What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of beets? For many of us, beets have a bad reputation of being the slimy, sugary, purple things at the salad bar. And I agree; the over processing of beets has wrongly given them a bad name.
Beets have provided nutritional, medicinal, and household benefits for thousands of years. Native to the Mediterranean, they have been around for centuries. They gained popularity and value in 19th century Europe during the reign of Napoleon, who declared beets as the primary source of sugar (you know I have to include a little food history! Beets have also been used for centuries to dye clothing a deep red color. Today, beet powder and juice are used as one of the main coloring agents in foods such as jams and tomato sauces.
Aside from their dying properties, beet pigments provide us with many great health benefits. They are often known for being higher in sugar than other vegetables; just ½ cup of beets contains 4.6 grams of sugar. Their higher sugar content should not be a turn-off though. Beets provide us with many phytonutrients and other nutritional benefits which deserve attention. According to the USDAs National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, ½ cup of raw beets provide us with 11 mg of Calcium, 211 mg of Potassium, 22 IU of Vitamin A and they are a good source of folate, Vit. C and fiber.
Beets are one of the few plants which contain the phytonutrient/pigment betalain, which gives them their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, along with their color. According to a 2006 study comparing the nutrition of canned, processed beets to raw beets, canned beets lost over 40% of their pigments and health benefits during processing. So while canned beets are still highly nutritious, I’d like to suggest a few other ways to prepare them that you might actually like. Beet juice is one of those ways. Beet juice contains high levels of nitrate, which studies show may help lower blood pressure and the risks of cardiovascular disease. And, though the science on whether beetroot juice helps with athletic performance remains promising (yet unclear), it certainly won’t hurt performance. Even better, a recent study showed that consumption of the nitrate-rich whole beet improved running performance in healthy adults.
If the idea of beetroot juice turns you off, don’t worry. There are many ways to eat beets! One way is to steam the beet greens, which has a similar taste to the bitterness of Swiss chard, and is a great way to retain nutrients. If you don’t like greens, roasting beets is also a delicious and nutritious side dish (I’m telling you you have to try them..they are FANTASTIC!)
Simple Roasted Beets
Ingredients:-4-5 fresh beets -1 Tbsp Olive Oil -salt/pepper to taste
- Wash beets and remove greens
- cut beets into ¼ inch cubes and place in baking dish
- Drizzle 1 Tbsp of olive oil over the beets and mix to ensure even coating
- Add salt and pepper for taste
- Bake in oven at 350 F for 45 min or until tender
Check HERE to view our video on making this roasted beets recipe!