Eating a beet is a real torture for most kids. If only they knew how beneficial beets are, they will surely introduce them into their diet.
Beets are part of the chenopod family like the spinach and the quinoa. These plants have so many health benefits and they also contain carotenoits and yellow betalain pigments where is found connection between the nervous system health and these phytonutrients. All of this makes the chenopod family very well for the human body.
Beets contain betalains that are a rare phytonutrients source. There are 2 forms of betalains : vulgaxanthin and betanin that provide detoxification, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant support. There are also a few other foods that contain betalains, such as nopal cactus(Mexican prickly pear), amaranth, chard and rhubarb.
It is a long history about the beet. The ancestor of the beet, the wild beet is thought to be from North Africa. It was chosen to be featured in the Babylon’s Hanging Gardens. The ancient Romans used the beet as an aphrodisiac. Beets help women that are in their menopause to regain their sex-drive because they are rich in boron which is related to the sex hormone production.
Beetroot, during the middle Ages, was used for medicinal purposes like for illness of the blood or digestion. It is not confirmed if anyone have been cured of the illnesses but anyway there were really important minerals and vitamins in their diet.
The beet’s popularity was increased also by Napoleon who after the British powers restricted the access to sugar cane he sent decree where he said that beets would become the main sugar source.
The health benefits of the beets
Beet, like many other foods, is rich in minerals and vitamins. They are also rich in folic acid, beta carotene, Vitamins A, B and C, Iron, phosphorus, fiber, magnesium and potassium. The high levels of iron and vitamin B help women that are pregnant to form new growth cells. All of these benefits make the beet such a super food that helps in preventing colon, testicular, prostate, breast, lung, nerve and stomach cancers.
The beet fiber together with pectin polysaccharides brings benefits to the cardiovascular system and digestive tract that other fiber doesn’t. That is why health research has focused on this amazing fiber to see why it is affecting the body in so many beneficial ways.
Sometimes, people who love beet might notice 1 small issue. The urine turns a pinkish-reddish color from the betalain pigments called and that is called- Beeturia. This happens when iron is not well metabolized in the body. Consult with physician if your urine is turning colors after you eat beets.
It has been found a fine relationship between athleticism and beet juice. Beet juice is rich in nitrates that are used by the body to make nitric oxide and nitrite. These 2 chemicals expand the blood vessels and they protect them from injury(by increasing endurance and muscle power).
There is a study that showed that beet juice increased the time of exercise endurance by 17% while it caused the oxygen need to drop by 19%. The 2011, Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise journal study showed that cyclists who drink beet juice could cut eleven seconds off of 4 kilometer times and forty seconds off of 16.1 km times. There is more research that should be completed but the next big thing for the athletes could be the beet juice.
Beet has a bit confusing look. Its leaves are green and they are connected to an oblong-round part, the beet. Usually, beet has purple-reddish color, but the color variety is big. They can also be white to yellow and sometimes the roots are rainbow colored. The betalain which is quite rare is the one that gives the beet its reddish pigment while the red cabbage gets its color from anthocyanin.
Beets are quite sweet because it is highly rich in sugar. When the beetroot is raw it has crunchy texture, but when it is cooked, it is buttery and softer. Its leaves are also edible but bitter and they are very similar to chard.
How to prepare your beets
The season of the beets is from June to October. If you want to choose the best beet, try to look at the medium or small sized with smooth skin, deep color and firm roots. If they are younger and smaller, the after cooking peeling is not necessary.
Some studies suggest that beets should be roasted for an hour or less and steamed for less than fifteen minutes, because of the betalain chemical sensitivity. They are very sensitive and they can bleed from the smallest puncture or bruise. Don’t treat them like the other tough foods, because even they look really tough they are actually very delicate.
Do not wash the beets before you store them. You should keep them in a plastic bag(without air) because they are very sensitive to oxidation. Beets can stay in the refrigerator up to 3 weeks, but you can also freeze them after you cook them because if they are not cooked, after the thawing they will become less desirable and soft.
In the past, the beet leaves were eaten instead of the root. But these days, when people know that they are both edible, there are amounts of different recipes. The best way to cook the beet leaves is to prepare them as you usually prepare Swiss chard or spinach. People in Eastern Europe use the beet pickled, cooked and raw but also as a main ingredient in borscht. It is also used as a dietary aid for the horses which are training for competition and in making wine.
Try to add the beet into your salads and soups by grating it. You can also roast, boil, pickle, grill or marinate the beets with herbs, extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice.
Find some fun ways to get your family eating the beets in case they don’t really like them. It may become the new favorite food in your home if your family knows that beets are rich in sugar and that they contain energy with low calories.