Why Eat Beets? This week I wanted to highlight one of my favorite Garden Vegetables, Beets.
Beets are sweeter than most vegetables, in fact they have the highest sugar content of all veggies which is why I have them in a ”use sparingly" category because of their high carbohydrate levels. But they are packed with so many nutrients and good stuff that you will want to include them once or twice a week in your diet. ESPECIALLY the green leafy part, because those hardly have any sugar at all! Here are a list of 6 health benefits from eating beets.
1. Lower Your Blood Pressure
Drinking beet juice may help to lower blood pressure in a matter of hours. One study found that drinking one glass of beet juice lowered systolic blood pressure by an average of 4-5 points.
Scientific Stuff: Beets have naturally occurring nitrates, which turn into nitric oxide, which help relax and dilate blood vessels. This improves blood flow and in turn lowers your blood pressure!
2. Boost Your Stamina
If you need a boost to make it through your next workout, beet juice may be just the thing your looking for! Those who drank beet juice prior to exercise were able to exercise for up to 16 percent longer.
Scientific Stuff: The benefit is thought to also be related to nitrates turning into nitric oxide, which may reduce the oxygen cost of low-intensity exercise as well as improve your tolerance for high-intensity exercise.
3. Fight Inflammation
Beets are a unique source of betaine, a nutrient that helps protects cells, proteins, and enzymes from environmental stress. It's also known to help fight inflammation, protect internal organs, improve vascular risk factors, enhance performance, and likely help prevent numerous chronic diseases.
Scientific Stuff: As reported by the World's Healthiest Foods:
"[Betaine's]… presence in our diet has been associated with lower levels of several inflammatory markers, including C reactive protein, interleukin-6, and tumor necrosis factor alpha. As a group, the anti-inflammatory molecules found in beets may eventually be shown to provide cardiovascular benefits in large-scale human studies, as well as anti-inflammatory benefits for other body systems."
4. Anti-Cancer Properties
It seems Cancer is everywhere these days, so why not do all we can to prevent it? The powerful phytonutrients that give beets their deep crimson color may help with the fight against cancer. Research has shown that beetroot extract reduced multi-organ tumor formations in various animal models when put into their drinking water. while beetroot extract is also being studied for use in treating human pancreatic, breast, and prostate cancers.
5. Rich in Valuable Nutrients and Fiber
Beets are high in immune-boosting vitamin C, fiber, and essential minerals like potassium (essential for healthy nerve and muscle function) and manganese (which is good for your bones, liver, kidneys, and pancreas). We all know that fiber keeps us nice and regular! It also improves your metabolism. Beets also contain the B vitamin folate, which helps reduce the risk of birth defects, perfect for mothers to be!
6. Detoxification Support
We all need a little detoxification with all thats going in and out of our bodies. And thats not just from food. Stress and tension can add to the toxins in your body. Beets help detoxify!
Science Stuff: The betalin pigments in beets support your body's Phase 2 detoxification process, which is when broken down toxins are bound to other molecules so they can be excreted from your body. Traditionally, beets are valued for their support in detoxification and helping to purify your blood and your liver.
Eat Your Beet Greens Too
Don’t forget about the power house greens that are conveniently attached to the beet root! If you simply throw away the green leafy tops to your beets, you're doing yourself a disservice, as these are among the healthiest part of the plant.
Besides containing important nutrients like protein, phosphorus, zinc, fiber, vitamin B6, magnesium, potassium, copper, and manganese, beet greens also supply significant amounts of vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, and iron.
Beet greens actually have even more iron than spinach (another leafy green in the same botanical family) as well as a higher nutritional value overall than the beetroot itself. Most Women are low in Iron, which can lead to lack of energy.
What else can they do?
-Help ward off osteoporosis by boosting bone strength
-Fight Alzheimer's disease
-Strengthen your immune system by stimulating the production of antibodies and white blood cells
If you've never tried beet greens before, don't let them intimidate you. They can be added raw to vegetable juice or sautéed lightly right along with other greens like spinach and Swiss chard.
Roasted Beet Kale Salad with Candied Walnuts
For the Salad:
-1 1/2 pounds beets, peeled and quartered (or cut into bite sized pieces if you’re using large beets)
-1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
-1 cup walnut halves
-2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
-1/4 teaspoon sea salt
-1/8 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
-4 packed cups of curly kale, washed and torn into bite sized pieces
-Optional: 1/4 cup goat or Boursin cheese (a diced avocado makes a great vegan alternative to creamy cheeses in salads!)
For the Dressing:
-3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
-2 tablespoons honey
-1 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
-1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard (certified gluten-free if necessary)
-1 small garlic clove, grated on a microplane or very finely minced
-A pinch of sea salt
-1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Place the beets on the prepared baking sheet and drizzle the oil over top. Use your hands to toss them in oil. Cover the baking sheet with aluminum foil and bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes, or until they can be priced using some pressure with a fork.
While the beets are roasting prepare the rest of the salad. Add the walnut halves to a small frying pan over medium high heat. Let them cook until they are fragrant and start to brown in places, shaking the pan frequently. Pour over the maple syrup and sprinkle with sea salt and fresh cracked pepper. Let them cook, stirring constantly, until the maple syrup has almost evaporated, about 1 minute. Remove the walnuts from the pan and place them on a piece of parchment paper, separating them from each other as much as possible.
Add the kale, optional cheese or avocado and the walnuts to a large bowl. When the beets come out of the oven let them cool slightly then add them to the bowl too. Pour the dressing over top and toss well so that everything is coated.
To make the dressing, combine all the ingredients except for the oil in a medium sized bowl. Slowly add the oil in a thin steady stream while whisking the dressing constantly. If the oil starts to build up at all stop pouring it and whisk the dressing vigorously. It will take you about 1 minute to whisk in the oil. Taste the dressing and season with salt to taste.
And an easy way to prepare the Greens:
First give everything a good wash in some running water. Then chop up the stems into bite-sized pieces. Next, chop up your beet green leaves.
Next, pull out your Grilling Foil. Simply make a foil packet for the greens, and sprinkled them with extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper. Also you can add a little bit of vegetable stock (2 Tbsp, maybe) to ensure that the greens had plenty of liquid to help them soften up a bit.
Then bring up two of the sides to meet each other, and fold them down twice. Repeat this step on the two sides to create a packet. Let these cook on the grill, or the Oven for about 20 minutes at 400 F