Eating a beet is a real torture for most kids. If only they knew how beneficial beets are, they will surely introduce them into their diet.
Beets are part of the chenopod family like the spinach and the quinoa. These plants have so many health benefits and they also contain carotenoits and yellow betalain pigments where is found connection between the nervous system health and these phytonutrients. All of this makes the chenopod family very well for the human body.
Beets contain betalains that are a rare phytonutrients source. There are 2 forms of betalains : vulgaxanthin and betanin that provide detoxification, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant support. There are also a few other foods that contain betalains, such as nopal cactus(Mexican prickly pear), amaranth, chard and rhubarb.
To beet or not to beet
The history of the beet is a long one. Its ancestor, the wild beet, is thought to have originated in North Africa. Beets were chosen to be featured in the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, and the ancient Romans used it as an aphrodisiac. Seems weird, but they were onto something: Beets contain a high amount of boron, and boron is directly related to the production of sex hormones, helping menopausal women regain their sex drive.
During the Middle Ages, beetroot was used for medicinal purposes. Any issue that involved digestion or illnesses of the blood would use this special ingredient. We don’t know whether people were actually cured of their illnesses, but they were certainly getting some important vitamins and minerals in their diet!
And the most interesting fact about beets is that Napoleon said that beets would become the main source of sugar.
The benefits of beets
Like we already mentioned a couple of times that beets contain many vitamins and minerals, it is time to show you all many of them. Beets are high in magnesium, potassium, fiber, phosphorus, iron, vitamins A, B and C, folic acid, beta-cyanine and beta-carotene. Pregnant women should consume beets because of the high amount of vitamin B and iron in them, because that way they will help in forming new growth cells during their pregnancy.
All of the nutrients combined will provide you a healthier life and many types of cancer can be prevented with consumption of them such as lung, breast, prostate, testicular, nerve and stomach cancers.
The best thing about the fiber in beets is that it provides benefits to the digestive tract and cardiovascular system that other fiber does not, and that is with the help of pectin polysaccharides.
If you want to detoxify your body, beets can help you with that because beets will help with neutralization of the toxins which will make them water soluble and they can be much easily eliminated through the urine.
Although there can be one problem if you eat too much beets – urine can turn into reddish/pinkish color and that is due to betalain pigments and will happen only when the body will have hard time with metabolizing iron. In case you notice that change of color in your urine after eating beets consult with a doctor.
Give it up for beet juice
A more recent finding is the relationship between beet juice and athleticism. Beet juice is naturally high in nitrates which the body uses to make nitrite and nitric oxide. These two chemicals expand blood vessels and protect them from injury, increasing muscle power and endurance.
One recent study showed drinking beet juice caused the need for oxygen to drop by 19 percent, while the time of exercise endurance increased by 17 percent. And another study, published in the 2011 Medicine and Science in Sports & Exercise journal, showed that cyclists could cut 11 seconds off of their four kilometer times, and 45 seconds off of their 16.1 kilometer times, just by drinking beet juice. More research needs to be completed, but beet juice could be the next big thing for athletes.
Beautifully red, beautifully sweet
The look of beets can be a bit of confusing. The green leaves are connected to a round/oblong part (which is the beet), and they have usually a reddish-purple color, but it is not strange if they come in another color from golden yellow to white and sometimes they even have rainbow-colored roots. What can give the reddish color is the betalain.
The taste of beets is actually quite sweet because of the high sugar content. Raw beets have a crunchy texture and cooked beets are buttery and softer.
How to prepare your beets
The season of the beets is from June to October. If you want to choose the best beet, try to look at the medium or small sized with smooth skin, deep color and firm roots. If they are younger and smaller, the after cooking peeling is not necessary.
Some studies suggest that beets should be roasted for an hour or less and steamed for less than fifteen minutes, because of the betalain chemical sensitivity. They are very sensitive and they can bleed from the smallest puncture or bruise. Don’t treat them like the other tough foods, because even they look really tough they are actually very delicate.
Do not wash the beets before you store them. You should keep them in a plastic bag(without air) because they are very sensitive to oxidation. Beets can stay in the refrigerator up to 3 weeks, but you can also freeze them after you cook them because if they are not cooked, after the thawing they will become less desirable and soft.
In the past, the beet leaves were eaten instead of the root. But these days, when people know that they are both edible, there are amounts of different recipes. The best way to cook the beet leaves is to prepare them as you usually prepare Swiss chard or spinach. People in Eastern Europe use the beet pickled, cooked and raw but also as a main ingredient in borscht. It is also used as a dietary aid for the horses which are training for competition and in making wine.
Try to add the beet into your salads and soups by grating it. You can also roast, boil, pickle, grill or marinate the beets with herbs, extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice.
Find some fun ways to get your family eating the beets in case they don’t really like them. It may become the new favorite food in your home if your family knows that beets are rich in sugar and that they contain energy with low calories.