Critical Health News

The Health Benefits Of Beets


I’ve been hearing a lot of commercials about beets lately, the latest darling of the nutritional supplement industry. Supplements using beets, particularly beet juice and beet powder, look to exploit recent research findings focused on the nutrient-dense tap root's ability to enhance athletic performance, strength and endurance.

The secret to the beet boost for athletes and workout warriors is in its nitrogen content, specifically in the form of nitrates and nitrites. Despite the conventional wisdom that these chemicals are best avoided, as it turns out the misunderstood molecules have been a valued medicinal asset for doctors and health care professionals for over a hundred years. They’re sources of nitrogen and, when transformed into the gas hormone nitric oxide (NO), they become a potent hormone-like biochemical that plays various important roles in keeping the body healthy. NO is especially important for heart health. It lowers blood pressure, supports the flow of fluid through the circulatory system, improves male sexual performance, fights cancer, destroys tumors and is anti-inflammatory. In addition to being a source of nitric oxide, nitrates may play an important role in eye health, particularly for patients dealing with glaucoma, a leading cause of blindness that affects 3 million Americans. A 1998 article published in the journal Vision concluded that the use of therapeutic nitrates in glaucoma patients may offer a protective effect. More recently, a study published in JAMA Ophthalmology found that American adults who ate the most nitrates were 21 percent less likely than those who ate the least nitrates to develop open-angle glaucoma by the time they were in their 60s and 70s.

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Grapefruit Diet (Diet!)
Throw out the pizza and beer
Grapefruit Diet (Diet!)
Oh, get those jelly donuts out of here
Grapefruit Diet (Diet!)
Might seem a little severe
Grapefruit Diet (Diet!)
I’m gettin’ tired of my big fat rear…”

– “The Grapefruit Diet, Weird Al Yankovic

I don’t usually eat grapefruit, but every once a while I’ll get the urge to take a bite or two and as soon as the lip puckering tang gets in my mouth, I’ll remember why I don’t like the stuff. Apparently I’m not alone. Google “I hate grapefruit” and you’ll get nearly 578,00 hits! According to a poll of 8,066 respondents taken on the website Amplicate, 26 percent were grapefruit averse, many of whom would no doubt concur with the American playwright Harry Crews who wrote in his biography that when he first tasted the sour fruit, “I only had to touch my lips to my piece to know something was wrong, bad wrong.”

The grapefruit, which has been around for a couple of hundred years is the accidental love child of two types of citrus, the pomelo and the sweet orange which were inadvertently hybridized by Caribbean farmers in the early 1700’s. It’s Latin name “citrus paradisi” (citrus of paradise), refers to its tropical origins and it’s the only citrus fruit that did not originate in Asia. Originally called “The Forbidden Fruit”, possibly as result of its manmade, supposedly non-divine origins, it got the name “grapefruit” in the middle of the 19th century in reference to the grape like cluster in which it grows in.

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