Most people do not consider beets to be anything more than messy and fun to throw at cars. However, the hearty blood colored root is actually an amazing source of nutrients. Though most peoples' taste for beets may have been ruined after their parents forced them to eat it.
The beets reputation at the dinner table is way down at the bottom of the scale along with liver and onions. Too bad, though. Beets are chocked full of vitamins, minerals, and has lots of cancer preventative properties.
If you are on a health kick, you better start acquiring a taste for beets. Beets have a very rich earthy taste, but has a subtle sweetness that can be brought out through cooking or enhanced by adding a little brown sugar to roasted beets.
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So What Vitamins Do Beets Have
Beets contain sodium, iron, magnesium, calcium, iron, phosphorous, potassium, vitamin A, vitamin C, and niacin. That is a mighty load of vitamins and minerals. They are also a great source of fiber. There are quite a few miracle stories out there about fussy bowels being cleared up by a few beets every couple of days.
Beets also contain folic acid and folate which are extremely helpful if you happen to be pregnant. As pregnant women need a good source of folic acid, folate, and iron for their unborn child. Certainly you can take them in pill form, but eating these vitamins through food is like mainlining them into your blood. Beets are considered a very helpful food for pregnant women and can be counted among the foods that prevent birth defects.
Beets serve as a healthy source of natural sugar and carbohydrates as well. If you are on a low-carb diet, beets are still dear friends to you. In today's world where obesity runs rampant, 'low-carb' essentially means no processed food or breads. Carbohydrates are body fuel, you need them for energy. A diet that says you cannot have a vegetable is a diet that is full of bullpoo.
The natural sugars in beets give them that subtle sweetness, these are the good kind of sugars. So if you suffer from diabetes, beets are not something that will send you into glycerin shock. They may not taste like it, but they are an amazing way to solve a sugar craving without actually having any high calorie sugar foods.
On the topic of calories, a half cup of steamed beets contains 37 calories with no fat what so ever. If you are watching you weight line, try some beets.
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Benefits of Beets
As well as regulating bowels and helping pregnant women get their vitamins, beets have several other benefits for the body.
The red color that beets have is created by a group of phyotonutrients known as Betalains. Betalains are a rich antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and detoxifying nutrient that are richest in beets. These betalains have been found to be cancer preventative. Scientists found that adding beet betalains to a Petri dish with human cancer cells prevents their growth significantly. They have been found most effective in treating and preventing colon cancer in particular, most likely because of the beets high fiber content.
Beets are also great for the cardiovascular system. Because of their potassium content, the beet is a great source for treating high blood pressure if you get bored with eating bananas. Bananas are of course recommended for those with high blood pressure because they have very high potassium levels.
Among lowering blood pressure, beets also help with the production of red blood cells, which is why they are recommended in the holistic treatment of many blood diseases. The folate in beets help lower the levels of homocysteine in the blood, which is an inflammatory agent that damages your arteries and increases the risk of heart disease.
How To Eat Beets
Beets are great, you know this now, but what you do not know is how to eat them. When heated, beets lose a lot of their antioxidant properties and vitamins, so they are best fresh and raw. If you do cook them, never do it for more than 15 minutes. Beets from a can are alright, as well as pickled beets, but you just cannot beat the benefits of fresh beets.
Do not just toss beet leaves away either. They are like red spinach, they contain many of the same vitamins that the beet roots to as well. Not to mention they go excellent in any salad.
You can steam beets, roast them, cover them in a brown sugar glaze, or make them into a decadent borscht. However the best way to eat beets is to grate them onto a salad. This is especially helpful if you cannot stand the taste, but want to eat them. Grated beets are barely noticeable, just do not forget to add the greens to that salad too.
I recommend a spinach salad with a raspberry vinaigrette. The raspberry helps bring out the sweetness of the beets and masks the red color that the grated beets will give your salad. The beet greens, as was mentioned before, are much like spinach. They have a very similar taste.
Beets are most beneficial when juiced though. Beet juice is extremely potent stuff though, the taste will overwhelm and put off even the most hardened vegetable juice lover. Try mixing it with carrot juice of apple juice to make it more enjoyable.
Downside of Beets
While beets are extremely healthy, if you have had any interaction with them you will also notice they are extremely messy. The red beets will stain anything it touches pink, including your hands, though that will come off in a few washes.
Try to avoid using a wooden or plastic cutting board. Try a polished stone or a glass cutting board instead. This will prevent any permanent damage. Also, if you are grating it, get an all metal grater, beet juice can and will stain any plastic it touches. To avoid anything permanent, clean up any spills quickly with a chemical cleaner like fantastik or lysol kitchen cleaner.
Beets also have a chance to turn your urine and stool pink. It is essentially harmless so do not go rushing off to your doctor. If your urine in pink, it may mean you have low stomach acid so if you are also having stomach problems, that is probably the reason.