Saturday, July 5, 2014

Benefits of Beets

Acquiring a taste for beets demands a love of strong flavor and dense texture. Red, yellow, or white varieties might appear at your local farmers market or grocery store  pro­viding a variety of nutrients and health benefits.
This super food has been the focus of recent studies claim­ing increased blood flow, lower blood pressure, and in­creased athletic performance. Low in fat and less than 40 calories per 1/2 cup, beets are an excellent addition to your diet.
The root contains a good source of folate, vitamin C, vita­min A, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, B6, pantothenic acid, iron, manganese, copper, potassium, and magnesium.
The root also contains a unique phytonutrient called beta­lains which provides the deep red color. This pigment is different from those found in other red foods such as red wine or tomatoes, offering different health benefits to the body. Betalains has been shown to provide detoxifying, anti inflammatory, and antioxidant effects on the body.
The green leafy top portion is also edible supplying a great source of vitamin C, carotenoids, flavonoids, anti­oxidants, and vitamin A.  Consuming foods high in fla­vonoids and antioxidants can help protect against cancer and may also help prevent heart disease. The greens are usually served boiled or steamed providing a taste and tex­ture similar to spinach.
The heart healthy benefits and lower blood pressure claims are possibly linked to beets being high in nitrates. The body converts nitrates into nitric oxide which helps dilate blood vessels and improve blood flow. One study showed people who drank 1 glass of beet juice lowered their systolic blood pressure by 4-5 points within 6 hours. The results of 1 study is certainly not enough evidence to use beets as a treatment for high blood pressure, however it does reinforce the healthy impact beets can have on a balanced diet rich in fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein.  
Roasted Beet Wedges Recipe
6 Large beets
1 Tbs olive oil
Salt and pepper
Fresh minced dill
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Wash beets and trim off green stems.
Place whole beets in a roasting pan and drizzle with olive oil. Roast 50 minutes or until fork tender. Allow to cool slightly.
While wearing plastic gloves to avoid staining hands gently rub the skin off each beet. Slice into thin wedges and place into a medium bowl. Toss with olive oil and dill. Serve warm or chilled. Enjoy!

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