10 reasons to Eat More Beets and Some of My Favorite Ways to Prepare Them.


I recently had the most delicious  beet salad at The Collins Quarter while visiting my son in Savannah. When I see beet salad on a menu, i usually order it, not just because it tastes amazing and gives me great energy, but because it has so many healthy benefits for my body. If you cruise past beets in the produce section, back up. They are exceptionally good for you. They are rich in naturally occurring nitrates, chemicals that widen blood vessels, which can  lower blood pressure while increasing oxygen-rich blood flow to the brain and muscles. I love them juiced in smoothies, in salads, pickled and roasted. This vibrant vegetable is often included in my detox because they are loaded with fiber which helps with elimination.  Still not sure? Here are my top 10 reasons why you should be including beets in your diet weekly.

1. Beets boast an impressive nutritional profile.

They are low in calories, yet high in valuable vitamins and minerals. In fact, they contain a bit of almost all the vitamins and minerals that you need. Since they are naturally high in sugar, they do contain the most carbs of any vegetable, but their vitamin and mineral content makes them a valuable part of your diet. Because of this, I usually eat them on higher carb days. 

Here is an overview of the nutrients found in a 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of cooked beetroot :

  • Calories: 44
  • Protein: 1.7 grams
  • Fat: 0.2 grams
  • Fiber: 2 grams
  • Vitamin C: 6% of the RDI
  • Folate: 20% of the RDI
  • Vitamin B6: 3% of the RDI
  • Magnesium: 6% of the RDI
  • Potassium: 9% of the RDI
  • Phosphorous: 4% of the RDI
  • Manganese: 16% of the RDI
  • Iron: 4% of the RDI

 

2. Help Keep Blood Pressure in Check

Heart disease, including heart attacks, heart failure and stroke, is one of the leading causes of death worldwide, and high blood pressure is one of the leading risk factors for the development of these conditions. Beets can significantly lower blood pressure by up to 4–10 mmHg over a period of only a few hours.

3. Can Improve Athletic Performance

Eating beets may enhance athletic performance by improving oxygen use and time to exhaustion.  The result is improved energy and endurance. If you participate in competitive sports or HIIT training, try drinking a beet smoothie  2–3 hours prior to training or competing for a boost in endurance. 

4. May Help Fight Inflammation

Chronic inflammation is associated with a number of diseases, such as obesity, heart disease, liver disease and cancer. Beets contain pigments called betalains, which possess a number of anti-inflammatory properties. 

One study in humans with osteoarthritis showed that betalain capsules made with beetroot extract reduced pain and discomfort associated with the condition. I'm a huge believer in letting food be your medicine cabinet, so if you can eat your way to less pain instead of popping meds, go for it! 

5. May  Improve Digestive Health

Dietary fiber is an important component of a healthy diet. It has been linked to many health benefits, including improved digestion.

One cup of beetroot contains 3.4 grams of fiber, making beets an excellent source of fiber. Fiber bypasses digestion and heads down to the colon, where it either feeds the friendly gut bacteria or adds bulk to stool. This can promote digestive health, keep you regular and prevent digestive conditions like constipation, inflammatory bowel disease and diverticulitis.

Moreover, fiber has been linked to a reduced risk of chronic diseases including colon cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes. 

If you struggle with constipation, eating a high fiber diet will definitely help you become more regular. 

6.May Help Support Brain Health

Mental and cognitive function naturally decline with age. For some, this decline is significant and may result in conditions like dementia.

Interestingly, the nitrates in beets may improve mental and cognitive function by promoting the dilation of blood vessels and thus increasing blood flow to the brain. 

Beets have been shown to particularly improve blood flow to the frontal lobe of the brain, an area associated with higher-level thinking, such as decision making and working memory. Yet another reason why beets should be on your weekly shopping list. 

 

7. May Have Some Anti-Cancer Properties

Cancer is a serious and potentially fatal disease characterized by the uncontrolled growth of cells. Because of the antioxidant content and anti-inflammatory nature of beets, the colorful root vegetable  has led to an interest in its ability to prevent cancer.

8.  Can Help with Weight Loss

Are you trying to lose weight? Beets can help. Beets have several nutritional properties that can assist with your weight loss goals. As mentioned earlier, 

beets are low in calories and high in water. Increasing your intake of low-calorie high fiber foods like fruits and vegetables  have been associated with weight loss. 

Likewise,  despite their low calorie content, beets contain moderate amounts of protein and fiber. These are both important nutrients for achieving and maintaining a healthy weight. The protein and fiber help keep you feeling fuller longer, reduce appetite, and  reduce one's overall calorie intake.

