Beets are the perfect little bundles of health that are extremely versatile and tasty. Whether you roast them as one, slice and steam them, make them into chips, juice them, blend them….beets are full of important nutritional benefits.
Beetroot is an ancient food source that was first cultivated by the Romans. During the 19th century, beets rose in popularity after it was discovered that they could be converted into a form of sugar due to their natural sweetness.
Beets get their purplish-reddish colour from the natural pigment betacyanin. However, there are other varieties of beets that are white or golden too. These are lovely and sweet but are often hard to find.
Beets are of exceptional nutritional value. Firstly, they are a fantastic liver supportive food. Without getting too sciency…beets play an important role in liver detoxification, specifically phase II liver detoxification, which is when the toxins, which have been broken down into metabolites, become bound to other metabolites that assist in their excretion from the body.
Not only do beets assist liver function, they also help to purify the blood and can increase its oxygen carrying capacity by up to 400%! Thus, beetroot helps to cleanse the blood, the body and the liver!
Beets also act as powerful colon cleansers, helping to detoxify and cleanse the digestive tract. Beetroot is also rich in iron, making it a fantastic source for non meat-eaters and a powerful blood enricher.
An alkaline vegetable, beets are antioxidant rich and can help create balance if you have an acidic body state or condition. Beets are betaine-rich, an important nutrient that helps to fight inflammation and protect the body from environmental stress. Further research has also found beetroot to be a potent anticancer and disease-fighting food.
Beets can also be helpful in normalizing blood pressure. This is likely from the nitrates within the vegetable of which are converted to nitric oxide within the body. Nitric oxide acts to relax and dilate the blood vessels, which, in turn, result in better blood flow and decreased blood pressure. Nitric oxide can also help improve oxygen use during low intensity exercise as well as assist an individuals tolerance to high intensity exercise. No wonder Olympians are all drinking beetroot juice to improve their stamina!
The greens of the leaves are also of great nutritional benefit. Be sure to keep them and add them to your next salad, stirfry, smoothie or curry. These leafy greens belong to the same family as spinach and silverbeet and contain some of the best sources of chlorophyll, potassium, iron and the vitamins A and C. These nutrients help to strengthen bones, fight cognitive decline and strengthen immunity and the production of white blood cells and antibodies.
Beetroot is delicious yet distinctive in taste. It is often eaten cooked but can also be consumed raw.