It was brought to my attention that I neglected to include any information in yesterday’s post about the health benefits of beets. This is too important to let slide so here they are:
Beets actually have the highest sugar content of all vegetables, which is one reason they make such a good choice for homemade baby food. Babies will be drawn to the sweetness and the bright colors.
Beets are very high in folate, magnesium, potassium, fiber and vitamin C.
As many of you mothers know, folate is a very important nutrient during pregnancy. 1 cup of boiled beets provide about a third of your daily recommended folate intake. Folate helps ensure normal tissue growth for your baby, and is required for spinal column development.
The magnesium in beets helps increase calcium absorption, which is important for prevention of osteoporosis. I think I’ve mentioned before that without proper levels of magnesium, calcium is not absorbed and therefore you do not get the health benefits associated with it. Many people eat plenty of calcium but not enough magnesium, so still suffer from calcium deficiency.
The vitamin C in beets is beneficial in many ways, including the prevention and treatment of asthma symptoms and supporting healthy structure of capillaries.
Beets are known to help protect against heart disease and certain types of cancers. Like many other brightly-colored fruits and vegetables, beets contain high amounts of antioxidants. These help to eliminate toxins from the body inside the liver (the body’s primary detoxification organ). Toxin buildup is what eventually leads to cancer and other disease. Some studies have even shown that beet juice can slow down formation of tumors in the body and inhibit cell mutations in the stomach. The antioxidants are also helpful in prevention of cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Many of you have expressed interest in more information about cholesterol. Consumption of beets is associated with a lowering of cholesterol, lowering of triglyceride level and blood pressure, and increase in HDL (good) cholesterol. If you or someone in your family has high cholesterol, beets may be a good food to add to your shopping list.
Golden beets have a milder taste than red beets, but are very similar. My mom has become famous in the St. Paul area for a golden beet recipe she has perfected. Maybe, if we’re lucky, she’ll share it with us soon! Another great golden beet recipe, which even Ed, the beet-hater, liked, is just a simple salad consisting of any type of greens, roasted or boiled golden beets, goat cheese (the more the better), all topped with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of herbs.
Beets detoxify the blood and renew it with minerals and natural sugars. This may be why beets were traditionally used to treat fevers. Beets are also good home remedies for constipation and digestive disorders, and beet greens are sometimes used on wounds to aid in healing.
Speaking of beet greens…
The beet greens contain high amounts of iron, calcium, vitamin A and vitamin C. Only eat them if they look healthy. They will keep for 4-5 days in your fridge in a plastic bag. Use them as you would any other type of greens. This morning, I put them into my smoothie along with avocado, banana, flax meal, tofu and kefir.
About 30% of our sugar today comes from sugar beets (the other 70% from cane). Beets are harvested, the sugar is diffused out of the vegetable, and goes through a refining and crystallization process to turn it into sugar.
Daniel lives in St. Louis, and brought to may attention an alternative use for beets. Apparently, the Gateway to the West has been receiving some snow lately, and the salt they are using to de-ice the roads is not working. They have tried adding beet juice to the salt, and have seen some success. They are using a byproduct of the extraction of sugar from sugar beets, which is a thick, syrupy molasses. This sticky substance helps keep salt confined to the roads for longer time periods, resulting in more melting of the ice. It’s a rather new technique that is mainly used in the Midwest. So to all my St. Louis readers, I’d watch out for sticky shoes, boots and pant hems if I were you!