Beets have been on my “don’t ask, don’t tell” produce list for years. Their unsightly appearance and tendency to stain your hands a bright reddish hue has left me less than enthused about including them in my daily diet. Let’s put it this way: I’ve never enthusiastically asked anyone to “Pass the steamed beets, please!”
However, in recent years upon discovering how nutritionally dense they are, I’ve changed my feelings about this winter root veggie and hope you will, too.
Health benefits: Beets – which come in red, gold and white varieties – are loaded with essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, B1, B2, B6 and C. They’re also extremely high in fiber and nitrates, which are thought to help lower blood pressure and provide cardiovascular benefits.
According to a 2010 study from Queen Mary University of London, a single glass of beet juice can lower blood pressure in a matter of a few hours and is also believed to help boost athletic performance.
Beets also contain betanin and vulgaxanthin – complicated names for phytonutrients referred to as betalains, which have been shown to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and detoxification properties; this meaning they can help prevent heart disease and even certain types of cancer.
Nutritional statistics: 1/2 cup sliced beets contain approximately 37 calories, 0 grams fat, 65 mg sodium, 8 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber, 7 grams sugar, 1 gram protein.
Cooking methods: To preserve the nutrients of beets, be sure not to overcook them. Whole Foods recommends cutting medium beets into quarters and forgo removing the skin. Then, steam for just 15 minutes or until tender and serve as a side dish or add to salads. Steamed beats can also be pureed and added to sweet potato mashes or soups. They can also be sliced thin, tossed in olive oil and baked into chips (see recipe below). And don’t forget about the beet greens. Filled with an equally impressive amount of vitamins and minerals, the greens can be added to salads, soups and even mixed into pestos. Check out these five healthy recipes below for a good place to start. And for even more inspiration, check out these 10 additional recipes to begin incorporating beets into your diet today.
Grilled Beet and Hummus Stuffed Pita from Naturally Ella
Chocolate Beet Cake with Ganache Frosting from Naturally Ella
December 30th, 2012