Four veggies that help keep your heart and blood vessels in tip-top condition. By Sasha Gonzales.
Heart-Friendly Vegetable: Beets
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This deep red root vegetable contains high amounts of phytonutrients which act as antioxidants, and betaine, a compound that lowers homocysteine (a non-protein amino acid) in the bloodstream. “Doctors aren’t sure how homocysteine increases the risk of heart and blood vessel disease, but there appears to be a link between high levels and artery damage as well as blood clots,” says Benita Perch, a naturopathic physician at the Integrated Medicine Institute in Hong Kong. A study published in the journal Hypertension showed that drinking two cups of beet juice a day could lower blood pressure by 10 points.
Besides juicing, beets can be sliced and eaten raw in salads, roasted or blended with soup. Overconsumption of beets can cause beeturia, where your urine or stools take on a reddish hue. It’s harmless, so don’t be alarmed. If you have kidney stones, avoid beets because the high oxalate content may worsen your condition. If you are otherwise healthy, a one-cup serving a day is sufficient as beets are also high in natural sugars.