As a population, the United States has been neglecting beets, and it’s just got to stop. Beets are considered seasonal, but are there for us year round packed full of goodness, and just waiting for us to give them a chance. Their positive effects on our health are so numerous, that I believe they deserve their own article to sing their praises (and pull in some more beet loving converts). Historically, like the pomegranate, beets have been put to use in a variety of ways. They have been used as a natural dye, a precious sacrifice to the gods, for their medicinal properties and are well known for being an aphrodisiac. Today, we continue their use, as medical professionals and scientists are continually discovering more and more great stuff about them.
Conditions beets are known to help include:
Beets are full of both soluble and insoluble fiber that help reduce triglycerides and bad cholesterol while promoting healthy weight loss. They also contain a nutrient called Betaine that is known to lower homocysteine, an amino acid that’s linked with cardiovascular disease and blood clots, levels in the blood. The same nutrient also assists in a variety of other health issues. For more information on Betaine’s nutritional value, check out Betaine in human nutrition. In addition to that, beets contain a high level of potassium which relaxes blood vessels allowing blood to flow freely, thus reducing the risk of clotting and stroke.
B vitamin folate, or folic acid, is naturally found in beets. Many people are sufficient in folic acid, however those at risk of deficiency such as women of childbearing age, pregnant women, those with malabsorptive disorders or alcohol dependence, may have children that suffer from a group of birth disorders called neural tube defects. Folic acid plays a part in infant spinal column development.
One of the most exciting beet benefits is its cancer fighting abilities. What’s even more fantastic, is that is approaches cancer prevention from more than one direction. Beets contain pigment betacyanin, a beetroot pigment that counteracts cancerous cell growth and inhibits cell mutations caused by certain meat preservatives. Beets are also said to slow down tumor development and increase the number of CD8 cells in the colon that destroy cancer threats. Since colon cancer is ranked third in cancer related deaths, this is a big deal. On top of that, beets increase the body’s production of glutathione, a powerful antioxidant, that aids the liver (also stimulated by beet consumption) in in ridding the body of cancerous toxins. Overall, beets are known to decrease cancer risk, especially for the skin, lungs and colon.
One cup of beets is equivalent to 11% of your daily vitamin C requirement. Increasing vitamin C in your diet can aid in preventing asthma symptoms while stimulating white blood cells. Combined with it’s antioxidant qualities, beets fight off any unwanted respiratory infection that may come your way. In addition, the presence of beta carotene, helps in fighting lung cancer.
Beets are high in natural sugar, and therefore are also high in carbohydrates. However, these carbs are the good kind that burn slowly to fuel prolonged activities like distance running or sports. Due to the high level of nitrates, it has been found that beets also increase a person’s oxygen intake beyond what can be achieved through training and exercise alone.
The beta carotene in beets will protect your eyes from free radicals, helping prevent cataracts and slow macular degeneration, a disease that’s often age related in which blurring and blind spots affect your central vision.
Recorded early on by the Romans, the aphrodisiac quality of the beet has been well known for centuries. It even adorns ancient brothel walls in Pompeii! As unsexy as it may seem, the beet contains boron, which is scientifically known to boost the production of sex hormones. The result of eating beets could be increased libido, fertility, and sperm mobility.
Since beets are root vegetables and tend to taste more earthy despite their natural sugars, it’s good to find a balanced mix of sweeter fruits or vegetables to achieve a more appealing taste. Here are a few suggestions for beet juicing to get you going.
Beet Juice Blend
- 1 apple, cored and sliced
- 1 lemon, peeled
- 2 tall celery stalks
- 1 beet, with the leaves
- 1 handful of spinach (optional)
*For added sweetness, include more lemon and apple.
Directions: Add the apple, lemon, and celery to a juicer. Use a sharp knife to cut the beet into manageable pieces and then add it to your juicer. Note that because of a beet’s thickness, it’s best to juice last so that you don’t need to clean the pulp out of your juicer until you’re done. For extra greens, add spinach.
Courtesy of YOGANONYMOUS
Beet, Carrot, and Apple Juice with Ginger
- 2 pounds beets (about 6 medium), trimmed, peeled, cut into 1' pieces
- 1 pound carrots (about 4 large), trimmed, peeled, cut into 1' pieces
- 1 Gala or Empire apple (about 8 ounces), cored, cut into 1' pieces
- 1 Granny Smith apple (about 8 ounces), cored, cut into 1' pieces
- 1 3' piece fresh ginger, peeled, chopped into 1-inch pieces
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Directions: Pass first 5 ingredients through a juicer. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl. Stir in lemon juice. Pour into glasses.
RECIPE BY The Bon Appétit Test Kitchen
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