Can’t Beat Beets

cant-beat-beetsWe know them as table, garden, red or golden. What you may not know is that beets are packed full of awesomeness.

The National Institutes of Health funded research study is a tough read, unless you have a command of Latin, know intimately the periodic table of elements and are a chemist, but one simple and stunning fact comes though: beets are really, really good for you. They contain powerful nutrient compounds which are shown to protect humans (and rats) from cancers, in particular colon cancer, heart disease, and a number of birth defects.

And, according to the University of Illinois, beets are particularly rich in folate.

“Folate and folic acid have been found to prevent neural-tube birth defects and aid in the fight against heart disease and anemia,” the UI Extension says.

“Beets are also high in fiber, both soluble and insoluble. Insoluble fiber helps to keep your intestinal track running smoothly and soluble fiber helps to keep your blood sugar and blood cholesterol levels on track.”

According to whfoods.org, beets contain the amazing phytonutrients betalains which include betanin and vulgaxanthin; two of best-studied betalains, which have both been shown to “provide antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and detoxification support.”

And if this all wasn’t incentive enough to include beets in your diet, in scientific studies on human tumor cells, “betanin pigments from beets have been shown to lessen tumor cell growth through a number of mechanisms, including inhibition of pro-inflammatory enzymes (specifically, cyclooxygenase enzymes),” according to whfoods. org, adding that while studies are not definitive proof, the results are nonetheless “encouraging” news for potential prevention and treatment of certain cancers.

One thing to keep in mind with beets is the potential for reddening of urine (beeturia) following consumption for some folks. And while whfoods.org says it’s not a cause for any concern, in some cases it may, emphasis on the word may, indicate problems with iron metabolism, namely, some “individuals with iron deficiency, iron excess, or specific problems with iron metabolism are much more likely to experience beeturia than individuals with healthy iron metabolism” and so if a person experiences beeturia and have already suspected an iron deficiency, check with a healthcare provider.

Nutritionally speaking, one cup of cooked, sliced beets contain 31 calories, 1.5 grams of protein, 8.5 grams of carbs, 1.5 grams of dietary fiber, 259 milligrams of potassium, 32 mg of phosphorus, Vitamin A 58.5 IU and 53.2 mcg of folate.

Try this beet treat:

Beet, Greens and Goat Cheese Slider.

In a pre-heated 450° F oven, cook freshly-picked beets (inside aluminum foil pieced with a fork so steam can escape) for about 30 minutes. After they cool, peel and slice. In the meantime, either use the beet green tops or spinach and sauté in a pan with olive oil and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. When the greens are wilted and cooked, add a splash of balsamic vinegar. Place sliced beets, cooked greens and dollop of goat cheese (if goat cheese isn’t your thing, substitute with ricotta, cream cheese, or mascarpone) on small whole grain buns. Top with dried currants, raisins or sultanas.