Beets (Beta vulgaris) are a root vegetable that is native to the Mediterranean region. They have a round or oblong shape and a deep red or purple colour, although there are also varieties that are yellow or white. Beets have a sweet, earthy flavour and are often used in a variety of dishes, including salads, soups, and roasted vegetables.
Beets Nutritional Facts
Many nutrients can be found in beets, including:
- Folate: A B vitamin that is important for cell growth and development
- Manganese: A mineral that is necessary for the proper function of many enzymes in the body
- Potassium: An electrolyte that helps to regulate heart function and fluid balance in the body
- Nitrates: Compounds that have been shown to have a range of health benefits, including reducing blood pressure and improving athletic performance
In addition to their nutritional content, beets have also been traditionally used for their potential medicinal properties. Some studies have suggested that beets may have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and detoxifying effects. This potential benefit needs to be confirmed through further research, however.
Beets can be consumed in a variety of ways. They can be roasted, boiled, or steamed and eaten as a side dish or added to salads and sandwiches. Beets can also be juiced or blended into smoothies for a nutrient-rich boost. It is important to note that beets can stain, so it is a good idea to wear gloves or use a vegetable peeler to remove the skin before cooking them.
Top 5 Health Benefits of Beets
Beets are a nutritious root vegetable that is a good source of several vitamins and minerals, as well as plant compounds with potential health benefits. Here are some of the potential health benefits of consuming beets:
- Heart health: Beets are a good source of folate, a B vitamin that is important for heart health. Some studies have also suggested that consuming beets may help to lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease.
- Improved athletic performance: Beets are a good source of nitrates, compounds that have been shown to improve athletic performance by increasing the efficiency of oxygen use in the body.
- Detoxification: Beets contain plant compounds called betalains, which have been shown to have detoxifying effects in the body. Some studies have suggested that consuming beets may help to protect against oxidative stress and reduce the risk of certain types of cancer.
- Reduced Inflammation: Beets contain antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds that may help to reduce inflammation in the body.
- Improved Cognitive function: Some studies have suggested that consuming beets may improve cognitive function and protect against age-related decline in brain function.
Simple Beets Recipes
Here are a few simple and delicious recipes that feature beets:
- Roasted Beets: Preheat your oven to 400°F (200°C). Cut the leaves off of a few beets and wash the beets thoroughly. Wrap the beets in aluminium foil after rubbing them with olive oil. Place the beets on a baking sheet and roast them in the oven for 45-60 minutes, or until they are tender. Remove the skins from the beets by rubbing them with a paper towel after they have cooled slightly. Slice the beets and serve them as a side dish or add them to salads.
- Beet Salad: Slice a few cooked beets into thin wedges and arrange them on a plate. Top the beets with a handful of arugulas and a few slices of goat cheese. Drizzle the salad with a homemade vinaigrette made from olive oil, vinegar, and mustard.
- Beet Smoothie: Combine 1 cooked beet (peeled and diced), 1 banana, 1 cup of unsweetened almond milk, and 1 scoop of vanilla protein powder in a blender. Blend until smooth and enjoy as a nutritious breakfast or post-workout drink.
- Beet Hummus: Combine 1 cooked beet (peeled and diced), 1 can of chickpeas (drained and rinsed), 2 cloves of garlic, 2 tablespoons of tahini, and the juice of 1 lemon in a food processor. Process the ingredients until smooth and creamy, then season the hummus with salt and paprika to taste. Serve the hummus with veggies or pita chips for dipping.
Side effects of Beets
Beets are generally considered to be safe to consume and are well tolerated by most people. However, some people may experience certain side effects after consuming beets or beet-based products. These can include:
- Digestive issues: Beets are high in fibre, which can cause digestive issues such as bloating, gas, and diarrhoea in some people. It is a good idea to introduce beets into your diet gradually to allow your body time to adjust.
- Staining: Beets can stain clothing, cutting boards, and other surfaces, so it is a good idea to handle them with caution and to use gloves or a vegetable peeler to remove the skin before cooking them.
- Allergic reactions: Some people may be allergic to beets or to other plants in the same family, such as chard, spinach, and quinoa. If you have a known allergy to these plants, it is important to avoid beets.
- Drug interactions: Beets contain compounds called oxalates, which can interfere with the absorption of certain medications, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and some antibiotics. If you are taking any medications, it is a good idea to speak with a healthcare professional before adding beets to your diet.
It is important to note that while beets have many potential health benefits, more research is needed to fully understand their effects on human health.
As with any food, beets should be consumed in moderation as part of a balanced and varied diet. If you experience any adverse effects after consuming beets, it is a good idea to speak with a healthcare professional.