Russian centenarians traditionally consumed beets and were protected from cancer (colon cancer primarily), birth defects, heart disease, eye health, nerve health and liver toxicity. Beets have a mix of anti-oxidants: two anti-oxidant carotenoids are lutein and zeaxanthin; vitamin C; and manganese. This combination provides anti-inflammatory benefits and may thus, help alleviate symptoms of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
There are enough sites listing the nutrient list of beets. I can emphatically add my support about adding beets to your diet. It is a root vegetable and is a ‘must have’ in your winter menu. It is not really too difficult to cook, once you are determined to add it to your diet. It’s looks forbidding! The tough skin. I simply peel it. However, others recommend that you keep it for it’s added benefits. Once I ate the steamed, cooked red interior, in a spiced mixture with onion, garlic and ginger and rolled inside white bread and fried to a golden brown color, there was no turning back for me. Beets became the best health food for me and it looked just like ‘junk food’ when presented as a fried roll. That is precisely how the Bengalis of India present it to you on major occasions. They give you healthy food during feasts and disguise it as unhealthy so that you feel special. Go figure! It is an ancient culture so there is no knowing when they figured out that people prefer to eat ‘junk food’ so that is the only way to serve good food. The Bengalis fry everything and they have centenarians in every village.
Maybe, the Russians and the Bengalis know something about how to eat their beets – make the dish colorful and irresistible. The beets are so sweet. They are delicious! Once I had it in a side dish I was smitten! My dish had steamed, sliced yam, potatoes and beets. I found myself making the few beet slices last longer to lengthen the pleasure of that special, sweet taste. What a dish! We felt healthier last winter when we had beets once a week. Cannot remember getting sick last winter. This winter, is the coldest in several decades. Bring on the beets! I am hoping that you will check to see if I am a centenarian, surviving happily to write about my life and eating beets. At least, I hope I will be happy to be a centenarian, because I love eating beets.
A side effect is red colored urine, which is a reflection of your iron load (too high or too low). I would continue eating beets and ignore that. Also, the high manganese content in beets may be an issue with those having manganese intolerance, but can be taken in moderation for the other benefits that beets provide.
If you want to detoxify then beets must be in your diet. Health food stores, family farms and Farmer’s markets sell beets. Beet is the common name for Beta vulgaris which produces about 30% of the world’s sugar. The edible portions include the fleshy root and the gorgeous, green leaves. An older lady whom I met at Whole Foods advised me how to eat the leaves. She said wash the leaves, sprinkle with salt and pepper (I add red chilly flakes), drizzle with olive oil lightly, and simply toast lightly. Watch to avoid burning (fire !) and viola! A fabulous snack and it hits the taste buds in unimaginable regions. Detoxify while you munch and start saving and adding to your retirement portfolio. If you eat beets and live to be a centenarian, you will need your money to buy beets to continue to live healthy.
You may want to check out the sites, Beet – New World Encyclopedia and WHFoods: Beets for beet nutrients, history, and recipes. Some more recipes are:
Chewy beet leaves with sweet beets in Beets and Green – a foodie;
A Polish Beet Salad – see if you can avoid draining the beautiful, red water you boil the [cleaned] beets in;
Roasted (and candied) beets by the food blog “The Partial Ingredients”.
Please, let me know if you tried any of the recipes I suggested and feel healthier each day. I would love to hear from you!