recipes for diabetics and ways to use beets!
There are so many ways to incorporate beets into your diet if you have diabetes. Beets are a vibrant root vegetable that makes a great addition to any meal.
For example, next time you’re making hummus, steam some beet and add that (along with the sweet, pink water leftover from cooking) to your recipe! Blend it all up, and it makes the most beautiful pink hummus and tastes unreal.
I love to grate fresh beets and store them in a glass container as they keep very well in the fridge and are an easy addition to any salad, sandwich, or wrap. Try and get creative in the kitchen; I love using a mandoline to thinly slice beets and layer them with smoked tofu, sliced cucumber, and avocado for a fun little cracker-free snack!
I formulated this beet, apple salad with cinnamon and apple cider vinegar for myself while managing gestational diabetes through diet. Beets, apple cider vinegar, and cinnamon are a winning combo for improving blood sugar levels and reducing insulin resistance in people with diabetes. Use this salad to garnish your meals.
This roasted root vegetable salad with beetroot is another great beet recipe for diabetics!
So, are beets good for diabetes?
I personally reaped the benefits of eating beets when I had gestational diabetes. I love beets for many reasons, but mainly because they are fantastic for cleansing the liver and improving bile flow. Fats are transported out of the liver via the bile.
A healthy liver free of fat buildup is essential to ensuring that there is storage room left for glucose in the liver. The liver takes glucose from the blood and stores it as glycogen in the liver. The liver must have the capacity to store glucose for healthy blood sugar levels.
Eating beets is an excellent way for diabetics to lower blood sugar levels. High blood sugar can eventually cause damage to blood vessels, leading to heart disease and nerve damage. Beets are an anti-oxidant-rich root vegetable that are great for weight loss and insulin resistance as it helps to reduce inflammation; which is one of the underlying causes of insulin resistance and weight gain.
Many studies highlight the anti-oxidant benefits of beets and their ability to improve insulin resistance. In one study, consuming raw beets for eight weeks decreased fasting blood sugar, HbA1c, and liver enzymes while enhancing antioxidant capacity in type 2 diabetes.
Everyone should incorporate beets into their diets as they are an anti-oxidant-rich superfood, but those with diabetes will likely find some impactful health benefits in beetroot.
For more information, check out my resource page for reversing insulin resistance and fatty liver!