Why Beets Are Super Healthy and a Wonder Food
Getting the Most Out of Beet Roots and Greens
High in minerals including potassium, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus.
Wash and peel the root. Slice and steam, bake, or boil.
No fat and high in natural fiber.
Wash greens thoroughly. Saute or steam. These greens cook quickly.
A good source of folate.
Eat one medium-sized beet a week. Drink water to facilitate detoxifying benefits.
I wonder about the first person hungry enough to take a grey bulb from the ground, brush off the dirt and eat it. There is nothing to attract one to the beta vulgaris, or beet root. It is a vegetable that comes covered in grime, showing no hint of the gorgeous ruby color hidden within. But once the skin is peeled back, the richness inside is unexpected and astonishing. Cooked, the flesh is tender and almost buttery in flavor. Beets have high sugar content but are still low in calories. It is indeed a wonder food.
An Ancient Food
The beet has been cultivated for thousands of years and is believed to have spread from the Mediterranean into Babylonia. An interesting note here is that the prophet Daniel, from the Holy Bible, was a captive in Babylonia. He and his friends refused to eat the King’s rich food and insisted on their own diet. After ten days of only vegetables and water, the young men were healthier and looked better than the ones who ate the King’s food and drank wine. One must consider that Daniel ate beets. The antioxidants and vitamins from the beet and the detoxification effect on the body may have given Daniel glowing complexion and great energy.
How to Prepare Beets
To get prime benefit from beets, eat at least one medium-sized beet every week.
Beets, like any food, are best served organic and as fresh as possible. Many local farms, farmers markets, and natural food stores sell beets year-round. At peak season, you can find the greens as well as the root. The greens are full of vitamins and minerals (actually even more than the roots). They should be bright and fresh-looking. Limp or brown greens might be old or even close to spoiled.
When harvesting or buying beets, look for medium-sized bulbs that are firm and smooth. Young beets can be washed well and cooked with the skin on as they are so tender.
Vegetables should never be overcooked and beets are no exception. The longer a food is cooked, the less nutrition it will have. Beets (and all veggies) should still be crisp to the teeth. Steam about 15 minutes. Then the skins can be removed with a peeler. Cut the cooked root into quarters or slices then continue cooking until fork-tender. Beets will stain the hands, so wear gloves or rub a bit of oil over hands before handling.
Health Benefits of Beets
Some disorders that may be alleviated with regular beet use are:
- Blood pressure
- Gastric ulcer
- Gall bladder and kidney ailments
- Varicose veins
Scientists today are learning more about the nutrient quality of beets and the possible use in fighting aging and cancers. The primary ingredient in beets is betalain, which helps the body develop antioxidant enzymes. In recent studies, antioxidants have been shown to prevent cancer development. The dark red violet pigments in beets are betacyanins from betalamic acid. Many of these betalains function as antioxidants and anti-inflammatory molecules. They are also water soluble and have a nitrogen content unlike other foods.
The phytonutrients in beets and their related family of plants assist in treating nervous system disorders. One of the antioxidents highly concentrated in beets is lutein which shows great promise in the treatment of eye disorders. Over 1.75 million people in the United States alone have macular degeneration. This number is estimated at more than 3 million by the year 2020. Can a simple vegetable be the dietary change that prevents this from happening? Possibly.
More and more, we are learning that a person’s diet is directly related to whole body health. Diabetes and heart disease can been reduced or eliminated through diet. Cancers, muscle and nerve degeneration, and even pain can be relieved by consuming whole foods. Beets can be consumed straight from the garden with minimal effort.
Detoxifying and Anti-Inflammatory
Since beets detoxify the body, one should exercise caution if experiencing dizziness or light headedness. I personally had this happen. I ate two medium-sized beets and drank the broth they were cooked in. About an hour later I had a bout of dizziness that lasted several hours. The next day I felt great and had superior energy and stamina. Now I limit intake to one medium beet per day. Start with one per week and build up as your body becomes accustomed. Drinking more water to flush out the toxins will help also.
During the detoxification process, toxic substances in the body become water soluble and are neutralized. Then they can be excreted through the urine. Beets can lessen the time toxins are in the body and provide quick cleansing.
Beets, especially the greens, contain measurable amounts of oxalates. Oxalates can become too concentrated in body fluids and crystallize, causing health problems. People with kidney or gallbladder problems may want to avoid eating beet greens. Oxalates may also interfere with absorption of calcium from the body. Yet, their ability to lower calcium absorption is relatively small and does not outweigh their calcium contribution.
Beets, as mentioned earlier, have anti-inflammatory benefits as well. This happens through the inhibition of COX 1 and 2 enzymes that trigger inflammation. The betaine nutrient in the body comes from the B complex vitamin choline. Choline regulates inflammation in the cardiovascular system by preventing excess buildup of homocysteine. Atherosclerosis and other heart disorders may be reduced or prevented by regular intake of the simple beet which contains betaine. Betaine also is of help with Type 2 diabetes for the same reasons.
In addition to the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, beets are high in fiber. The particular type of fiber found in beets provides exceptional digestive tract support because it includes polysaccharides pectin.
Note: Regular consumption of beets can cause urine to become red or pink in color. This condition is known as beeturia and is not harmful. I mention it because it can cause concern if one is not aware.
Nutrients in Beet Roots and Greens
- Heart-healthy folate
- The antioxidant manganese
- Dietary fiber
- Free radical scavenging Vitamin C
- Magnesium (good for bone health)
- Energy-producing iron and phosphorus
- Vitamins A, B1, B2, and B6
|Serving size: 1 cup|
|Calories from Fat||0|
|% Daily Value *|
|Fat 0 g|
|Saturated fat 0 g|
|Unsaturated fat 0 g|
|Carbohydrates 13 g||4%|
|Sugar 9 g|
|Fiber 4 g||16%|
|Protein 2 g||4%|
|Cholesterol 0 mg|
|Sodium 106 mg||4%|
|* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.|
I hope this short article has encouraged you to look into the health benefits of beets. I have seen a change in my own life since I added them to our table on a regular basis. I am not a physician or medical practitioner of any kind. This is what works for me. As I become more health conscious, I find simple and non-processed foods are keeping me vital. Consult your doctor if you have any health concerns. I am forever grateful to God who created the foods that keep us well.