Beets are becoming increasingly popular as gourmet chefs & top restaurants incorporate them into menus for their earthy sweetness, beautiful colors, and high nutrient content. Though beets have the highest sugar content of any vegetable, they are low in calories, high in fiber and rich in folic acid, magnesium and potassium. Their greens are incredibly nutritious as well, containing double the potassium, folic acid, calcium and iron as compared to the root.
- Antioxidant Benefits – Beets are incredibly rich in antioxidants and contain an unusual mix as compared to other vegetables. They contain a powerful combination of beta-carotene, Vitamin C, and anthocyanins, which give them their bright red color.
- Anti-Inflammatory Benefits – Beets contain a wide range of unique phytonutrients, which have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties. More specifically, the phyonutrients betanin, isobetanin, and vulgaxanthin appear to inhibit COX enzymes, which are involved in triggering inflammation.
- Support Detoxification – The betalin pigments in beets support the body’s detoxification processes. It seems that they assist cells in expelling unwanted toxic substances.
- Anti-Cancer Benefits – By providing abundant antioxidants and suppressing inflammation, beets may reduce one’s risk for many different cancer types. Studies have been promising for beet’s impact on the development of colon, stomach, nerve, lung, breast, prostate and testicular cancers.
- Fiber Benefits – Beets contain two types of dietary fiber, which may decrease one risk of colon cancer and promote cardiovascular health.
Ready to give beets a try?
When perusing your local farmers market, you may find that they offer golden, white and striped beets, in addition to the more common red variety. They are all delicious, nutrient dense, and a great addition to diet. Try mixing the different colors of beets for a visually stunning dish.
Select bunches of beets that are uniform in size (so that they require the same cooking time) with hearty greens attached at the top. Use the nutrient packed greens in three to four days, and keep the beet tops refrigerated for up to a month.
Below is a simple, yet very flavorful recipe from Martha Stewart for Marinated Beet Salad.
Marinated Beet Salad
- 5 medium beets (about 1 pound without greens), ends trimmed, halved
- 1 clove garlic, smashed
- 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Coarse salt and ground pepper
- 1/4 cup fresh mint, coarsely chopped
- 1/4 cup goat cheese, crumbled
Set a steamer basket in a large saucepan with a lid. Fill with enough water to come just below basket; bring to a boil. Place beets in steamer basket, cover pot, and reduce water to a gentle simmer. Steam until beets are tender, 30 to 35 minutes. When cool enough to handle, grab beets with a paper towel and slip off skins. Cut the beets into thin slices.
In a medium bowl combine sliced beets, garlic, vinegar, and oil; season with salt and pepper and toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate several hours or overnight. Remove and discard garlic. Serve beets topped with mint and goat cheese.
Assistance provided by Allison van Camp