The deets on beets

Jul 26, 2018

As a member of the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics, I’m privileged to have as colleagues some of the most accomplished Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs).

Today’s guest columnist is Jeanne Petrucci, MS, RDN who has shared this article from her weekly Test Kitchen Tuesday Blog.

Jeanne Petrucci, MS, RDN

Hi, I’m Jeanne, a registered dietitian nutritionist from New Jersey who is passionate about cultivating positive experiences around food while remaining true to my science-based approach to nutrition education.  I hold a Master of Science degree in Nutrition Education from Columbia University and founded the non-profit Living Plate as a place where other nutrition professionals join me in advancing my mission.  We help you define health on your own terms!  Let’s sift through the crowded universe of nutrition information together, understand what’s important to you, and translate that knowledge into delicious food through our digital meal plans.  Please visit our website to get to know our team, read more articles, and explore delicious recipes.  Don’t miss out on regular nutrition and culinary tips – follow us on Instagram.

The Deet on Beets

Beets have come a long way from the canned vegetable aisle, finding themselves on the plates of the finest restaurants adorned with lightly toasted nuts, goat cheese, and clingy dressings.  For some people, beets are an acquired taste – you cannot deny their earthy flavor, but if prepared in a way that intensifies their natural sugars, almost anyone can enjoy this nutrient-dense root vegetable.

We have found the biggest barrier to clients consuming this “dirt candy” in their own homes is the fear of making a mess in their kitchens.  While their deep pigment indicates some serious antioxidant content, it can make a mess – staining everything from your hands and clothes to your cutting board and countertop.

Here are several reasons why we want you to include beets in your diet and our favorite ways to prepare them in your kitchen:

Betalain:  Beets are rich in betalain, a bioactive agent which may support healthy liver function and the body’s natural detoxification process. Betalain may also help reduce inflammation associated with many chronic diseases.

Carotenoids: These powerful antioxidants have been studied for their anti-cancer activity and are found in large concentrations in the beet greens.  When purchasing beets, make sure the greens are fresh and perky to ensure highest levels. Beet greens can be added to salads or gently sautéed.

Potassium: One cup of beets provides 15% of your daily value of potassium, a mineral important to heart health and muscle contraction.  Potassium also acts as an electrolyte, helping with water balance and nerve function.

Nitric Oxide: Studies have shown that beetroot juice supplementation may improve athletic cardiorespiratory performance due to their naturally high nitrate content. Nitrates are converted to nitric oxide, which may increase blood flow, improve mitochondrial function, and strengthen muscle contraction, potentially leading to improved performance.

In the kitchen

Here’s a no mess, no fuss way to prepare roasted beets:

  • Preheat oven to 425°F
  • Trim greens and wash root
  • Wrap whole beets in foil and create a tight package
  • Roast for about 40 minutes [time will depend on size of beets] – insert sharp knife through foil to test – you want just a little resistance
  • Remove package from oven and let stand until beets are cool enough to handle
  • Using paper towels, wipe skin off beets
  • Holding each beet still with a fork, slice or chop and serve, or store refrigerated until ready to eat

Our top recipe picks:

Summer Borscht with Cucumber and Dill
Beet and Lentil Citrus Salad
Lemon Garlic Roasted Winter Vegetables

Sources:

Broihier, K., MS, RD, LD. (2017, May 22). Why Beets Deserve the Spotlight. Retrieved March 20, 2018, from https://foodandnutrition.org/november-december-2015/beets-deserve-spotlight/

Domínguez, R., Cuenca, E., Maté-Muñoz, J. L., García-Fernández, P., Serra-Paya, N., Estevan, M. C. L., … Garnacho-Castaño, M. V. (2017). Effects of Beetroot Juice Supplementation on Cardiorespiratory Endurance in Athletes. A Systematic Review. Nutrients, 9(1), 43. http://doi.org/10.3390/nu9010043

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