We Got The Beets
I’ve found that beets sit alongside Brussel sprouts as one of the most divisive vegetables to our taste buds: either we like them or we don’t. I’m one of those who happens to sit in the middle, eating both because I know how great they are for my health. It also helps to use tasty spices and cook them thoroughly!
Beets are a root vegetable similar in appearance to turnips and rutabagas. If you’ve never handled beets, they’ll stain everything they touch, which is one of the reasons I prefer yellow beets or Chioggia beets (pictured above). Red beets may also give you a bit of a scare in the bathroom, as they turn anything leaving the body red. Another reason I prefer the other beet colors. But, that shouldn’t deter you from eating them for their amazing health benefits.
Let’s dive in. We’re looking at two parts of the beet: the beetroot, or root portion, and beat greens, the leafy attachment that sits above ground.
WHAT BEETROOTS CONTAIN:
- They’re high in vitamins B2 (Riboflavin), which is good for energy production.
- They’re high in vitamin C, an antioxidant.
- They’re high in vitamin K, which helps the blood to clot. If you’re taking blood thinners, go easy consuming any plant containing vitamin K.
- They’re rich in phytonutrients, which provide antioxidants and cancer-fighting anti-inflammatory properties.
- They’re high in folate, which helps with DNA synthesis and decreases risk for heart disease, cancer and depression.
- They’re high in manganese, which aids metabolism, healing of wounds, and maintaining healthy bones and enzymatic processes.
- They’re also high in copper, which keeps immune system healthy, helps generate red blood cells and supports energy production.
WHAT BEETROOTS ARE GOOD FOR:
- The liver
- The heart
- The eyes
- The brain
- The immune system
- Endurance (endurance athletes know this)
- Decreasing inflammation
- Improving digestive health
- Improving libido
Now let’s look at the beet’s superpower: its ability to convert to nitric oxide (NO). NO helps the arteries and vessels open up and aids at stripping the artery of plaque (when following a whole food plant-based diet). There are other vegetables that produce this effect, but beets seem to be especially powerful.
For instance, a 2014 study published in Hypertension found that drinking one cup of beet juice daily for four weeks decreased blood pressure. This comes as no surprise to endurance athletes, as they’ve compared this to a legalized form of “blood doping”. Performance, fueled by increased oxygen flow, can be increased by 10% from drinking beet juice during races and training.
I’ve found that roasting beets with other vegetables and seasoning with a spice like Tajin is pretty benign, and the flavor gets mixed in with the other veggies.
The beet root isn’t the only thing which makes this vegetable a superpower unto itself. Beet greens are high in Vitamins A, C, K and B2. The abundance of Vitamin A alone helps with immune system function, the reproductive system, cellular communication and development. They can be boiled, sautéed, simmered or juiced. I sneak them into soups and stews (like I said, I’m not a fan, but I find ways to eat them because I know how good they are for me). Again, these convert to nitric oxide.
Whichever side of the “beet fence” you sit on, there’s no denying that these vegetables are super-powered. If you’re not a fan, try my suggestions for both the root and the leaves, because you'll gain the health benefits, no matter how you consume them.
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