Beets or beetroots are part of the Chenopodiaceae family and are known for their bright, vibrant color and earthy taste. They are commonly tossed into salads and soups, pickled, or used as a natural coloring agent.
They also exude health benefits, can be used for a wide array of purposes and can bring great flavor to any dish. Included here, are all the reasons you should include this root veggie in your next dish!
Health Benefits of Beets
Beets have been used for centuries for both medicinal purposes and as a staple ingredient. Ancient Greeks grew beetroot back in 300 BC, while Hippocrates used beetroot greens to bind and dress wounds.
With a history so rich, it is no wonder beets are still a common ingredient found in a variety of dishes today. They are also incredibly good for the body! Here are some of the most impressive health benefits of beets:
1. Chock-full of Essential Nutrients
Beets contain phytonutrients with antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and detoxifying properties. They are also an excellent source of essential vitamins and minerals like folate, manganese, copper, fiber, potassium, phosphorus, vitamin C, iron, and vitamin b6!
2. Lowers Risk of Heart Disease
A recent study conducted by the American Journal of Physiology has shown that sources of dietary nitrate may reduce the risk of heart disease. This is because nitrate can dilate blood vessels which in turn would decrease blood pressure. It also reduces the overstimulation of the sympathetic nervous system, which is activated by an elevated heart rate, or high blood pressure.
Beetroot juice, an excellent source of dietary nitrate, was tested on volunteers, and a decrease in sympathetic nerve activity was observed, suggesting cardiovascular benefits.
3. Improves Blood Pressure
Dietary nitrate from beets not only lowers stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system, but it also converts into nitric oxide within the body. Nitric oxide is essential for lowering blood pressure because it helps your arteries stay dilated by relaxing smooth muscles in your blood vessels, and prevents blood from thickening and clotting.
In so many words, nitric oxide supports blood flow and in the process, lowers blood pressure.
4. Increases Stamina
A study performed by the University of Exeter, found that subjects who drank 500 ml of organic beet juice a day could last 16% longer when exercising. They believe this is, again, due to the nitrate content in beets. When dietary nitrates are converted to nitric oxide, researchers suspect that this leads to a reduction in oxygen intake. This makes exercise less vexing on the body.
This is amazing news for athletes because beet juice can naturally improve endurance during intense periods of exercise!
5. Keeps you Regular
Beets are an incredible source of dietary fiber which can help to keep you regular while reducing the risk of constipation, or diverticulitis. Beets also contain a compound called betaine hydrochloride that can stimulate digestion by helping the stomach break down protein and fat in food. It also aids with the body’s natural detoxifying process.
Tips and Tricks!
Throwing sliced beets into a salad is an excellent way to add nutrients, color, texture, and flavor to a dish, but there are many more exciting things to be done with this root veggie.
Beets are absolutely delicious when pickled. It intensifies their natural flavor, promotes gut health through the process of lacto-fermentation, and adds an extra zip to any dish. Pickling beets are also easy to do and you can keep them in your fridge for a long time. Try these Icelandic Pickled Beets when you want to add sweet, bold flavors to your next salad or sandwich.
Beets can also be used as a natural dye to color clothing or even food! Simply cover beets with water in a small saucepan, and boil until the beets are tender and the water has been reduced. The beautiful pinkish-red liquid that is left behind, is your natural dye!
Lastly, don’t overlook the greens that are attached to the beetroot! They are loaded with nutrients, and can be tossed into a salad, ground up into pesto, or sautéed to create an earthy side dish. Try this simple side dish of Beet Greens with Garlic and Toasted Almonds.
A Few Amazing, Beet-Based Recipes
Cooking with beets can produce amazing, delicious results and health benefits. Here are some vegan recipes suggestions from our Food Monster App.
1. Chioggia Beet Arugula and Quinoa Salad
This Chioggia Beet Arugula and Quinoa Salad are perfectly fresh and light, and excellent for lunch on a warm summer day. The natural sweetness of the beets and pomegranate, balance out the peppery, pungent bite of arugula wonderfully.
2. Easy Borscht
This Easy Borscht offers a plant-based take on a traditional European dish. It is sweet, sour, creamy, and topped with a luxurious cashew sour cream.
3. Healthy Beet Red Velvet Baked Doughnuts
Steamed beets give these Beet Red Velvet Doughnuts their gorgeous red color. These doughnuts are completely guilt-free, gluten-free, and come topped with a creamy cashew cream frosting sweetened with maple syrup.
For more beet-based recipes, we recommend downloading our Food Monster App, which is available for both Android and iPhone and can also be found on Instagram and Facebook. The app has more than 10,000 plant-based, allergy-friendly recipes, and subscribers gain access to new recipes every day. Check it out!
Lead Image Source: See-ming Lee/Flickr