Beets are one of those overlooked vegetables and I am always suggesting to my clients to make them a part of their meals. They are even available now
precooked at Trader Joe’s in the refrigerated section and are nice and chilled and can quickly be sliced and added to salads. You can also buy sliced or shoestring beets in cans by S&W. They are naturally sweet and low in calories. I tell clients to keep them chilled so you can always add them to a green salad. Cook the beet greens like you would cook spinach, swiss chard or even escarole.
Beets are loaded with Vitamins A, B1, B2, B6 and C . The greens have a higher iron content than spinach and are delicious when cooked. They also are an excellent source of calcium, magnesium, copper and phosphorus and iron.
Beets interestingly, originated in prehistoric times in North Africa and grew wild along Asian and European seashores. In these earlier times people ate the beet
greens and not the roots. The ancient Romans cultivated the beet to use the root as food. The tribes that invaded Rome were responsible for spreading beets
throughout northern Europe where they were first used for animal feed and later for human consumption.
How To Select and Store
Choose fresh beets that are small or medium sized, whose roots are firm, smooth-skinned and deep in color. Smaller, younger beets may be so tender that peeling won’t be needed after they are cooked. If you are going to consume the very nutritious beet greens, look for greens that appear fresh, tender and have a lively green color.
Cut the majority of the greens and their stems from the beet roots, so they do not pull moisture away from the root. Leave about two inches of the stem attached to prevent the roots from “bleeding”. Do not wash beets before storing.
Place in a plastic bag and wrap the bag tightly around the beets, squeezing as much of the air out as possible, and place in refrigerator where they will keep for up to three weeks. Store the unwashed greens in a separate plastic bag squeezing out the air and they will stay well in the refrigerator for a few days.
News About Beets
There have been recent lab studies on human tumor cells. Betain pigments from beets have been shown to lessen tumor cell growth through a number of mechanisms, including inhibition of pro-inflammatory enzymes.
The tumor cells tested in these studies come from colon, stomach, nerve, lung, breast and prostate tissue. While lab studies are not by themselves proof of the beets anti- cancer benefits, the results of these studies are encouraging.
In a recent study from Italy, beets were shown to be an especially important contributor of two carotenoids: lutein and zeaxanthin. Although much of the recent carotenoid research has focused on beta-carotene, both lutein and zeaxanthin are unique with respect to eye health and age related problems involving the macula and the retina.
So, I hope you will realize after the latest research that you must make a great effort to add beets to your life. Please check out my Beet Recipe posted this month.