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You Ask, I Answer: Beets

beetAnything in particular worth knowing about the nutrition of beets?

I love them in salads.  In the summer, it’s not out of the ordinary for me to have beets every single day.

– Paula Seeley
(Location withheld)

Beets are a wonderful addition to any diet.  Make sure to NOT wear white when eating them (if you think permanent marker stains are bad, wait until you get a tiny smudge of beet on you; even Tide-To-Go sticks raise a white flag).

When mass media went bonkers over the antioxidants in blueberries a few years ago, beets were treated like the redheaded stepchild.

Betacyanin, the antioxidants that gives blueberries their pigment, is also found in very high quantities in beets!

Betacyanin is a big deal because studies have found it to be super powerful when it comes to reducing inflammation (the main factor behind many degenerative diseases) and slowing down tumor proliferation.

Beets offer a one-two punch because they also contain another pigment known as betanin.

Betanin is especially effective at lowering heart disease risk because it reduces levels of homocysteine.  High homocysteine levels are problematic because they damage the inside of arteries, thereby allowing blood clots to form and LDL to build up as plaque, thereby heightening cardiovascular disease risk.

A study by Israel’s Agricultural Research Organization found that “a relatively low concentration of betanin was found to inhibit lipid peroxidation of membranes or linoleate emulsion catalyzed by the free iron redox cycle, H2O2-activated metmyoglobin, or lipoxygenase.”  Laymen translation: betanin is your heart’s friend.

Apart from being a low-calorie food (like all vegetables), beets also offer folate, manganese, and potassium.

Whenever possible, aim for fresh — rather than canned — beets.  If raw beets aren’t your thing, roast them — along with other root vegetables like sweet potatoes, carrots, and radishes — in olive oil and salt.

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2 Comments

  1. Val said on February 22nd, 2010

    I’ve roasted them with carrots and turnips…what colors!!! Love them! Also threw in a little fresh rosemary…really topped it off nicely!

  2. Andy Bellatti said on February 23rd, 2010

    Great flavor — and color! — combo.

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