Beets

Scientific and Common Namesbeet_merlin
Beta vulgaris
Beetroot
Beets
Garden Beets

About

[From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia] The deep red roots of beetroot are eaten either grilled, boiled, or roasted as a cooked vegetable, cold as a salad after cooking and adding oil and vinegar, or raw and shredded, either alone or combined with any salad vegetable. A large proportion of the commercial production is processed into boiled and sterilized beets or into pickles. In Eastern Europe beet soup, such as borscht, is a popular dish. In Indian cuisine, chopped, cooked, spiced beet is a common side dish. Yellow-colored, golden beetroots are grown on a small scale for home consumption, specialty chefs and markets.

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The green, leafy portion of the beet is also edible. It is most commonly served boiled or steamed, in which case it has a taste and texture similar to spinach. Those selected should be bulbs that are unmarked, avoiding those with overly limp leaves or wrinkled skins, both of which are signs of dehydration.

Beetroot can be peeled, steamed, and then eaten warm with butter as a delicacy; cooked, pickled, and then eaten cold as a condiment; or peeled, shredded raw, and then eaten as a salad. Pickled beets are a traditional food of the American South. It is also common in Australia and New Zealand for pickled beetroot to be served on a hamburger.

A traditional Pennsylvania Dutch dish is red beet eggs. Hard-boiled eggs are refrigerated in the liquid left over from pickling beets and allowed to marinate until the eggs turn a deep pink-red color. In Poland, beet is combined with horseradish, which is often added to a meal consisting of meat, potatoes and a salad.

When beet juice is used, it is most stable in foods with a low water activity, such as frozen novelties and fruit fillings. Betanins, obtained from the roots, are used industrially as red food colorants e.g. to intensify the color of tomato paste, sauces, desserts, jams and jellies, ice cream, sweets and breakfast cereals.

Beet pulp is fed to horses that are in vigorous training or conditioning and to those that may be allergic to dust from hay. Beetroot can also be used to make wine. Beetroot juice has been found to improve performance in athletes, possibly because of its abundance of nitrates.

Beetroot is a rich source of potent antioxidants and nutrients, including magnesium, sodium, potassium and vitamin C., and betaine, which functions by acting with other nutrients to reduce the concentration of homocysteine, a homologue of the naturally occurring amino acid cysteine, which has been suggested to be harmful to blood vessels and thus contribute to the development of heart disease, stroke, and peripheral vascular disease. Betaine functions in conjunction with S-adenosylmethionine, folic acid, and vitamins B6 and B12 to carry out this function. This hypothesis is controversial – scientists don’t yet know whether homocysteine itself is harmful, or whether it is just an indicator of increased risk for heart disease. 

The red color compound betanin is not broken down in the body, and in higher concentration may temporarily cause urine (termed beeturia), and stool to assume a reddish color. This effect may cause distress and concern due to the visual similarity to hematuria (blood in the urine) or blood in the stool, but is completely harmless and will subside once the food is out of the system.

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Preventive Uses

Additionally, several preliminary studies on both rats and humans have shown betaine may protect against liver disease, particularly the buildup of fatty deposits in the liver caused by alcohol abuse, protein deficiency, or diabetes, among other causes. Studies support beets used for detoxification, beets having anti-inflammatory benefits, as well as antioxidant benefits. They are a nutritional power-house.

Beetroot juice has been shown to lower blood pressure and thus help prevent cardiovascular problems. Contrary to the popular belief beetroot does not possess any “blood cleansing” properties, but is a good source of antioxidants. Research published in the American Heart Association journal Hypertension showed that drinking 500 ml of beetroot juice led to a reduction in blood pressure within one hour. The reduction was more pronounced after three to four hours, and was measurable up to 24 hours after drinking the juice. The effect is attributed to the high nitrate content of the beetroot. The study correlated high nitrate concentrations in the blood following ingestion of the beetroot juice and the drop in blood pressure. Dietary nitrate, such as that found in the beetroot, is thought to be a source for the biological messenger, nitric oxide, which is used by the endothelium to signal smooth muscle, triggering it to relax. This induces vasodilation and increased blood flow.

Other studies have found the positive effects beetroot juice can have on human exercise and performances. In studies conducted by Exeter University, scientists found cyclists who drank a half-liter of beetroot juice several hours before setting off were able to ride up to 20% longer than those who drank a placebo of blackcurrant juice.

