Smart Food: Get with the Beet
Raw, picked, juiced, roasted, or steamed -- none of these options can be beat.
I recently became a huge fan of beets when a friend asked me to make a smoothie that incorporated them. I've enjoyed beets steamed and pickled in salads, but including them in a smoothie recipe was new territory for me, which got me excited to put them to the test. Familiar with the sweet yet slightly earthy taste of beets, I gathered some of my favorite smoothie ingredients and created a tasty concoction.
While the delicious taste is important, the nutritional attributes of this smoothie are even more impressive
Nutritional Benefits of Beets
Beets are root vegetables grown beneath the soil. They can be consumed in raw, pickled, juiced, roasted, or steamed form, but like any vegetable, beets lose some of their nutrient potency when they're cooked, especially for long periods of time.
Beets are known for their low calorie yet high sugar content, but don't let the high sugar content scare you. For instance, sugar that comes from a piece of candy spikes our blood sugar level almost instantly, while the sugar contained in a beet is released gradually into our bloodstream, which makes it an ideal source of energy for athletes who train or compete for several hours during the day.
Beets contain tryptophan, which provides us with a feeling of relaxation and ease similar to what we experience after eating chocolate. Some individuals that suffer from depression consume beets as a natural remedy to enhance their mood.
Studies have shown that the high levels of antioxidants in beets help to prevent various forms of cancers. Their ability to cleanse the liver and purify our blood helps our immune system fight illnesses by neutralizing toxins, which are later excreted through the urine.
Beets are also high in natural nitrates, which turn into nitric oxide as they travel through our bodies. Nitric oxide increases our blood oxygen level by widening the diameter of our blood vessels, which lowers blood pressure and enhances energy supply. This puts beets at the top of my super food list for athletes looking to increase endurance and stamina.
Like most vegetables, beets are high in fiber. Dietary fiber intake is important for our digestive and cardiovascular health. Most of us don't consume the recommended 25 grams of fiber per day. Eating more vegetables, like beets, will better help us reach our goal.
Give Beets a Try
If you're new to the world of beets, start by blending them fresh into a juice or smoothie with fruits like mango, orange, and pineapple. This will help your taste buds acclimate to their distinctive taste. Also, beets are digested more easily when they're blended into a liquid. If you're feeling adventurous, dive right into a fresh beet after it's been roasted or steamed and maximize on their incredible array of nutritional benefits.
For more information and beet recipes, visit to www.pronutritionconsulting.com Helen Agresti is a Registered Dietitian and founder of Professional Nutrition Consulting, LLC. She's ready to answer your questions about food trends, healthy eating, and all things food! You can contact her at hAgresti@ErieReader.com, and follow her on Twitter @HelenAgresti.