Sure, they might look a little rugged on the outside, but beets. Are. Great. Not only are beets packed with sweet flavor and nutrition (i.e., antioxidants and nitrates), they’re also versatile. Just think about it, you can eat beets shaved raw on salads, picked and jared, roasted with root veggies, and even pureed into smoothies. Beets really are an all-around power food, and here’s why…
You can make beets any way you want. If you like it hot, you can roast, grill and boil beets. It makes a great side for a dinner and is easy to prepare. If you like it cold, Beets are an excellent addition to a salad after being cooked in oil and vinegar. You can even go raw sliced or shredded. Some people love pickled beets too. You could make a beet soup! There are so many options! What will you do?
Really when you think about it, beets are one of few foods that taste great in all forms. For instance, raw beets can be shredded fresh on salads or pickled and jared to be used as garnishes. But keep in mind that even though cooking beets does lower some of their antioxidant and nitrate abilities, research from Web MD assure these roots are still excellent for your health.
If you’re concerned with your environmental footprint, you’ll be thrilled to know that beets are one vegetable that you can nosh on from stems to roots. This means that you can eat the whole beet once it’s pull from the ground and washed. Not a bit of this vitamin-, mineral-, and antioxidant-rich vegetable will go to waste.
To prepare whole beets for cooking, simply trim the stems just below the point where the leaves begin. Wash completely and set aside for salads, sautéing with garlic and olive oil, or for use in omelettes or smoothies. You already know that you can peel and shred fresh beet root for salads, on sandwiches, or bake or roast chopped beets as a delicious side with olive oil, lemon, and garlic.
Beets have a reputation for being an excellent source of several vitamins and minerals. According to research from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, beets are an excellent source of folate and manganese. Folate is important for synthesizing and repairing DNA as well as helping with cell division and growth, such as during pregnancy or infancy. Folate also helps to produce red blood cells and prevent anemia.
Many nutrition experts actually refer to beets as “crimson spinach”. In fact, beets are similar in nutrition to Popeye’s favorite power food, spinach due to high levels of iron, folate, and betaine.
Beetroot juice has been found to reduce blood pressure in certain individuals. This could have an effect on some factors of cardiovascular disease. This is likely a result of the nitrates in beet juice which are converted into nitric oxide in your body, helping you relax your blood vessels.
Plus, according to Registered Dietitian, Julie Upton, beets are high in inflammatory compounds as well as a natural source of betalain and betaine, which helps lower dangerous homocysteine levels in the blood and reduces the overall risk of heart disease.
The betaines (pronounced like bee-ta-eens) within beets helps protects cells from environmental stress. Betaine is unique to beets and this nutrient helps to guard cells, proteins, and enzymes from environmental stress while fighting inflammation in internal organs and preventing all sorts of inflammation-based chronic diseases (i.e., cardiovascular disease).
But betaine not only fights inflammation and the chronic diseases that can develop due to inflammation–while it guards the organs from disease, betaine also helps increase stamina. A research study from UK-based Liverpool Hope University, found that beet juice increases oxygen uptake and boosts overall athletic performance.
Beets have often been a staple of a detox diet, and are a great help to your liver. You’re getting plenty of antioxidants from beets and the betains (Bee-ta-eens) found within beets will help your liver better process toxins.
One other thing you should know. The red colour compound in beets known as betanin, is NOT broken down in the body. High concentrations may mean that things are going to be a little colourful at the end of the day (in your bowel movements). Don’t be concerned though, the red color of your stool is harmless and will cease once the beets are completely out of your system.