Nutrient Information, Uses and Cooking Tips

 

Nutritional Information
Beets, raw, Nutritional value per 1 cup, 136g
Nutrient Amount % US RDA
Energy 242.672 kJ (58 kcal) N/A
Carbohydrates 13 g N/A
Sugars 9.19 g N/A
Dietary fiber 3.8 g *%
Fat 0.23 g N/A
Protein 2.19g *%
Thiamine (Vit. B1) 0.042 mg (4%)
Riboflavin (Vit. B2) * mg (*
Niacin (Vit. B3) *mg (*
Vitamin B6 .* (6%)
Folate (Vit. B9) * mcg DFE *
Vitamin C 6.7 mg (*%)
Calcium 22 mg (*%)
Iron 1.09 mg (*%)
Magnesium 31 mg (*%)
Phosphorus 54 mg (*%)
Potassium 442mg (6%)
Zinc 0.48mg (4%)

Percentages are relative to US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient database

Both beets and Swiss chard are different varieties within the same plant family (Amaranthaceae-Chenopodiaceae) and their edible leaves share a resemblance in both taste and texture. Attached to the beet’s green leaves is a round or oblong root, the part conjured up in most people’s minds by the word “beet.” Although typically a beautiful reddish-purple hue, beets also come in varieties that feature white, golden/yellow or even rainbow color roots. No matter what their color, however, beet roots aren’t as hardy as they look; the smallest bruise or puncture will cause red beets’ red-purple pigments (which contain a variety of phytonutrients including betalains and anthocyanins) to bleed, especially during cooking. Betalain pigments in beets are highly-water soluble, and they are also temperature sensitive. For both of these reasons, it is important to treat beets as a delicate food, even though they might seem solid and difficult to damage.

Beets’ sweet taste reflects their high sugar content, which makes beets an important source for the production of refined sugar (yet, the beets that are used for sugar consumption are of a different type than the beets that you purchase in the store). Raw beet roots have a crunchy texture that turns soft and buttery when they are cooked. Beet leaves have a lively, bitter taste similar to chard. The main ingredient in the traditional eastern European soup, borscht, beets are delicious eaten raw, but are more typically cooked or pickled.

The greens attached to the beet roots are delicious and can be prepared like spinach or Swiss chard. They are incredibly rich in nutrients, concentrated in vitamins and minerals as well as carotenoids such as beta-carotene and lutein/zeaxanthin.

Cook beets lightly, such as a quick steaming. Studies show beets’ concentration of phytonutrients, such as betalains, is diminished by lengthy heat. I recommend  steaming beets for 15 minutes to maximize their nutrition and flavor. Fill the bottom of the steamer with 2 inches of water and bring to a rapid boil Add beets, cover, and steam for 15 minutes. Beets are cooked when you can easily insert a fork or the tip or knife into the beet. Simply grate raw beets for a delicious and colorful addition to salads or decorative garnish for soups.  Boil beet greens for 1 minute for a great tasting side dish, which is very similar to Swiss chard. Marinate steamed beets, or your boiled, wilted greens in fresh lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, and fresh herbs. Eat your Beets!

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Recipes

Easy Refrigerator Pickled Beets

Beet Greens and Beets with Balsamic Vinaigrette from Eat Greens

  • 1-2 bunches beets with greens
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 6 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • Sea Salt and freshly ground pepper
  1. Cut the beet greens from the beets, discarding any wilted or dry greens, and trim the stems. Rinse, dry, and set the greens aside.
  2. Peel and quarter winter beets. Just wash and quarter spring/summer beets; then cut them into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Put them in a steamer over boiling water, cover and cook over medium-high heat until just tender, 15 minutes.
  3. Heat the vegetable oil in a skillet over med-high heat. Saute’ the beet greens until wilted, about 3 minutes. Put them in a serving dish, set aside, keep warm.
  4. Whisk the vinegar and lemon juice together in a small bowl. Whisk in the olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  5. To serve, spoon the warm steamed beets over the beet greens. Drizzle with the vinaigrette and serve at once.

 

Roasted Beets with Oranges and Basil Vinaigrette from Vegetarian Planet.

  • 3 medium or 2 large beets, cut into eighths
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 seedless orange
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons chopped basil, and some whole leaves for garnish
  1. Preheat oven to 400. Place the beets on a roasting pan and dribble 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over them. Season the beets with salt and pepper. Bake them 35-40 minutes, or until they are tender when pierced with a sharp knife. Remove from oven and let them cool for 10 minutes.
  2. While the beets cool, grate the rind from the orange and, with a paring knife, section the orange: first cut away the peel and pith, then cut out the flesh by sections, leaving the membranes.
  3. In a bowl, combine the grated orange rind, the balsamic vinegar and the basil. Whisking constantly, drizzle in the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add salt and pepper. Place the beet and orange pieces on a large plate and spoon the vinaigrette over. Serve salad when beets are completely cool.
 Variations: Try substituting truffle oil for the 2 tablespoons of olive oil in the vinaigrette.

 

 

 

 

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