Can I get a drum ‘beet’ please...!
What is one of the best foods on the planet for liver health, heart health, even brain health and blood disorders? Yes, it is the lowly beet, only now gaining its rightful place for terrific health benefits and all around usefulness.
Why? Beets nutrition and the many benefits of beets —but of course!
You can get your ‘beet’ in many forms, whatever suits your lifestyle: beet juice (and I have a fabulous beet juice recipe – stay tuned!), beet greens (that dark leafy green that immediately signals ‘healthy’ – and tastes green), and even beet ice cream! (Don’t cringe, it tastes terrific! And you get beet juice benefits!)
In earlier times, before modern science figured out why, beets were recognized for their health benefits and were widely used for treatment of digestive and blood disorders.
And today, through the study of beets nutrition, amazingly, beets are known as an excellent source of Folate, a B vitamin essential to the health of red blood cells.
A one cup serving of cooked and sliced beets can represent up to a third of the recommended daily intake of Folates! (Adults require 400 micrograms per day; expecting and lactating women need 600 and 500 mcg respectively.)
Most people today consume enough Folate through normal nutrition. But that wasn't always the case. In 1998, the FDA mandated the addition of Folate, usually through folic acid, to a wide array of processed foods including breads, cereals, pasta, and rice intentionally, to engineer an increase in Folate intake nationwide. And it worked! The FDA program alone increased intake by an estimated 190 micrograms.
Good news and oh so very bad news.
The good new is processed food and trans fats are on their way out. Now the bad: that means we are eventually gonna be on our own as no one is adding the folic acid for us —so we beet-er get our act in gear! Yes, that is a pun —beets are a terrific, easy and inexpensive way to get our B vitamin folates.
With great nutrition comes AMAZING health benefits of beets.
Like many other foods, beets have been studied for cancer protective qualities. Beets contain ‘betalains’, a Phytonutrient or natural chemicals created by plants to protect themselves from bugs and germs.
There are many types of Phytonutrients —in fact plants produce over 25,000 different chemicals naturally!
When our bodies convert food in order to power our bodily functions and activities, we release chemicals known as ‘free radicals’ (they also come from the air we breathe, alas!) which attack cell in order to scavenge electrons.
Our body responds by sourcing electron donor elements, generally called antioxidants (Note: although you often hear that term, antioxidants are not really a substance but really an effect, the effect of stimulating the production of electrons to satisfy those nasty free radicals).
Plant based foods can be an important trigger for anti-oxidative behavior and Phytonutrients such as Carotenoids, Flavonoids and even the famous Resveratrol, the rumored anti-aging wonder substance from red wine, are all known for this beneficial effect.
The red in beets comes from Betalains, which have been shown to be powerful antioxidants. One of the major forms of Betalains to be found in beets is Betanin. Lab studies have indicated a potential significant cancer fighting effect of Betanin comparing it to proven anticancer drugs in its effect on breast and prostate cancer cells.
Beets are your livers best friend.
Another key benefit of the Phytonutrients in beets is their potential liver protective qualities. Our liver has many critical functions, among which are vital regulation and cleaning of the blood as well as the creation of cholesterol and essential proteins to be carried into the body.
Beet Phytonutrients have been studied to specifically gauge the detoxifying properties of beet Phytonutrients in the liver.
And in my opinion, a beet juice liver detox is one of the best ways to support our liver. Check out my favorite beet juice liver detox recipe below....
1 large beet plus beet greens
1 handful cilantro
1 handful parsley
1-2inch piece of ginger
Wash ingrendients. Juice. Drink immediately. Recommended 5 times per day.
BEETS AND HYPERTENSION
Studies have shown that ingredients in beets can relax blood vessels and thereby assist in lowering blood pressure of people with hypertension.
Patients consuming as little as one cup a day materially lowered their blood pressure: the effect lasted until two weeks after stopping. This study demonstrated an effective no-drug approach to a widespread problem. And beets were the key!
Beets can protect the heart. A substance called Homocysteine is an acid known as a trigger factor in cell injury and therefore inflammation in blood vessels, and ultimately coronary disease.
Inflammation is a natural process —it's how our body attempts to counter the effects of our environment, of processed food, of a sedentary lifestyle and so forth. But too much inflammation within the body can take us down the path to hardening of arteries, strokes and even dementia.
The nutrients in beets have proven anti-inflammatory effects! Make them part of a diet powered by food with proven heart benefits —and cut down the processed stuff!
Speaking of which, we need to talk about how to eat your beets (yes, you are going to – even if you have some bad memories of childhood experiences with this veggie).
The key thing is —the less cooking the better. And that goes for the beet greens as well. Remember that the Phytonutrients that makes beets red is known to break down due to the effect of heat. So what is the moral of this story?
1. When you steam beets, minimize the time say 10 – 15 minutes tops;
2. If you choose to roast them, no more than 60 minutes is best;
3. While the beet itself is hard to just chew down on, the leaves are delicious raw, in an amazing salad (I will have a terrific recipe for you – coming up!);
4. And here is the best idea, do not cook them at all!
And how do we do that?
Of course it is beet juice. By juicing we get to keep all of the beets nutrients and all of the benefits. And we can tailor both the taste and the nutrient blend as we wish, by simply mixing and matching added ingredients.
The entire beet is good for you! But some may prefer a less earthy taste than you get from the beet skin. One solution is to scrub the beet thoroughly to reduce the effect; another is to peel and remove the skin.
If you experiment with different combinations, you may find you can create delicious and hyper nutritious combination all your own and keep all the beet working for you.
Popular add ons to a beet based juice include: apples, ginger (for a flavor kick!), carrots, oranges, even cucumbers and berries. By mixing and matching, varying proportions and even styles of fruit —for example, there is a wide range of apples available with flavors from subtle to wow— you can perfect a combination that just won’t quit. And there is no better way to start your day than a ‘fantastic for you’ vegetable/fruit combination that you love just for its taste.
Here is a great beet juice recipe from the Food Network to start you off. Way different than the beet juice liver detox and my #1 Go to Super Juice. Check it out below.
So what did we discover about beets, beets nutrition and beet juice?
Well, we can eat all of the beet, leaves included, and get all the beets nutrition and health benefits galore. Beets are nutrient dense —this makes beets a very economical choice also.
The health benefits of beets range from liver improvement, better heart health, lower blood pressure and perhaps even cancer fighting properties. And they are low calorie, low fat, high in dietary fiber, high in manganese, have no cholesterol...the list goes on.
So, yeah baby! And yes, indeed, you should let the ‘beet’ go on, and on….go get some beets today!
Until Next Time,