Beets: Proven Good Eats

By: JANE SCHWARTZ

If you’ve heard any nutrition news lately, you probably already know that beets are being lauded as the all-star of root vegetables. A number of research studies show that there is good reason for it.

Alright, by now you’re probably ready to skip this article, because, after all, who enjoys eating beets? Chocolate research – now that’s gripping news. Drinking more coffee and red wine — well, sure – because it’s healthy.

But beets? If you think learning that a vegetable is good for you shouldn’t even be news, keep reading to learn just why these super-powerful rouge heroes should become a big part of your diet, and how to make them completely delectable (and I’m not just talking about borscht).

Large studies have supported the following health benefits about beets.

  • They might ward off dementia: Beets are linked to increased perfusion, or blood flow, to the brain, specifically the areas associated with degeneration and cognition (Dan Shapiro, Wake Forest’s Translational Science Center)
  • Drinking beet juice can lower blood pressure (Wake Forest)
  • Endurance athletes perform faster after consuming beets, because, as explained in “Beet It: Can Beets Help You Run Faster? How Nitrates May Affect Exercise Performance,” the vegetables “reduce the oxygen cost of exercise” (Jennifer Koslo, Precision Nutrition publication)
  • Beets can improve “blood structure and cures diseases of the circulatory system, large intestine, and digestive system,” according to Russian longevity researcher Mikhail Tombak, Ph.D. (Kim Evans, “Natural News”)
  • They can lower cholesterol (“Natural News”)
  • These vegetables are excellent sources of vitamins and minerals, especially folate and manganese, as well as vitamin C and potassium
  • Beets are high in dietary fiber, which helps regulate the digestive system
  • The average raw beet contains no fat, about 35-40 calories, and just five grams of sugar

Beets are, seemingly, a miracle root. But who does that help when no one eats them? If you have ever passed by the leafy, bulbous creatures without notice – or even with a grunt of disgust – here are a few new ways to prepare them so they are not only palatable, but preferable. A former beet-basher, I took this article as a challenge, expecting to write this beet-praising piece with just a touch of fibbing (I’m only kidding – I would never lie to you.). But just to make it perfectly clear, these recipes for beets are actually tasty! I devoured them for dinner, leftover lunches, and in-between snacks. And then I had to buy more, because, after two days, I had eaten them all.

My opinion on beets has transformed, and I’ll never get them out of my grocery rotation now. Hopefully you will feel the same way.

First up: simple and earthy roasted beets. This recipe is as easy as pie and almost as delicious, but with a lot of healthy extras. Following is a beet and apple slaw recipe adapted from “Big Vegan” by Robin Asbell (Chronicle 2011). This makes an excellent side, topping, or mix-in for any kind of sandwich, soup, salad, or meat. It is light and crisp, and the tartness of green apples is a perfect match for the sweet beets.

Always start by washing your beets well. I bought mine from my local farmer’s market, so it was important to remove any residual dirt.

Roast Beets

Makes about 4 servings

Ingredients

4 medium-sized beets
A few tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Other root vegetables, roughly chopped (optional)

Roughly chop the beets and place in a baking dish. Stir in olive oil, salt, and pepper, or any seasonings you enjoy. You may also want to include other root vegetables, like potatoes, carrots, or onions. Bake at about 375* until beets begin to turn deeper red and tender (around 30 minutes for four medium-sized beets).

Beet and Apple Slaw

Makes 6 to 7 servings

Ingredients

1 medium beet, trimmed, peeled and cut into chunks
2 medium Granny Smith apples, cored and cut into chunks
1/2 head green cabbage, cored
3 tablespoons champagne vinegar (or substitute white wine, rice, or apple cider vinegar)
1 tablespoon agave syrup (or honey)
1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup packed coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley ( garnish)

Use a box grater or a food processor to coarsely shred the chunks of beet and apples, transferring them to a large stainless-steel mixing bowl as you work.

Using the food processor or the large-holed side of a box grater, or by hand, thinly slice the cabbage. Add it to the bowl.

Whisk together the vinegar, agave syrup, mustard and salt in a small bowl. Whisk in the oil to form an emulsified dressing.

Pour the dressing over the beet-cabbage mixture and toss to coat thoroughly. Transfer the salad to a serving bowl and sprinkle the parsley over it all. Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days, and serve chilled.

Photo Credit

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Categories: Home, Your Health News, Your Nutrition

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