Beets are root vegetables grown beneath the soil. They are consumed raw, pickled, juiced, roasted, or steamed. Like any vegetable, beets lose some of their nutrient potency when they’re cooked, especially for long periods of time. Beets are known for their low calorie yet high sugar content. Don’t let the high sugar content scare you. For instance, sugar that comes from a piece of candy spikes our blood sugar level almost instantly. The sugar contained in a beet is released gradually into our bloodstream, which makes it an ideal source of energy for athletes who train or compete for several hours during the day.
Beets contain tryptophan, which provides us with a feeling of relaxation and ease similar to what we experience after eating chocolate. Some individuals that suffer from depression consume beets as a natural remedy to enhance their mood.
Studies have shown that the high levels of antioxidants in beets help to prevent various forms of cancers. Their ability to cleanse the liver and purify our blood helps our immune system fight illnesses by neutralizing toxins, which are later excreted through the urine.
Beets are also high in natural nitrates, which turn into nitric oxide as they travel through our bodies. Nitric oxide increases our blood oxygen level by widening the diameter of our blood vessels, which lowers blood pressure and enhance energy supply. This puts beets at the top of my super food list for athletes looking to increase endurance and stamina.
Like most vegetables, beets are high in fiber. Dietary fiber intake is important for our digestive and cardiovascular health. Most of us don’t consume the recommended 25 grams of fiber per day. Eating more vegetables like beets will definitely help us reach our goal.
Give Beets a Try
If you’re new to the world of beets, start by blending them fresh into a juice or smoothie with fruits like mango, orange, and pineapple. This will help your taste buds get acclimated to their unique taste. Also, beets are digested more easily when they’re blended into a liquid. If you’re feeling adventurous dive right into a fresh beet after it’s been roasted or steamed and maximize on their incredible array of nutritional benefits.
Helen Agresti is a Registered Dietitian with Professional Nutrition Consulting, LLC. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and 5 children. For more Nutrition advice and healthy recipes follow her on twitter @HelenAgresti. For more information and beet recipes, go to www.pronutritionconsulting.com.