Regardless of your feelings toward beets, this vegetable is one of the healthiest ways to boost overall health.
Beets or beetroots, as they are often called, are members of the Chenopodiaceae family, and represent one of the varieties of the Beta vulgaris species. They are often used as a natural coloring agent and added to salads, soups, and pickles.
Although beets are available throughout the year and can be eaten every day, they are still considered seasonal vegetables.
They have a versatile flavor, and earthy taste when raw, tart when fermented, and sweet when roasted. They are full of nutrients and are beneficial for our heart and brain health, blood pressure, and athletic performance.
Beets are rich in vitamin C, folate, manganese, and potassium, and low in calories. They are rich in fiber and water, as well as vitamins A and K.
Here are some of the health benefits of beets:
- Being high in fiber, beets help digestion and lower the risk of diabetes, colon cancer, and heart disease
- The extract of beetroot has been scientifically confirmed to reduce the growth of both breast and prostate cancer cells
- Beets lower blood pressure, as they contain naturally occurring nitrates which convert to nitric oxide, that dilates and relaxes blood vessels, and thus improves blood flow
- Beets have potent anti-inflammatory properties due to a pigment they contain, betalain, and thus lowers pain and discomfort due to osteoarthritis
- Nitric oxide helps to dilate and relax blood vessels and thus boosts blood flow to the brain
- Betaines in beets detoxify the liver and reverse a fatty liver
- Beet juice has been found to boost athletic performance due to its high nitric oxide conversion
- Beet juice has been shown to increase muscle capacity, and help patients diagnosed with heart failure.
Yet, note that this vegetable is rich in oxalates which can cause accumulation of uric in the body which could lead to gout, as well as bladder and kidney stones. Beets are also abundant in sugar, so diabetics should avoid it.
When purchasing beets, choose the small to medium-sized beets, firm to touch. Avoid the wrinkled, soft, or shriveled ones.
If they have leaves, trim them about two inches from the root, and store the leaves in a separate container or storage bag for up to 3-4 days. They are highly nutritious and are rich in iron, B6, copper, fiber, phosphorus, potassium, protein, zinc, magnesium, and manganese.
Store the beets in the fridge, up to three weeks.
By adding beets to your diet, you will improve your overall health in various ways.
Therefore, here are some tasty ways to increase their intake:
- Beetroot juice: Fresh beetroot juice is the most nutritious option since store-bought juice can be rich in added sugars and may only contain a small amount of beets.
- Beetroot leaves: You can cook beet greens just like spinach.
- Beetroot salad: Add grated beets to coleslaw.
- Beetroot dip: Blend beets with Greek yogurt and you will get a delicious and healthy dip.