Beets may well be one of the least frequently consumed vegetables in America. Perhaps they’ve fallen into disuse in our hurry-up, everything-instant frenzy of life because they require some prep time. And beet greens probably find their way to the table even more seldom than the root that sprouted them.
But with a growing awareness of health and nutrition, the popularity of beets and their greens also seems to be on the rise.
Beets have been around for thousands of years and flourish in all kinds of climates. Their speedy rate of growth makes it possible to harvest two crops per year even in many northern regions.
Beets are making their comeback in three primary forms: beet juice, beet greens, and beet roots, each with its unique set of benefits.
If you’re looking for a pre-workout energy drink to boost your stamina, beet juice does just that. The juice is high in nitrates that help promote blood flow and lower blood pressure.
Beet juice also contains betalain, a powerful antioxidant that is an anti-inflammatory, fungicidal, and aids in the detoxification of the body. Beet juice promotes eye and liver health, prevents anemia, and helps heal gout, kidney and gall bladder issues.
Beet greens rank as one of the richest food sources of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber and contain more beneficial nutrients than its root. Beet greens boast healthy amounts of:
- Vitamins K, A, C and B1, 3, and 6
- Minerals: copper, potassium, manganese, magnesium, calcium, iron, and phosphorus
- Carotenoids: lutein and beta-carotene
These nutrients strengthen the immune system, fight cancer and heart disease, help prevent osteoporosis, boost bone strength, and may even help ward off Alzheimer’s.
In bygone eras, beet greens were eaten, while the roots were reserved for medicinal purposes. Today, we’ve all but forgotten the leaves and eat the root.
Beet roots also contain healthy amounts of the nutrients listed above. The root is low in calories and high in fiber. Additionally, raw beets provide an excellent source of folates necessary for DNA synthesis in our cells.
The deep crimson color in beets stems from betalain and other antioxidant phytonutrients. These vary from vegetable to vegetable, not only creating a beautiful array of colors, but a host of health benefits. So a colorful presentation of vegetables on the table translates into a cornucopia of nutrients as well.
The secret is out. Beets and their greens offer a double-dose of nutrients and minerals all combined in one beautiful package. Now it’s up to you to experiment with a thousand different ways to enjoy their rich flavor and healthful benefits.