The Beet Goes On

While we’re not entirely sure if it ever went away, we can confidently state that the humble, hearty beet is making some kind of a comeback in the Western world. Can you hear the distant, trans-Pacific sounds of Eastern Europeans muttering “We told you so…”?

Beetroot, as it is often called, is joining the “superfood” club as an extraordinary source of nutrition, lending itself to many health benefits. We all know at least one person who wrinkles their nose at the very mention of beets (and perhaps that person is you) staunchly refusing to give them a try. Some common reasons for refusing to eat beets range from They taste like dirt! to They’re way too sweet! to They stain everything! 

Silly notions, every last one of them! If this is you, you are missing out on one of the most nutrient-packed, versatile vegetables in the produce aisle; and for the aesthetically-driven, as a bonus, they are exquisitely beautiful.

Here at Anderssen’s Flaxrolls, beets can be found in our delicious 7 Root Flaxroll™ wraps, as well as in three of our organic, cold-pressed juices: Kiss Me Baby, Golden Roots, and Good Morning Sunshine.

Some Beet Basics

Beets (Beta vulgaris) come in three basic varieties: red (the most familiar strain), golden, and white.

The stunning garnet colour of the red beet comes from betalain pigments; the golden beets contain ß-xanthin pigments; and the white–called choggia, or candy-cane beets–contain very pleasant-looking, alternating white-and-red concentric circles, hence the nickname. No matter which type of beet you prefer, they are all equally nutritious, containing many trace vitamins and minerals, as well as considerable quantities of manganese and folate (B9).

(Incidentally, folate, or folic acid, is an important substance for women who are planning to conceive. According to Shaw et al, “Adequate folate intake during the preconception period–which is the time right before and just after a woman becomes pregnant–helps protect against a number of congenital malformations, including neural tube defects, which are the most notable birth defects that occur from folate deficiency.”)

You don’t need to ingest pill supplements.  Get your folate needs from real food: those beautiful beets!

Health Benefits*

The positive side effects of consuming this vegetable are numerous; researchers and medical experts alike claim that beets can help with lowering blood pressure, increasing stamina–both at the gym and in the bedroom–and eliminating cell-damaging free radicals from the body due to their considerable antioxidant content.

Heart-Friendly

According to medical experts, beets are very heart-healthy; in fact, in its peeled state, a red beet almost resembles a human heart (well, if you squint a little). Beets can reduce the levels of homocysteine in your blood, an inflammatory compound that may damage arteries and increase the risk of heart disease.

Anti-Inflammatory

An inflammatory response in the body is a natural reaction that protects us when we have acute stressors such as an infection or injury. However, in time, this inflammation can become chronic. Chronic inflammation has been linked to several symptoms and diseases, such as wrinkles, cancer, arthritis, diabetes, and osteoporosis, among others. The betalains in beets (which give them their stunning red colour) can help reduce inflammation.

Mental Health and Wellness

The crimson betalains contained in beets have been used to treat depression by medical professionals. Most surprisingly of all, though, is the fact that beets contain tryptophan, an amino acid that is best known for its presence in turkey–it provides a sense of calm and relaxation, and is gaining popularity as a natural sleep aid.

Beet Side Effects (which really aren’t so bad)

Consuming red beets can heavily tint your urine–called beeturia–which can cause great alarm. It can be just plain horrifying for one to use the commode and see dark pink liquid filling up the bowl, but unless this is accompanied by abdominal pain and fever, you have nothing to worry about; it is nothing more than the intensely-coloured betalain from the beets, which is not broken down by the body. Think of it as naturally-dyed urine, which is completely harmless, and will disappear once the food leaves your system.

Also, because beets have a high sugar / carbohydrate content, consuming them a few times per week is more than adequate. Beets were originally used as a source of sugar, and even today, are still used for sugar production. According to Wikipedia, 100 grams of cooked beets contains nearly 8 grams of sugar. So if you are watching your carbohydrate or sugar intake, keep this in mind to prevent a massive insulin spike.

On the other hand, if you are craving something sweet, reaching for a beet and its natural sugars is far preferable to the refined, white, nutrient-stripped version of sugar you will find in nearly all processed sweet foods and breads.

How To Eat Them

Beets can be consumed in several ways, although, like most fruits and vegetables, are most beneficial when eaten in their raw state. If you are still hesitant to eat these luscious root vegetables, here are some suggestions on how to incorporate beets into your diet, and who knows?  You may end up loving them.  A few ideas:

-Raw, thinly-sliced, carpaccio-style. Drizzle with a touch of olive oil, a dash of salt and pepper, and a few crumbles of feta or goat cheese;

-Peeled and steamed, then served with some butter or olive oil, a dash of garlic, and salt and pepper;

-Raw and shredded, either alone or on top of your favourite salad. Eating shredded carrots alongside the beets makes for a sweet and healthy combination–squeeze some lemon or orange juice on top, maybe plonk them on a bowl of brown rice, and you’ve got one of the healthiest meals you could eat;

-Eastern Europeans are known for their beet-heavy borscht recipes. There is no singular concept of borscht, as the interpretations vary from country to country. Some are vegan; some are vegetarian but use plenty of dairy products; some include pork and beef. A clean and delicious form of borscht involves tomatoes, lots of beets, chopped veggies of your choice (cabbage and carrot are excellent choices), some vinegar (apple cider works best), and generous quantities of dill. You can look up some recipes online, or just try some out in your own kitchen.

-Of course, there is the tried-and-true juicing method, if you have in fact invested in a juicer. Create your own blends incorporating beets, which harmonize beautifully with the flavours of mint, kale, carrot, apple, and spinach. Put aside your qualms and buy yourself a bunch of beets today.

Eat Your Greens

While we won’t employ dramatic license and claim that discarding the leafy green beet tops is a cardinal sin, we will say that those beet greens are equally as nutritious as the root vegetable itself, if not more so.  We all know by now that consuming dark, leafy greens is extremely advantageous to your health, and beet greens are no exception to that rule.  They are an excellent source of calcium, magnesium, iron, trace vitamins and minerals, and lutein–a cartenoid that plays a key role in maintaining the health of your eyes.

If you balk at the idea of eating a plateful of beet greens, be a bit more creative: chop them up and add them to your salad; throw them into your favourite soup recipe; chuck them into your juicer; saute them with a little bit of garlic and lemon juice (both of which make anything palatable) and have them as a side dish.  We repeat: do not throw away the beet greens.

It won’t be long before you start asking yourself why it took so long to start chowing on these extraordinary vegetables.  From top to bottom, beets will make a significant difference in your overall health and sense of well-being.

*Please bear in mind that this is not an official medical site, nor are we dispensing medical advice–we are simply offering forth available information. For any illnesses or maladies, it is advisable to seek the advice of a medical practitioner.

Author: N.Bondoreff

 

Sources: mercola.com, medicalnewstoday.com, nutrition-and-you.com, menshealth.com, wikipedia.org, care2.com, Shaw GM, Schaffer D, Velie EM, Morland K, Harris JA (May 1995). “Periconceptional vitamin use, dietary folate, and the occurrence of neural tube defects”. Epidemiology 6 (3): 219–26.

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