The beet is a member of the Amaranthaceae family and is known botanically as beta vulgaris. It’s key uses are culinary, livestock feed and traditional medicine, but beets can be used in a variety of ways. Try eating them raw, boiled, steamed, roasted or sautéed. Beets are bright red and make a perfect garnish for the artistic appearance of a meal. They also can be made into a number of tasty salads or added to your favorite sandwiches.
One of the first uses of beets was by the ancient Romans as an aphrodisiac, to increase libido. The increased libido occurs because of the nitrates found in beets, which increase blood flow to the genitals. It also is caused by the presence of boron, a chemical compound necessary for the production of sex hormones.
The nitrates in beets have the ability to reduce oxygen uptake and make exercise less tiresome. A study in 2009 showed that nitrates prolonged exercise up to 16 percent by increasing the effectiveness of the mitochondria, which provides your body with its energy. Beets are a great source of iron and healthy carbohydrates, providing instant energy to the body.
Weight Loss Aid
A chemical found in beets helps fight fat deposits in the liver. Beets are naturally sweet, refreshing and low in calories. A whole cup of beets only tacks on 60 calories and is full of fiber to boot. The high fiber content makes beets an effective laxative, keeping the colon clean and regulating bowel movements.
Healthy Heart and Blood Flow
Beets contain antioxidants and natural nitrates to nourish your cells and improve blood pressure and blood flow. Beets increase nitric oxide, enhance blood flow and reduce blood pressure by expanding the walls of the blood vessels. Studies indicate drinking two cups of beet juice daily can reduce blood pressure in healthy adults.
Rich in Folic Acid
Folic acid is a member of the B family of vitamins that has been touted for reducing the risk of birth defects. Some research has shown that if taken enough, it can reduce the threat of certain types of cancer as well.
Protects against Cancer
A study at Howard University in Washington, D.C. discovered that betacyanin, an antioxidant found in beets, slowed down the growth of tumors by 12.5 percent in patients with breast and prostate cancer. This finding aids in the diagnosis and management of cancer and can help cancer survivors remain cancer-free longer.
Contains Essential Nutrients That Keep Us Healthy
Beets are loaded with the stuff we need, such as sodium, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus and iron. Why do we need these nutrients, you may wonder? Well, calcium is necessary for building and maintaining strong bones. The heart’s nerves and muscles also require ample calcium to carry out their tasks properly. Magnesium helps the transmission of nerve impulses and regulates body temperature. Detoxification and energy production also are on its laundry list of benefits. Calcium cannot build strong bones and tissues without the help of phosphorous. Its main function is building strong bones and teeth, but it also strengthens cell membranes. Proper amounts of phosphorous boosts energy levels, making you more alert. Iron is responsible for breaking down and metabolizing proteins. Iron also eliminates the causes of fatigue and helps the immune system fight infections.
Contains Vitamin A
A powerful antioxidant that works to combat free radicals, vitamin A allows proper moisture preservation and maintains healthy bones and teeth. It is imperative to healthy eyes because it is converted to retinal, which allows the eyes to effectively differentiate between light and dark and therefore improves vision. Vitamin A is also great in building up disease resistance because, among other things, it helps the body manufacture white blood cells that battle infection.
Contains Vitamin C
Offering a long list of health benefits, vitamin C supports the immune system and reduces cold symptoms or the severity of them. Eating beets or drinking beet juice helps treat the common cold and fever because they both contain vitamin C. It prevents free radical damage that triggers inflammation. Vitamin C is helpful in promoting cardiovascular health since it combats the free radicals that can oxidize cholesterol, leading to plaques that cause heart attacks and stroke.
Produces an Alkaline Effect
Tremendous health benefits are associated with having a more alkaline state in your body. Some effects of an alkaline diet are beautiful and more elastic skin; deep sleep; lots of physical energy; fewer colds, headaches and viruses; good digestion; less arthritis; reduced yeast overgrowth; and increased mental alertness.
Incorporate Beets into Your Diet with Recipes from Mimi’s Organic Corner
Because I love organic food and pursue an eco-friendly lifestyle, I suggest using certified organic ingredients to maximize flavors and nutrition while minimizing your risk of exposure to pesticides, chemicals and preservatives.
Mediterranean Beet salad
Boil beets, let cool and chop. Garnish with raw garlic, cilantro, cumin, salt, pepper and lemon.
Balsamic Roasted Beet Salad
Roast beets in tin foil. Mix balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and Dijon mustard. Cut up beets and toss in the vinaigrette. Serve over arugula with slithered almonds and goat cheese.
Beet Orange Salad
Boil beets and set aside. Once cooled, peel and chop. Combine olive oil, sherry vinegar, salt, pepper, scallions, arugula and blood oranges. Add beets, toss and enjoy.
Beets with Grapefruit and Fennel
Boil beets and set aside. Once cooled, peel and chop. Cut grapefruit into wedges, slice a fennel bulb and toss with mayo, salt, pepper, and lemon juice.
Recipe calls for beef, oil, salt, pepper, onions, carrots, celery, beets, tomato juice, lemon juice and sugar. Brown beef in oil, add onions and simmer until the meat is tender. Add the rest of the ingredients and cook. Cover with water and boil, then simmer for desired consistency. Garnish with cilantro and enjoy! Add a dollop of sour cream to this soup for a creamy effect!