Healthy Life: Beets
By Valerie Lull
I grew up in a family that ate a lot of root vegetables. Beets were a favorite. We would pressure cook them and then eat them with a little butter on them. We also ate the tops. They are just as nutritious as spinach, containing lots of antioxidants and nutrients.
Beets are a root vegetable that goes back to ancient times of the Greeks and Romans. It was grown in the Mediterranean area of the world and especially in North Africa. These people ate the tops and discarded the roots. Later the Romans consumed the roots as an aphrodisiac.
Another name for beets is blood turnips. They are a powerhouse of nutrients that can help many things from losing weight to prevention of chronic diseases like cancer. Beets have even been credited with boosting longevity if eaten regularly. Some of the nutrients they contain include vitamin C, magnesium, potassium, B vitamins, folate, manganese and fiber. They also contain protein and are low in calories.
Beets are especially good because they are a nitrate-rich food. In the body, the nitrates turn into nitric acid. The nitric oxide helps to dilate the arteries, causing the blood to flow more freely and lower blood pressure. It can also keep your arteries free of blood clots. Beets might be a good option for folks with cardiovascular problems though I’d recommend talking it over with your doctor if you are using them in larger quantities than what you would eat at a regular meal.
Beets are especially good for detoxification of the body. They stimulate the flow of the lymph and cleanse the blood. In the liver, beets help to break down toxic waste to be excreted by the body. They stimulate the flow of bile and the fiber cleanses the digestive system.
Athletes like to drink beet juice before a workout because they can exercise longer. The nitric oxide effects oxygen, boosting performance. This improves the working of the mitochondria which gives the athlete a competitive edge and they have more stamina, strength, and endurance.
Beets are considered good for weight loss. They contain a lot of water and are low in calories. The protein and fiber in the beets are helpful for weight loss. Beets can promote feelings of fullness which curb the appetite and helps reduce the intake of calories.
Beets taste good and are easy to fix. The best way to have them is to steam them or bake them. I love beets with a little butter and onion salt on them. The tops, also called beet greens are healthy too. Just steam them and eat them like any other leafy green vegetable.
Beets come in red or yellow. The red beets have a vibrant color that leaches into everything else and is sometimes used as a dye. The yellow beets taste just as good as the red ones and you do not have to worry about staining everything. Beet drinks are available in powder form if you want to drink beet juice, or you can juice them yourself. They are in most vegetable juices you can get at the supermarket, and you can bake, or roast or steam them to eat.
Here is a recipe for beet salad from our friends at Taste of Home.
½ lb. fresh beets
¼ red onion
3 T balsamic vinegar
1T canola oil
1 ½ t fresh basil minced
¼ t salt
1/8 t pepper
Wash beets well and cut off the tops. Steam until they are no longer hard. Remove from heat and cool. Peel beets and slice. Add remaining ingredients. Toss to coat beets. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
About the Author
Valerie B. Lull is an herbalist and wellness coach. At the age of 45 she was diagnosed with Diabetes and staying in good health became her passion. She studied at the American College of Healthcare Sciences in Portland, Oregon. Valerie has always had a passion for staying healthy and for the health benefits of teas and the various ways they can be prepared. Valerie’s passion for tea started in childhood, when she experienced a traditional-style teatime with her Canadian relatives.
You can read her “Healthy Life” column on the 4th Monday here at Pandora’s Box Gazette.