Posted by: godshealingplants | August 18, 2018

BEETS FOR YOUR HEALTH

HISTORY

The wild beet, the ancestor of the beet with which we are familiar today, is thought to have originated in North Africa and grew wild along Asian and European seashores. In these earlier times, people exclusively ate the beet greens and not the roots. The ancient Romans were one of the first civilizations to cultivate beets to use their roots as food. The tribes that invaded Rome were responsible for spreading beets throughout northern Europe where they were first used for animal fodder and later for human consumption, becoming more popular in the 16th century.

 

From the 16th to the 19th century, beets became more widespread and used in various ways; for example, their juices were used as food dyes while their sugars quickly became noticed for a source of concentrated sweetness. Around the 19th century, beets began being used as a means for extracting and refining sugar. 

This continued to be a popular method for making sugar throughout Europe, eventually spreading to the United States where beets are still used in this way. Today the largest producers of beets are the United States, Russia and European nations, such as France, Poland and Germany. 

ABOUT

Sugar beets grow exclusively in the temperate zone, in contrast to sugarcane, which grows exclusively in the tropical and subtropical zones. The average weight of sugar beet ranges between 0.5 and 1 kg (1.1 and 2.2 lb). Sugar beet foliage has a rich, brilliant green color and grows to a height of about 35 cm (14 in). The leaves are numerous and broad and grow in a tuft from the crown of the beet, which is usually level with, or just above the ground surface.

 

While beets are available throughout the year, their season runs from June through October when the youngest, most tender beets are easiest to find. 

NUTRITIONAL VALUE

Beets are an excellent source of folate and a very good source of manganese, potassium and copper. They are also a good source of dietary fiber, magnesium, phosphorus, vitamin C, iron and vitamin B6.   

HEALTH BENEFITS

Although beets have the highest sugar content of all vegetables, most people can safely eat beet roots a few times a week, enjoying not only their sweet, earthy flavor but also their powerhouse nutrients that may improve your health in the following ways. Their greens can be eaten in unlimited quantities. 

  • Aid in Detoxification
  • Aids in Constipation
  • Boost Brain Function
  • Boost Your Stamina
  • Enhance Athletic Performance
  • Excellent for Cleansing the Liver
  • Fights Inflammation
  • Good for Anemia
  • Has Anti-Cancer Properties
  • Helps with Restlessness and Irritability
  • High in Antioxidants
  • Improves Blood Circulation
  • Increase Weight Loss
  • Lowers Your Blood Pressure
  • Promote Heart Health
  • Rich in Valuable Nutrients and Fiber
  • Support Digestive Health

 

We need to eat the beet greens also. 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. And beet greens actually have even more iron than spinach.  

And beet greens are good to:

  • 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. 

HOW TO BUY AND STORE

Choose small or medium-sized beets whose roots are firm, smooth-skinned and deep in color. Smaller, younger beets may be so tender that peeling won’t be needed after they are cooked. Avoid beets that have spots, bruises or soft, wet areas, all of which indicate spoilage. Shriveled or soft should also be avoided as these are signs that the roots are aged, tough and fibrous. 

While the quality of the greens does not reflect that of the roots, if you are going to consume this very nutritious part of the plant, look for greens that appear fresh, tender, and have a lively green color. 

Cut the majority of the greens and their stems from the beet roots, so they do not pull away moisture away from the root. Leave about two inches of the stem attached to prevent the roots from “bleeding.” Do not wash beets before storing. Place in a plastic bag and wrap the bag tightly around the beets, squeezing out as much of the air from the bag as possible, and place in refrigerator where they will keep for up to 3 weeks. Loss of some nutrients in beets—for example, its vitamin C content—is likely to be slowed down through refrigeration. 

Store the unwashed greens in a separate plastic bag squeezing out as much of the air as possible. Place in refrigerator where they will keep fresh for about four days. 

Raw beets do not freeze well since they tend to become soft upon thawing. Freezing cooked beets is fine; they’ll retain their flavor and texture. 

