It’s Time for Beets!
It’s time for beets! Whether you wear them on your face to brighten up your smile, eat them for their numerous health benefits, or you’re just now learning about their awesome advantages, all colors of beets and tender beet greens are waiting for you at your local farm stand.
Beets and beet greens provide amazing support to our natural detoxification system (1). They help with the production of bile in the liver and the flow of bile from the gallbladder. If you don’t have a gallbladder, then beets help your bile duct contract. Bile is one of nature’s ways of keeping our intestinal tracts free of infection.
In the liver, the phytonutrients in beets play an important role in phase two detoxification which means those nasty toxins we accumulate are converted into water-soluble forms to be released by the body (2). A happy liver means a happy gut!
Beet greens are loaded with natural folate, which is especially beneficial for women who are pregnant. They are also full of calcium, vitamin K, and iron. The colors, or flavonoids, in beets and beet greens speak for themselves as they are loaded with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties (3). Beets are also high in fiber, which is very beneficial to the efficiency of the digestive tract (4).
Since beets are high in nitrates, which convert to nitrites once they reach the stomach, they act as vasodilators, lowering blood pressure and improving blood flow (5). According to a study published in the National Library of Medicine, the nitrates that are found in beets have also been shown to aid in the protection of age-related cognitive decline by increasing the blood flow to certain areas of the brain (6). These nitrates also have benefits in athletic performance. According to another study published in the National Library of Medicine, the nitrates are shown to improve the efficiency of the mitochondria which is responsible for generating energy used in the body, therefore increasing athletic performance (7).
Historically, beets have been used as a natural remedy in Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda. They have been used to treat conditions such as anemia, heart weakness, liver toxicity, constipation, irritability, restlessness, irregular menstruation, herpes, and decreased libido (8).
Beets are not always a go-to grab for many people due to their interesting flavor, but there are many ways to incorporate these beneficial root vegetables into the diet without having to eat them by themselves. Beets can be added into smoothies, salads, slaws, sandwiches, pasta dishes, and even certain desserts. No reason to be scared away when there’s so many different ways to incorporate them into your diet! When buying beets, look for small or medium-sized beet roots that are smooth with a deep purple, red, pink striped, or golden-colored skin. Try to avoid beets that have any juice leaking from them or have large bruises or spots (8).
There are so many reasons to eat beets and support our local farmers who grow them. Here is Maria’s favorite way to prepare them:
2lbs beets (approx. 6 medium-size or 10 small beets)
Fresh parsley (optional, to garnish)
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Trim greens to 2” from the beet. Save the greens!
Place beets in aluminum foil and fold to seal.
Bake for 50 minutes to one hour or until beets are tender and easily pierced with a knife.
Peel off the skins and slice beets.
Place in a bowl, drizzle with balsamic vinegar and garnish with fresh parsley.
Stir fry the greens with a little bit of avocado oil for another nutritious and delicious side dish.
- Szaefer H;Krajka-Kuźniak V;Ignatowicz E;Adamska T;Baer-Dubowska W; “Evaluation of the Effect of Beetroot Juice on DMBA-Induced Damage in Liver and Mammary Gland of Female Sprague-Dawley Rats.” Phytotherapy Research: PTR, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23450834/.
- Kanner, J., et al. “Betalains–a New Class of Dietary Cationized Antioxidants.” Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Nov. 2001, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11714300.
- F; Gandía-Herrero F; Escribano J; García-Carmona. “Biological Activities of Plant Pigments Betalains.” Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25118005/.
- B;, Burton-Freeman. “Dietary Fiber and Energy Regulation.” The Journal of Nutrition, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10721886/.
- C;, Kukovetz WR; Holzmann S; Romanin. “Mechanism of Vasodilation by Nitrates: Role of Cyclic GMP.” Cardiology, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/2886220/.
- Presley TD; Morgan AR; Bechtold E; Clodfelter W; Dove RW; Jennings JM; Kraft RA; King SB; Laurienti PJ; Rejeski WJ; Burdette JH; Kim-Shapiro DB; Miller GD; “Acute Effect of a High Nitrate Diet on Brain Perfusion in Older Adults.” Nitric Oxide: Biology and Chemistry, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20951824/.
- Larsen FJ; Schiffer TA; Borniquel S; Sahlin K; Ekblom B; Lundberg JO; Weitzberg E; “Dietary Inorganic Nitrate Improves Mitochondrial Efficiency in Humans.” Cell Metabolism, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21284982/.
- Link, Rachael. “Increase Athletic Performance & Brain Health with This Veggie.” Dr. Axe, 6 Jan. 2020, draxe.com/nutrition/beets-benefits/.