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Nutrition You Can’t Beet

beet half

It isn’t just the bright color of beets that make them stand out – they are the cream of the crop when it comes to nutrition. And lucky for you, they are in season! These root veggies most likely originated way back in prehistoric times in Northern Africa, where humans only ate the greens. It was the ancient Romans who first realized that the bulbous root was edible as well. These days we appreciate both parts of the beet – and all of their cooking possibilities too. We know beets may bring back some traumatic “eat three-bites of your vegetables” childhood memories, but we’re pretty sure you’ll change your mind after you read about all the health benefits they have to offer!

Beets are packed with nutrients that help your body fend off heart disease, respiratory illness and certain cancers. Since they are full of good carbohydrates that the body will use as fuel, they act as a great source of energy without the negative side effect associated with processed foods. Beets contain potassium, magnesium, phosphorous, iron, fiber and vitamins A, B and C. Vitamin B and iron are particularly beneficial for pregnant women, as they assist in stimulating new cell growth and help prevent birth defects. Beet juice gives the liver a boost, helping it filter toxins out of your body. The vitamin A in beets prevents age-related vision problems like cataracts. Notice that vibrant hue? A beet’s color is hard to ignore, but it isn’t just for show – it has a lot to do with their health benefits! The red-violet color comes from pigments called betalains. These pigments give beets their powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory qualities and also help to detoxify blood by helping cells isolate toxins to remove them as waste.

Beets have a long list of cooking possibilities that you can test out to figure out your perfect beet palate. They are delicious in soups, salads, and even desserts. You can also roast them or pickle them, but the best way to retain as many nutrients as possible is to lightly steam them for 15 minutes. When doing so, cut them into quarters and leave the skin on – it helps prevent the nutritious juices from escaping during the cooking process. While beets are popular enough to be widely available year-round, they are at their best when in season, which is from June to October.

- Emma Stratigos

 

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