Anyone who knows beets primarily as a picked vegetable has definitely been missing out. This classic autumn and winter vegetable tastes even better when fresh, and packs a significant nutritional punch as well.
- ...can help lower blood pressure. Studies have suggested that beet juice can lower high blood pressure due to its nitrate content. The effect can be seen after just one hour in some cases.
- ...help protect the body’s cells. Beets owe their deep purple-red color to the natural coloring agent betanin, which has significant antioxidant properties.
- ...is a good option for anaemics. In ancient times beets were used to combat anemia, and rightly so; 200 grams of beets contain about 40% of your recommended daily folic acid intake, and 15 percent of your daily iron intake.
- ...can inhibit inflammation. Beetroot is particularly rich in secondary plant substances such as betaine, phenolic acids, flavonoids and saponins. This makes the vegetable and its juice from a natural remedy against inflammation.
- ...can help make you a better athlete. In trials with top athletes, researchers found that drinking beet juice made you run 3 perfect faster on average. This is due to the high nitrate content contained in beets, which dilates the blood vessels and reduces the oxygen requirement in the muscles during exercise.
- ...isn’t for everyone. The content of oxalic acid in beetroot is low, but can still be problematic for people with gout or rheumatism. If you have one of these conditions, make sure not to eat the beet leaves, as they contain a particularly high amount of oxalic acid.
What You Should Know About Beets
Beets play a particularly important role in Northern and Eastern European cuisine. The famous Polish soup is borschtsch is made up beets, while red herring salad, popular throughout Scandinavia, owes its distinct color and favor to beets.
Speaking of color: the beet’s natural coloring substance betanin has been used for years as a dye in food production, helping to make ice cream, desserts, james and juices more attractive. On labeling, its called “E 162”.
Beets are most nutritious and arguably taste better fresh, however the jarried varieties are pre-cooked and are therefore a good option if you’re looking for an easier and quicker preparation.
The earliest known consumption of beets dates back centuries to ancient Rome.
Beet season runs from late autumn through winter in the U.S.
Beets have a very pleasant, earthy taste with a hint of sweetness.
How Healthy Are Beets?
In ancient times beets were a medicinal plant used to treat anemia, and rightly so: modern research has shown that beets contain haematopoietic iron and a rich supply of folic acid, which can help prevent certain types of anaemia.
Another notable nutritious advantage of the beet is its high betanin content. This natural coloring agent (also known as beetroot) not only provides the beet’s beautiful dark red hue, but has antioxidant properties that fight cell-damaging free radicals in the body, strengthening the body's defenses and protecting the heart.
Beets are also rich in betaine, a secondary plant substance that stimulates liver function and strengthens the gallbladder.
Beets are also a good option for dieters, as they containt nutrients in abundant amounts but very few calories, carbs and fats.
|Beets Nutritional Info (100 g)|
Shopping and Cooking Tips
Fresh beets can be found in well-stocked supermarkets, specialty organic stores and at most farmers markets. When shopping for beets, ensure they feel very firm to the touch and that the skin looks intact. Remember that the smaller the beet, the more tender it is. Large beets tend to be more fibrous and have a woody taste.
Beets can stay fresh in a cool place such as the refrigerator or a dark pantry for up to two weeks.
If you’re preparing fresh beets, always remember to wear an apron and leave your favorite clothes in the closet, as beets leave stains. If you want to keep your hands red-free, wear disposible gloves while peeling and chopping, and a plastic cutting board if you don’t want to dye your wooden one dark red.
One trick to bypass all this is by boiling the beat for thirty minutes before preparing. This will freeze much of the dye in place, and leave less of its red hue on your hands and cutting board.
What To Make With Beets
Beets are delicious in a wide variety of preparations and dishes. Raw beets add a delicious crunch and dash of color to chopped salads, or a bunch of vitamins to a nutritious smoothie or vegetable juice.
Beets are also delicious warm, such as in the traditional Polish soup borscht, or boiled and served with coat cheese and cold vegetables.