Did you know that nearly half the refined sugar of the world comes from beets? With all that sugar – more than any other vegetable, in fact – you would think beets weren’t good for you, but you would be wrong.
The truth is that beets and their leaves are bone strengtheners, cancer fighters, heart disease blockers and weight loss aids.
Beets contain trace amounts of vitamin A, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, panthothenic acid, vitamin B6, iron and zinc. They have a good supply of potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, vitamin C, water, protein, dietary fiber – and lots of natural sugar.
Taste and Flavor
The first time I was given beets – these maroon-colored, little root slices – it was the smell that threw me off. To me they smell like they definitely come from the ground; frankly, they smell like dirt. I wasn’t sure I should go any further and risk tasting them if the smell was that uninviting, but I proceeded anyway. The taste was kind of bland at first and they even tasted slightly like dirt or at least the smell of dirt – if that makes any sense.
That was my first impression. Later down the road, I tried them again with a sprinkle of salt on them for flavor, and they tasted much better. Then I started slicing them up and topping my salads with them, and the love affair began. Now, salads aren’t complete until I have beets added. It’s amazing to me how our tastes change with age. The flavor of beets grew on me, but I had no idea at first what the health benefits of eating beets are.
What’s So Great About Beets?
Bone Strengthener – Beet roots contain potassium, beta carotene and magnesium, all of which are bone strengtheners. That means anyone who wants to avoid or suffers from osteoporosis should include foods rich in these types of nutrients like beets in their diets. For the same benefit, gymnasts, fitness trainers, those recovering from bone fractures, and the elderly who may be prone to fractures should eat more beets as well.
Cancer Fighter – The folate and beta carotene in beets also ward off certain cancers, particularly cancer of the breast, lung and prostate. Women who are moderate alcohol drinkers may be more likely to develop breast cancer, but greatly increasing folate intake can lower the risk.
Alcohol and folate are usually at odds, and folate is very much recommended for women to keep hormones functioning well and protect from neurological growth and development issues in pregnancy. Therefore, either alcohol should be eliminated or folate intake increased to protect against cancer invasions.
Heart Disease Blocker – Folate in beets also keep homocysteine levels down. This chemical is produced naturally during the metabolic process, but it can wreak havoc on your arteries, increasing your chances for heart attacks and strokes. High levels of potassium in beets regulate blood pressure as well, so your heart is healthier and doesn’t have to work as hard.
Weight Loss Aid – Beets are very low in calories, but high in fiber. As a result, eating more of them gives you a full feeling longer, assists in the elimination of waste from the body, and keeps weight to a minimum (since fewer calories equals less weight).