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Beet Kvass and the Various Health Benefits of Beets

By Edited Jun 5, 2016 2 0

beets

Fermented foods and drinks have existed for a long time. Today, a lot of health experts recommend that we include these healthful products in our diet. As you know, there are several kinds of fermented products in the market. Kvass is one of them.

As of today, you can make or buy various kinds of kvass. Beet kvass is one of the most popular varieties of kvass. This healthful drink is made from beets.

So, what makes beetroot an ideal ingredient for this infamous drink? This article will offer information about beets, beet kvass and its various health benefits. 

Why should You Eat Beets?

Beets help improve our health in many ways. You’ll read more about the health benefits of beets as you read further. For now, let’s focus our attention on the nutrient contents of beets.

When it comes to essential nutrients, beets have tons of these healthful compounds. It is an excellent source of vitamin A, C, folate and niacin. It is also loaded with minerals like iron, potassium, calcium, and manganese. Lastly, beetroot is also high in fiber.

Aside from essential nutrients, beets also have phytonutrients like betalain. This phytonutrient is responsible for the beet’s deep red hue. But, betalain is more than just a stain. It is actually a potent antioxidant.  

With all these healthful compounds, including beets in your meals is definitely a wise choice. An even better choice is beet kvass. How so? 

Beet Kvass and Its Health Benefits

fermented beets

Traditionally made with sourdough, kvass is a popular drink in European countries like Russia and Ukraine. As I’ve mentioned above, there are many varieties of kvass. You can use various fruits like raspberries when making this healthful drink. For now, let us focus on beet kvass and its health benefits.

As a vegetable rich in sugar and nutrients, beetroot is a perfect ingredient for kvass. But, is this beverage good for your health? Here are the health benefits of drinking beet kvass. 

A. Bioavailability of Nutrients

Fermentation is an ancient method of preserving food products. Today, we know that this ancient technique does wonderful things to our food. One of these things relates to nutrition. Basically, the fermentation process unleashes the nutrients in beets.  

In my previous article about why most vegetables are not meant to be eaten raw or unprocessed, I’ve mentioned several factors that can affect the amount of nutrient we absorb.

As for raw beets, most of its nutrients are trapped inside its resilient plant cell wall. As you know, most plant cell walls are mostly made of cellulose. We cannot digest this plant part since we lack an enzyme known as cellulase.

Through the fermentation process, this resilient plant part can be ruptured. Thus, essential nutrients are easily absorbed by our body. In some cases, the good bacteria present in beet kvass can even increase the product’s overall nutrient value.

B. A Probiotic Drink

When we read about microorganisms, some of us will automatically think about certain ailments. But, not all bacteria are detrimental for our health. Today, more researches are done about the important role of “good bacteria” towards our health.

beet kvass

As of today, more and more people are getting acquainted with probiotic foods and drinks. One reason for this is because they offer numerous health benefits. While most of these health benefits need more research, it is clear that probiotic foods and drinks can help promote a healthy gut.

As I've written in my article about cultured vegetables, one characteristic of a healthy gut is having a high percentage of good bacteria. This ensures that pathogenic bacteria will not dominate the good bacteria in our intestines. Through this, pathogenic bacteria won’t cause havoc inside our digestive tract. Furthermore, researches have shown that probiotic products can help reduce the occurrences of bloating, constipation and other digestive problems.

Keep in mind that beet kvass does not only contain good bacteria. It also has digestive enzymes that play a role in our digestion process. Thus, drinking this healthful drink before meals can also improve digestion.

C. A Detox Drink

What makes beet kvass an excellent detox drink? This is actually due to one of the components of beets.

As I’ve mentioned earlier, beets have betalains. This phytonutrient is the primary reason for beet’s red color. But, it also offers other benefits. For one, it is a potent antioxidant. It can help neutralize free radicals inside our body.

Aside from that, betalain also support our liver’s detoxification process specifically phase-2. To be specific, it helps eliminate toxic substances that require glutathione. This is because betalain can trigger the activity of glutathione-S-transfarase (GST). It is an enzyme that helps bind toxins with glutathione. Afterwards, toxic substances are then neutralized and excreted out of our body.

Microorganisms present in beet kvass can also help cleanse our body. Researches have shown that some strains of good bacteria are also capable of binding to toxic substances. Once we excrete these bacteria, toxins attached to them are also excreted.

D. Boost Our Immune System

beet kvass

How does beet kvass strengthen our immune system? This can happen in various ways.

First is through the nutrient contents of beets. Remember, beet is an excellent source of essential nutrients. These nutrients can greatly influence our health. Aside from helping our body to function efficiently, these nutrients can also strengthen our defenses against harmful microorganisms. Vitamin A and C are some of the nutrients found in beets that may help boost our immune system.   

