This crimson beauty features almost daily in Dad’s morning juice and I now understand why. Beetroots are packed with an incredible amount of vitamins and minerals and they are a great source of energy. They’re very low in fat and have no cholesterol. They’re also high in sugar, but the good, natural, slow-releasing sugar. Your body (and brain) needs sugar to function – it’s just got to be the right kind of sugar, the kind that won’t give you a sugar spike, like refined sugar does. If you’re eating the right kind of sugars you’ll have steadier blood sugar levels and more sustained energy.
Beets are root vegetables and belong to the chenopod family (along with chard, spinach and quinoa), which provides health benefits not readily available from other food families. The vibrant red colour of beets is thanks to a group of phytonutrients called betalains. Betalains are powerful antioxidants that neutralise free radicals, protect and repair DNA and prevent tumour growth. The antioxidant nature of betalains is said to be even more powerful than beta-carotene (the orange-yellow pigment found in carrots and sweet potato), which is saying a lot! Betalains, along with that other vital antioxidant and immune-booster, vitamin C, make beets a powerful free radical fighter.
Betalains are also anti-inflammatory and have detoxifying agents which help purify your blood and liver. Packed with fibre, beets clean your digestive system and keep you regular. Drinking beet juice can lower your blood pressure in a matter of hours because it’s filled with nitrates, which become nitric oxide in your body, which then relaxes your blood vessels improving blood flow.
High in essential minerals potassium (for healthy nerve and muscle function), magnesium (good for your bones, liver, kidneys and pancreas), phosphorus and iron, its credentials keep adding up. Beets also contain the B vitamin, folate, which helps reduce the risk of birth defects.
The beet’s leaves are heaving with beta-carotene, the amazing antioxidant which has also been shown to be helpful in protecting against cancer.
Try not to cook beets for more than 15 minutes as this strips them of their nutritional value, so, as usual, steaming or raw is best. Beets are a wonderful, tasty and important addition to your diet.