beetsCredit: Image courtesy of RobynsWorld (pixabay.com)

Today, a lot of health experts recommend that we include fermented foods in our diet to get good bacteria. As you know, there are several kinds of fermented products in the market, like kvass. The most popular variety of kvass is beet kvass, which is made from beets. So, what makes beetroot an ideal ingredient for this popular beverage? This article will offer information about beets, beet kvass and their various health benefits. 

Why should You Eat Beets?

Beets help improve your 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 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 rich in fiber.

Aside from essential nutrients, beets also have phytonutrients like betalain, a phytonutrient that is responsible for the food'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

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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? 

A. Bioavailability of Nutrients

Fermentation is an ancient method of preserving food products. Today, we know that this technique does wonderful things to our food, like unleashing the nutrients in beetroot.  

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 nutrients we absorb.

As for raw beetroot, most of its nutrients are trapped in a 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, several studies have revealed the important role of “good bacteria” inside our bodies.

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As of today, more and more people are getting acquainted with probiotic foods and drinks. One reason is that 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 aids in your digestion process. Thus, drinking this healthful drink before meals can benefit your digestive health.

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, beetroots have betalains that offer several perks. For one, it is a potent antioxidant, which can help neutralize the free radicals inside your 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), an enzyme that helps bind toxins with glutathione. Afterwards, toxic substances are then neutralized and excreted out of your body.

Microorganisms present in beet kvass can also help cleanse your 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

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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 various healthful substances that can greatly influence your health. Aside from helping your body to function efficiently, these nutrients can also strengthen your defenses against harmful microorganisms. Vitamin A and C are some of the nutrients found in beets that may help boost your 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 your immunity in a positive way.[5]  

E. Other Health Benefits

  • Researches have linked beet kvass to cancer prevention due to various factors. One, in particular, is the drink's high antioxidant contents and anti-inflammatory agents. Moreover, this fermented beverage can also aid in your liver’s detoxification process. All these three factors combined can strengthen your defense against cancer.[2]
  • Because beets are rich in iron and folate, beet kvass is an excellent remedy for anemia.
  • Betaine is another valuable substance in beets that can help protect the liver. Aside from that, betaine is also important for your heart's health.  
  • Free radicals and oxidative stress can cause premature aging. With its antioxidants, beet kvass can give you a radiant and youthful complexion.  
Zukay Super Root Kvass (Pack of 6)
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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 your health. For example, fiber ensures proper bowel movement and cleanses your 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, it is strongly recommended to only cook this food for a short period. You can also eat it raw. Its sweet and earthy flavor is a great addition to your salad recipes.

B. Juices and Smoothies

Beet juiceCredit: Image courtesy of lauracuriacu (pixabay.com)

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

In addition, 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 the food. Once nitrates are ingested, it is evidently converted into nitric oxide, which can dilate your blood vessels, eventually leading to an improvement in your blood flow.

So, why did studies focused on beet juice? Basically, both cooking and the fermentation process can decrease the amount of nitrates in a beetroot. 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 the plant. In a nutritional point of view, beet greens have more nutrients than beetroot.

Compared to beetroot, beet greens have vitamin K and iron. Lastly, it has a phytonutrient known as lutein, a compound that is valuable for your eye’s health. 

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

Beets: The Ultimate Recipe Guide!
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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 beetsCredit: Image courtesy of margenauer (pixabay.com)

  • 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. Remember, 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 to 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 the flavor but add more nutrients to your homemade beet kvass.

Overall, 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
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As I've mentioned above, you can starter culture instead of yogurt.It can help start the fermentation process.