Another way is through the help of the lactic acid bacteria present in beet kvass. Aside from competing with pathogenic bacteria for nourishment, good bacteria can also influence our immune system in a positive way.[5]  

E. Other Health Benefits

  • Researches have linked beet kvass to cancer prevention. This is due to various factors. For one, it is rich in antioxidants. It also has compound that act as anti-inflammatory agents. Lastly, it can aid in our liver’s detoxification process. All these three factors combined can strengthen our defense against cancer.[2]
  • Since beets are rich in iron and folate, beet kvass is an excellent remedy for anemia.
  • Betaine is another valuable constituent of beets. It helps protect the liver. It is also important for our cardiovascular health.  
  • Free radicals and oxidative stress can negatively affect our skin. As you know, these substances can cause premature aging. With its antioxidants, beet kvass can give you a youthful complexion.  
Zukay Super Root Kvass (Pack of 6)
Amazon Price: $31.50 Buy Now
(price as of Jun 5, 2016)

Other Ways to Consume Beets

A. Beetroot

Some of you may not favor fermented beet’s unique flavor.  If this is the case, consuming beet root is a good alternative. Remember, compared to beet kvass, beetroot has fiber. This is not a bad thing. In fact, fiber has an important role in our health. For one, it ensures proper bowel movement. It also cleanses our intestines. Lastly, it may also help lower our cholesterol and glucose levels.

Keep in mind that some nutrients and phytonutrients present in beetroot are delicate. Thus, cooking it for short duration is strongly recommended. You can also eat it raw. Its sweet flavor is a great addition to your salad recipes.

B. Juices and Smoothies

Beet juice

Beet juice and smoothies is another way to consume beets. Except for the probiotic benefits of beet kvass, beet juice can also offer the other health benefits of beets.

In addition to that, several studies have also linked beet juice to lowering blood pressure. It can also improve our performance during exercise or athletic activities.[3] This is mainly due to the nitrates present in beetroot. Once nitrates are ingested, it is evidently converted into nitric oxide. Basically, nitric oxide can dilate our blood vessels. It eventually leads to an improvement in our blood flow.

So, why did studies focused on beet juice? Basically, both cooking and the fermentation process can decrease the amount of nitrates in beets. For this reason, juicing is chosen as the best method to get this health benefit of beets.  

Unfortunately, beets have the highest amount of sugar among vegetables. Thus, it is best to drink beet juice in moderation.

C. Beet Greens

Of course, let’s not forget about the green leafy part of beets. In a nutritional point of view, it has more nutrients than beetroot.

Compared to beetroot, beet greens have vitamin K. It is also an excellent source of iron. Lastly, it has a phytonutrient known as lutein. This healthful compound is valuable for our eye’s health. 

Sautéing is a highly recommended method for cooking this nutritious green leafy vegetable. You can also add this vegetable in your veggie juice or smoothie recipe.

Beets: The Ultimate Recipe Guide!
Amazon Price: Buy Now
(price as of Jun 5, 2016)
There are many ways to cook beets. This cookbook offers recipes for you to enjoy the earthy and sweet flavor of beets.

How to Make Beet Kvass

Tips and Reminders

health benefits of beets

  • When making beet kvass, it is strongly advised to chop beets instead of grating or shredding them. This is mainly because of the high sugar content of beets. If you grate or shred it, alcohol fermentation will occur instead of lacto-fermentation.
  • It is also recommended to use chlorine-free water. Chlorine is typically added to our water to kill harmful microorganisms. When you use water with chlorine, good bacteria won’t be able to grow.
  • Salt is typically added to inhibit the growth of bad bacteria. A highly recommended salt you can use is sea salt.
  • In some occasions, too much salt may lead to an unappealing flavor. As a remedy, you can use Whey (yogurt) or a starter culture. These products can start the fermentation process. At the same time, it can also help inhibit the growth of pathogenic bacteria.
  • You can add other ingredients like ginger, orange and cabbage. This will not only enhance its flavor. It will also add more nutrients to your homemade beet kvass.

With all that, drinking a glass of beet kvass is not only refreshing. It can also improve your health. 

Cutting Edge Cultures Vegetable Starter Culture, 6 Pouches, 12g
Amazon Price: $25.99 Buy Now
(price as of Jun 5, 2016)
As I've mentioned above, you can starter culture instead of yogurt.It can help start the fermentation process.
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Bibliography

  1. Micah Janzen " Beet Kvass - The Miracle of Russia." Homestead.org. 8/05/2016 <Web >
  2. Veronique Desaulniers "The Benefits of Beet Kvass." Breast Cancer.org. 8/05/2016 <Web >
  3. Marjorie S. Miller "To beet or not to beet? Researchers test theories of beet juice benefits." Penn State University . 8/05/2016 <Web >
  4. "How to boost your immune system." Harvard Health Publications . 8/05/2016 <Web >
  5. Perdigón G1, Fuller R, Raya R. "Lactic acid bacteria and their effect on the immune system.." National Center for Biotechnology Information (PubMed.gov). 8/05/2016 <Web >
  6. Parvez S1, Malik KA, Ah Kang S, Kim HY. "Probiotics and their fermented food products are beneficial for health.." National Center for Biotechnology Information (PubMed.gov) . 8/05/2016 <Web >
  7. Tom Clifford,1 Glyn Howatson,1,2 Daniel J. West,1 and Emma J. Stevenson1,* "The Potential Benefits of Red Beetroot Supplementation in Health and Disease." National Center for Biotechnology Information (PubMed.gov) . 8/05/2016 <Web >
  8. Kanner J1, Harel S, Granit R. "Betalains--a new class of dietary cationized antioxidants.." National Center for Biotechnology Information (PubMed.gov) . 8/05/2016 <Web >
  9. "The Importance of Probiotics." Pacific College of Oriental Medicine . 8/05/2016 <Web >

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