These earthy-flavored jewels contain more than 80 nutrients! While beets are rich in folate, manganese, vitamin C, potassium, copper and fiber, the real all-star component is the antioxidant that gives them their neon magenta purple color, called betalains. Betalains are pigments that function as phytonutrients and are similar to anthocyanins, which are known for their anti-cancer properties. They provide the body with antioxidant support, essential to win the fight against free radicals. As a result, beets are incredible detoxifiers!
Cleanse That Liver!
With today's diet full of so many liver-congesting and disease-promoting foods and drinks such as alcohol, soda, processed foods, pesticides, additives, preservatives and hydrogenated fats, beets can be incredibly beneficial for ridding our bodies of these toxins. The betalains in beets have an affinity for the liver and help to move out toxins through the bloodstream. Not to mention that they are also anti-inflammatory which can help to promote cardiovascular health and many chronic illnesses.
Help With Hemorrhoids
Decreased liver function, or a "congested" liver is linked to hemorrhoids. Yup, those irritating buggers in your bunghole may go away with the regular intake of beets and beet juice. Now at first they may simply relieve the symptoms, but don't stop there. Consistent intake of beets and other root vegetables such as carrot juice over a long period of time is what will get these irritations to go away long term.
If you choose to eat beets for this purpose, incorporating them into your diet at least twice a week is important, as the betalains in beets have been found to leave the bloodstream within 12 hours.
No more little blue pill…beets are known to be nature’s Viagra®! Beets contain boron, which is known to stimulate the sex drive and to help balance sex hormones, including production of estrogen in menopausal women. Hormone balancing can also aid symptoms of menopause such as hot flashes and night sweats.
Additional Nutritional Benefits:
- Vitamin C boots immunity.
- Fiber promotes healthy digestion and elimination.
- Potassium promotes healthy nerve and muscle function.
- Manganese fortifies the bones and is necessary for proper brain function.
- Folate (B9) enables a healthy pregnancy and reduces the risk of birth defects.
Eat the Greens Too!
It's not just the purple root that's healthy for you...it's the leafy green tops as well! They contain a whole bunch of nutrients like zinc, B6, potassium, copper, manganese, phosphorous, vitamin A, vitamin C and calcium. They even contain more iron that spinach! So be sure not to throw them away. These greens, although slightly bitter, taste similar to swiss chard, and can therefore be sautéed or even added to homemade veggie juices.
Cooking with Beets
We are used to finding beets in their classic reddish purple hue, but their roots also come in white, yellow and even even rainbow-colored! Whether eaten roasted, steamed or pickled, they will add both nutrition and beauty to many dishes.
Beets have a hardy and rough exterior, but they are actually incredibly soft and lush when cooked. Just know that much of the betalain can be lost if boiled too long so try to limit cooking time. In fact, the difference between 15 minutes of cooking versus 25 minutes will significantly decrease the available nutrients. It's best to quarter them and steam them for no more than 15 minutes.
As with many fruits or vegetables, consuming them in juice is also very advantageous. Whole Foods now incorporates juice bars in their stores and is a great place to try beet juice if you have never tried it before!
Here are some other delicious recipes for incorporating beets in your diet:
ALERT! If you have eaten beets before you very well know that they will turn urine and feces purple. Know that this is not blood and is very normal! Beets can be very useful in determining "transit time" (mouth to anus digestion) for this reason. Normal transit time is between 10 and 14 hours.
So if you are curious about how your digestion is doing, eat some beets or drink some beet juice and tell us, what is your transit time?