Truly A Super Food
The pigments that give beets their vibrant color, whether purple or gold, are unique from other fruits and vegetables in their antioxidant phytonutrient content. Betalain is the group antioxidant pigments predominant in beets. There are two types of betalians and one is predominant in purple beets and the other is in gold beets, giving the two colors of beets slightly different nutritional profiles. Each has shown antioxidant and anti-inflammatory abilities. The betalains have been shown to inhibit the COX 1 and 2 inflammatory processes. There is a class of drugs used in arthritis that is called COX 2 inhibitors. That is how important this pathway is to relieving inflammation.
Beets have two modes of action to reduce inflammation. One way is to inhibit the COX 1 and 2 the other is by providing betaine. Betaine is made from choline, contained in b-vitamin complex, and is associated with reduced inflammation in the cardiovascular system and helping reduce homocysteine, a marker indicating increased aging and systemic inflammation. Also, betaine presence in the diet has been associated with lower levels of several key inflammatory markers.
Reader Lynne H. asked about the difference in the nutrient content of gold vs. purple beets. The difference may be in the luetin content. Beet greens and golden beets contain the most of this potent anti-oxidant carotenoid found beneficial in optimal eye health.
But wait, there’s more…the betalain pigments in beets have been shown to support our body’s Phase 2 detoxification process. To make a long and complicated story short, they help our bodies grab hold of toxins and eliminate them through our urine.
More Health Benefits Than We Know
Thanks to the website whfoods.org for this great info on beets. They also write,
“Foods belonging to the chenopod family — including beets, chard, spinach and quinoa — continue to show an increasing number of health benefits not readily available from other food families. The red and yellow betalain pigments found in this food family, their unique epoxyxanthophyll carotenoids, and the special connection between their overall phytonutrients and our nervous system health (including our specialized nervous system organs like the eye) point to the chenopod family of foods as unique in their health value.”
Beets have yet to be completely understood for all their health benefits, as is true of most of our food. So, please eat them in their whole, unprocessed state.
Delicious Way to Eat Beets
Go ahead and peel one and grate it in your next salad for juicy sweetness and beautiful color. Bake one whole and unpeeled next to your baked potato. Then peel, dice and eat as a side dish or in a salad. Here are my favorite beets recipes. Use either purple or gold except for the spiralized salad, it needs gold to keep the colors separate.
Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls forth each of them by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.
Spiralized Rainbow Salad
This fabulous winter salad requires a spiral slicer. I got a “Veggetti” at Ross for $9. It also requires a strong set of dentures! It’s very crunchy. Don’t skip the miso, it adds probiotics and a salty tang. Enjoy!
1 large carrot
1 large golden beet
1 medium zucchini
1 red bell pepper
¼ purple onion
½ cup roasted pine nuts, slivered almonds, or other roasted nuts or seeds
Parsley and/or sesame seeds for garnish
2 T almond butter
1 t rice vinegar
1 t miso paste
juice of 1 lime
½ t ginger
1 tsp maple syrup
Spiral slice the carrot, beet and zucchini. Thinly slice the pepper and onion. Place in a large bowl and set aside.
Whisk the dressing ingredients together, pour over the veggies and toss.
Garnish with nuts or seeds, and parsley.
Beet and Orange Salad
8-10 small red or gold beets
2 navel oranges
½ purple onion
salt and pepper to taste
Bake beets in their skins 1-1.5 hours, depending on the size, at 350 degrees. Then allow them to cool enough to handle. Peel the beets, use them whole or cube them into bite-sized cubes and place into a medium-sized bowl.
Peel and cut the sections from the oranges and place into a bowl. Set the skeleton of the orange aside to use in the vinaigrette.
Slice the red onion as thin as possible and place in the bowl with the orange slices. Toss everything with the citrus vinaigrette, add salt and pepper to taste and serve.
Juice from the skeleton of two navel oranges (squeeze out what is left over from sectioning)
¼ cup *Sicilian lemon vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
¼ cup *Blood orange extra virgin olive oil
pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
1-2 T Agave nectar for sweetness (optional)
Mix ingredients in a small jar, cover and shake to blend. Pour over beet salad and enjoy.
*If you can’t find this specialty oil and vinegar just substitute rice vinegar or other mild vinegar and olive oil.
Arugula and Raw Beet Salad
Serves 2 as an entrée, 4 as a side
1 small box of washed, organic baby arugula
1 med size beet, peeled and grated
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1 avocado, cubed
2 T lemon flavored vinegar, or rice vinegar
2 T lemon Juice
2 T olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
3 T roasted pine nuts
2 dates, chopped (optional)
Place the sliced onion in a small bowl and toss with the lemon vinegar and lemon juice. Let them sit for about 10 minutes.
Add the arugula, beets, and avocado into a large bowl. Pour the onion mixture over the greens and toss.
Drizzle the olive oil over the salad; add salt and pepper then toss to coat.
Portion out the servings and garnish with pine nuts and dates.
Entrée serving: 483 calories, 7g protein, 50g carbs, 12g fiber, 30g fat, 32g sugar, 43g vitamin A, 43g vitamin C, 18g Calcium, 15g iron.
Beets are another vegetable I trick my guests into eating. When they say “what is this?” holding up their fork with a beet on the end of it, I snicker. I add grated raw red or gold beets to my seven-day salad. They add beautiful color and are juicy and sweet. Most people think they don’t like beets because they have only been exposed to canned pickled beets. Sour, mushy canned beets are nothing like sweet, juicy, and crunchy raw or roasted beets without vinegar.
Not Just Good Looking
Beets are super liver cleansers. Most of the benefits of beets have not even been isolated. Meaning there is no supplement that can do what whole beets can do. Nutrients in beets include 2g protein, 4g fiber, 37% DV of folate, 11% DV vitamin C, and 28% DV of the antioxidant mineral manganese. But, the benefits of beets are not exclusive to their micro and macro nutrient profile.