TIPS FOR PREPARING AND COOKING

 

Rinse gently under cold running water, taking care not to tear the skin, which helps keep the health-promoting pigments inside.

 

Since beet juice can stain your skin, wearing kitchen gloves is a good idea when handling beets. If your hands become stained during the cleaning and cooking process, simply rub some lemon juice on them to remove the stain.

 

Cut beets into quarters leaving 2 inches of tap root and 1 inch of stem on the beets.

Cook beets lightly. Studies show beets’ concentration of phytonutrients, such as betalains, is diminished by heat.

 

Fill the bottom of the steamer with 2 inches of water and bring to a rapid boil. Add beets, cover, and steam for 15 minutes. Beets are cooked when you can easily insert a fork or the tip or knife into the beet. 

Peel beets by setting them on a cutting board and rubbing the skin off with a paper towel. Wearing kitchen gloves will help prevent your hands from becoming stained. 

HOW TO ENJOY

 

Simply grate raw beets for a delicious and colorful addition to pasta

Boil beet greens for 1 minute and toss it with your favorite dressing for a great tasting side dish.

Canning beets in fresh lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, onions and fresh herbs, can be enjoyed year round.

You can add beets to your favorite veggie burger recipe

This is a delicious spinach and beet salad topped with nuts

Beets can be used as the main ingredient for a delicious soup

Beet juice is delicious by itself, but you can add any favorite vegetable to it.

And finally you can add beets to your favorite cookie recipe

 

A WORD OF CAUTION

Beets have consistently been determined to have high oxalate content. Oxalates are naturally occurring organic acids found in a wide variety of foods, and in the case of certain medical conditions, they must be greatly restricted in a meal plan to prevent over-accumulation inside the body.

 

Although there are numerous potential beet benefits, there are some people who may need to moderate their intake.

While rare, some people may be allergic to beets. If you experience any food allergy symptoms like hives, itching or swelling, discontinue use immediately and talk to your doctor.

 

REFERENCES

  • Augustsson K, Michaud DS, Rimm EB, et al. A prospective study of intake of fish and marine fatty acids and prostate cancer. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2003 May;12(1)64-7. 2003. PMID:12540506.
  • Bobek P, Galbavy S, Mariassyova M. The effect of red beet (Beta vulgaris var. rubra) fiber on alimentary hypercholesterolemia and chemically induced colon carcinogenesis in rats. Nahrung 2000 Jun;44(3):184-7. 2000.
  • Elbandy MA and Abdelfadeil MG. Stability of betalain pigments from a red beetroot (Beta vulgaris). Poster Session Presentation. The First International Conference of Food Industries and Biotechnology & Associated Fair. Al-Baath University, North Sinai, Egypt. 
  • Lee CH, Wettasinghe M, Bolling BW et al. Betalains, phase II enzyme-inducing components from red beetroot (Beta vulgaris L.) extracts. Nutr Cancer. 2005;53(1):91-103. 2005.
  • Lucarini M, Lanzi S, D’Evoli L et al. Intake of vitamin A and carotenoids from the Italian population–results of an Italian total diet study. Int J Vitam Nutr Res. 2006 May;76(3):103-9. 2006.
  • Reddy MK, Alexander-Lindo RL and Nair MG. Relative inhibition of lipid peroxidation, cyclooxygenase enzymes, and human tumor cell proliferation by natural food colors. J Agric Food Chem. 2005 Nov 16;53(23):9268-73. 2005.
  • Renner-Nance J. Improving the stability and performance of naturally derived color additives. DD Williamson Support Center Presentation, Louisville, KY, June 8, 2009.
  • Song W, Derito CM, Liu MK et al. Cellular antioxidant activity of common vegetables. J Agric Food Chem. 2010 Jun 9;58(11):6621-9. 2010.

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Responses

  1. Beets are so good for you and so easy to grow your own – that is why we at National Garden Bureau designated 2018 as the Year of the Beet – bit.ly/yearofthebeet


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