Let’s be honest, beets are one of those foods that you either love or hate. Originally grown along the coast of North Africa, Asia and Europe, beets date back to ancient, prehistoric times when the beet green was what people ate. The red ball that we eat today didn’t become the “beet” until the ancient Roman era. Beets are naturally sweet, and the sugar beet is often used as raw material in the production of sugar. But beets have so much to offer that they are definitely worth a second taste.
The Nutritional Lowdown
Beets are a great source of fiber (something we all need a little more of), immune-boosting vitamin C, nerve & muscle protecting potassium and liver, kidney and pancreas loving manganese. In addition, they are load with folate and vitamin B which help protect against birth defects. Even though beets are one of the highest sugar content vegetables, the sugar is naturally occuring and released slowly into the body as opposed to the quick shot you would get eating a brownie (you can actually use beets to make a healthier, more nutritous chocolate, gooey square). All this nutritional goodness will only set you back 60 calories per cup.
The Top 5 Reasons You Should Eat Beets
There are lots of reasons to eat beets, but here are the best ones:
- Lower blood pressure thanks to the naturally occurring nitrates found in beets.
- More energy and less depression as a result of the high iron content, betaine and tryptophan.
- Less inflammation as betaine works to protect cells, proteins and enzymes from environmental stressors.
- Potential cancer prevention because the beet’s red color is due to phytonutrients, which are known to help prevent cancers and slow tumor growth.
- Detox support as the betalin pigments support phase 2 detox when toxins are bound to other molecules so they can leave your body. Beets also help purify your blood and liver.
Beets are more than just a vegetable. Here are some of the roles that beets have played in history and continue to be used for:
- Napoleon declared that beets be used as the primary sugar source after the British restricted access to sugar cane.
- You can use beet juice to measure acidity.
- In 19th century England, the Victorians used beets as hair dye.
- Beets can be made into wine.
- Beets were eaten in space when the cosmonauts served borscht to the astronauts of Apollo 18.
- Since Roman times, beets have been considered an aphrodisiac, and this actually has some merit thanks to the huge amounts of boron that beets contain. Boron is directly related to sex hormone production.
- It is thought that if a man and woman eat from the same beet, they will fall in love.
This is the perfect time to bring home and enjoy some beets. During the spring, they tend to be tenderer and can easily be incorporated into salads, roasted or even grilled. Looking for a quick and tasty beet recipe? I suggest taking a Real Bite out of Real Bite Chicken & Roasted Beet Salad tonight.