9. Beets Boost Eye Health

Beet greens are a good source of lutein, an antioxidant that helps protect the eyes from age-related macular degeneration and cataracts. They also contain a wide variety of phytochemicals that may help improve the health of your eyes and nerve tissues.

10. Delicious and Easy to Include in Your Diet

This last one is not a health benefit, but is equally important, because if you want to take advantage of all it has to offer, you'll want some ways to prepare them. 

Not only are beets nutritious, but they are also incredibly delicious and easy to incorporate into your diet.

Beets can be juiced, eaten raw in salads, roasted, steamed or pickled.  

Choose beets that are heavy for their size with fresh, unwilted green leafy tops still attached.

Here are some delicious and interesting ways to add more beets to your diet:

  • Beetroot salad: Grated beets make a flavorful and colorful addition to coleslaw.
  • Beetroot dip: Beets blended with Greek yogurt make a delicious and healthy dip.
  • Beetroot juice: Fresh beetroot juice is best, as store-bought juice can be high in added sugars and may only contain a small amount of beets.
  • Beetroot leaves: Beet leaves can be cooked and enjoyed like spinach, so don't throw them out.

Beet and Goat Cheese Salad

Ingredients
  • 6 ounces mixed greens lettuce I use 50/50 blend spinach and spring mix leaves
  • 1 large avocado
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup toasted pistachios
  • 1 can (15 ounces) mandarin oranges
  • 1/2 - 1 full can (15 ounces) full can small whole beets (OR fresh roasted beets; see recipe notes)
  • Crumbled goat cheese or feta will work
Dressing
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 2 teaspoons orange zest
  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/3 cup avocado oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon poppyseeds
Instructions
  1. Place the lettuce in a large bowl.
  2. Remove the pit and peel of a ripe avocado. Chop into small pieces and toss with lemon juice. Add to the lettuce.
  3. Drain the mandarin oranges and add those.
  4. Drain and rinse the whole beets. Allow to dry. (Depending on how many beets you want in the salad, you may only want to use half the can. I'm crazy about beets so we generally use 3/4ths the can in the salad and then eat the rest with dinner)
  5. Chop up the whole beets and add to the salad.
  6. Toss the salad with the dressing (see instructions below) and then add the toasted pistachios and crumbled feta or goat cheese.
  7. Do not toss the salad with the dressing until right ready to enjoy the salad. This salad doesn't store or sit well.
Dressing
  1. Combine all of the ingredients except for the poppyseeds in a small blender or food processor (I used a Twister jar with my Blendtec). Blend and taste. Adjust to personal preference and then stir in the poppyseeds.
  2. Toss however much dressing you want with the salad. Leftover dressing will stay good up to a week in an airtight container in the fridge.
Make ahead
  1. If you aren't planning on eating this salad all in one sitting, do not toss all the ingredients together or toss with the dressing. If making it ahead of time, keep the lettuce separate, the dressing separate, and all the veggies/toppings separate. Toss all together right before enjoying.
Recipe Notes

The quantities of ingredients are a general guideline. Add more or less of your favorite salad fixings depending on your personal preference. 

  TO ROAST BEETS: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Wash the beets well and Cut them into 1/2 inch to 1 inch and place them on a sheet pan. Drizzle with coconut oil and season generously with sea salt and coursely ground pepper.  Roast them for 50-60 minutes (depending on their size) or until a small sharp knife can easily be inserted in the middle. (Tip: peel and slice the beets on parchment paper to prevent staining your cutting board. Use gloves to avoid staining your hands!)

 

Beet Pineapple Smoothie Recipe

Beet Pineapple Smoothie Recipe

 

What You Need:

  • 5 baby carrots
  • 1 small beet 
  • 1/2 cup frozen pineapple 
  • 4 – 6 oz of coconut water – you can use regular water if you prefer

What You Do:

  • Place ingredients as listed into blending device
  • Blend until smooth
  • Enjoy!

Beet Ginger Smoothie

  • 1 beet ( I use 1/2 red and 1/2 golden)
  • 1 orange (or use 1 cup orange juice)
  • 1 inch piece of ginger
  • drizzle of honey
  • handful of ice

Blend together and enjoy!

 

Beet Smoothie with Kale and Strawberries (Makes 1) 

ingredients
  • 1 small roasted or fresh beet
  • 1 cup frozen or fresh strawberries
  • ½ a banana
  • 1 kale leaf, torn into pieces
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp. almond butter
  • ½ Tbsp. hemp hearts
  • ½ cup water
  1. Place all ingredients in blender and pulse to thoroughly mix. If desired, reserve hemp hearts and sprinkle on top for texture.

Do you have a favorite beet recipe? Please share below. 
Here's to helping you love the body you live in!

Ruth 

 

 

 


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