Why beets are beet-utiful
Beets are a rich source of betalains (phytonutrients that are responsible for that beautiful blood red pigment). Betalains offer antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and detoxification support. It is worth noting that betalain content does decrease as cooking time increases. It is recommended that beets be steamed no longer than 15 minutes or roasted no longer than 1 hour in order to reap the benefits of these betalains.
Betalains along with vitamin C and manganese make beets a rich antioxidant source. Antioxidants are important for combating free radical damage in the body that contributes to heart disease, cancers, and premature aging. More specifically, beet antioxidants have been studied for their positive effects on eye and nerve tissue health.
Along with the betalains, beets contain betaine. Betaine, a key nutrient in the body made from choline (a B vitamin), is particularly helpful in preventing atherosclerosis (inflammation and hardening of the arteries).
Betalain pigments support Phase 2 detoxification in the liver whereby harmful and unwanted toxins and chemicals are neutralized (through a binding process) to become water soluble and thus more easily eliminated from the body. The fiber in beets will also help with proper digestion and elimination.
All of the above functions along with the high fiber content of beets make them a great vegetable for preventing cancer, cardiovascular disease, and promoting overall health and wellbeing.
Here are some easy ways to integrate beets into your diet?
Grate raw beets into salads for a punch of colour and a nice sweet crunch
Roast beets with sweet potatoes for a sweet side dish, snack or salad topper
Add beets (roasted or raw) to hummus for a pleasingly pink snack
Steam beets and toss with fresh herbs, lemon and olive oil
Ferment/pickle beets with bacterial culture for probiotic benefit
And don’t forget about the greens! Sauté beet tops with a little olive oil and garlic or orange juice and cinnamon or toss them into soups, stir-fries, or a frittata
Here’s an easy Beet and Basil salad recipe to get started.