Have you ever eaten beet? How do you like it? Maybe for most people beet has never been their favorite food. However, though beet may not be the most delicious food you ever taste, this vegetable actually very good for your health. Even the astronauts on Apollo 18 serves it to their Russian comrades.
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Beet, which is also known as beetroot or table beet is a part of chenopod family. Maybe you already heard about chenopod before. Some other superfood like quinoa and spinach are also part of chenopod family. It seems like the amazing health benefit properties comes from the genes.
Red and yellow beta lain pigments and carotenoids can be found in the chenopod family. Also, there’s a specific connection between these phytonutrients and nervous system health. All of those things make chenopod family a perfect food to eat.
Beet contains a beta lain which is a rare source of phytonutrients. Two form of beta lain are betanin and vulgaxanthin which both provide anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and detoxification support. Other than beet, other food that also contains beta lain are chard, rhubarb, amaranth, and nopal cactus.
The History of Beet
Beet has a long history. Wild beet the first kind of beet was originated in North Africa. Beet was hanging in the Garden of Babylon while the ancient Romans use this vegetable as aphrodisiac. Probably, the reason is because beet contains a high amount of boron which is related to the production of sex hormones and can help menopausal women regain their sex drive.
Beetroot was also used for medicinal purpose during the middle ages. This special food was used to solve the problem related to digestion or illness of the blood. There’s no documentation that state if people were actually get their illness cured. What we know for sure is that they all get some important minerals and vitamins supply through this special food.
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The popularity of beet was also supported by Napoleon when he sent out decree saying that beet would be the main source of sugar when access to sugar cane was restricted.
The Benefits of Beets for Your Health
Beet is considered as superfood due to its plethora minerals and vitamins. Beet is rich in magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, fiber, iron, vitamins A, B, and C, beta-carotene, beta-cyaninn, and folic acid. Beet can help pregnant woman form new growth cells because it is rich in vitamin B. Besides, all the nutrients in beet can also prevent stomach, colon, lung, nerve, breast, prostate, and testicular cancer.
Beet fiber contains pectin polysaccharide which can help in digestive tract and cardiovascular system compare to fiber that does not contain the substance. Recently, research has also been focused on this particular to find out why it can be very beneficial to our body.
Beet can also help in detoxification process. It helps in n “phase 2 detoxification”, our cells connect with unwanted and activated toxic substance with smaller nutrients groups. The toxins will be neutralized in this process so they will become water soluble and can be excreted though the urine.
People who love to eat beet might have a small issue when eating too much beet which called beeturia. This is a condition when your urine turn into a reddish/pinkish color due to beta lain pigment. However, you need to know that it only happen when your body have problem in metabolizing iron. So if you notice your urine turning color after eating beet, you better consult to your doctor.
Give it up for beet juice
Recently, there’s a finding that shows the connection between beet juice and athleticism. Beet juice contain a lot of nitrates which will be used by the body to produce nitrite and nitric oxide. Both of them can expand blood vessels and protect them from injury which can increase endurance and muscle power.
One study which was conducted recently showed that drinking beet juice can drop the need to oxygen by 19 percent and increase exercise endurance by 17 percent. Meanwhile, another study which was published in the 2011 Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise journal showed that cyclist can reduce the times of doing four kilometer by 11 second and 45 seconds for the 16, 1 kilometer by drinking beet juice. Further research are need for a more complete information in this area, but we can take the current information as beet juice could be the next big thing for athletes.
Beautifully red, beautifully sweet
Beets has a bit unusual appearance. It has green leaves that are connected to an oblong/round part, the beet. Most beets are in red/purple color, but there are also other colors from like yellow and white and sometimes even rainbow colored roots. The reddish pigment cause by the beta lain mentioned above, which is pretty rate. Other red vegetables like red cabbage get their red color from anthocyanin.
Beet is actually sweet because it has high content of sugar. Beetroot has a crunchy texture when it is raw, but once cooked, it will be softer and buttery. Beet leaves are also edible, has a bitter taste and is similar to chard.
How to Prepare Your Beet
Beet is in season from June to October. To get a good beets, chose those that are small to medium size with firm roots, deep color, and smooth skin. The smaller and smoother your beet, the less chance you have to peel them after cooking
You need to treat your beet as a delicate vegetable because though it looks tough, beet actually sensitive and bleed easily. Betalain chemical inside beet is quite sensitive, so you need to ensure that your beet is steamed maximum 15 minutes and roasted under an hour.
Beet is very sensitive to oxidation. So don’t’ wash your beets before storing. It should be kept in a plastic bag with most air out. You can keep beets up to three weeks in your refrigerator. You can also freeze them, but you need to cook them first since raw beets will become too soft and no longer appealing after thawing.
In the past, people used to eat beet leaves instead of the root. But since it has been discover that th root are also edible, both are used for various recipes. Beet leaves can be prepared the same way as Swiss chard or spinach. People in Eastern Europe use beet as the main ingredient in borscht, but it can also be eaten raw, cooked, or pickled.
You can grate your beets and add them to soups or salads. Some other way to prepare your beets are by boiling, roasting, grilling, pickling, or marinating the, with extra virgin olive oil, fresh lemon juice, and herbs.