by Claude Butler
Tracing the Beets roots:
Beetroot, botanically-known as Beta vulgaris, evolved from wild sea beet, the ancestor of the beet with which we are familiar today, and is thought to have originated in prehistoric times in North Africa and grew wild along Asian and European seashores.
The beetroot taste is described as sweet, earthy and tender to eat. It is grown in the ground and is related to turnips, swedes and sugar beet. Most beetroot on sale is round and deep red, but yellow, white and stripy versions are available.
Transition from Medicine to Food:
Originally, it was the beet greens that were consumed; the sweet red beet root that most people think of as a “beet” today wasn’t cultivated until the era of ancient Rome. The Roman times used beets to treat fever, constipation, wounds, skin problems – and also as an aphrodisiac. By the 19th century, however, the natural sweetness of beets came to be appreciated and beets began to be used as a source of sugar. Historical reports of Napoleon declaring that beets be used as a primary source of sugar, after the British restricted access to sugar cane, have been documented.
At that time, the roots were long and thin like a carrot. The rounded root shape that we are familiar with today was not developed until the sixteenth century and became widely popular in Central and Eastern Europe 200 years later. Many classic beetroot dishes originated in this region including the famous beetroot soup, known as borscht.
TOP 24 HEALTH WONDERS OF BEETROOT:
- For Pregnancy and Fetus- Beetroot is a good source of vitamin B folate, critical for conception, and preventing congenital disorders like spina bifida (affecting the development of spinal column) and neural tube defects in the fetus. Provides energy and reduces fatigue in pregnant mothers.
- Prevents Anemia- iron increases the production of blood in your body. And increases your HB level (hemoglobin), improves blood circulation and the oxygen-carrying capacity of erythrocytes (the red blood cells).
- Lowers Blood Pressure: Beetroot is a great source of nitrates, which when consumed, is oxidized to nitrites and nitric oxides, which widen the arteries, increases the oxygen content in blood, reduces blood pressure and with it the risk of atherosclerosis, heart attacks and strokes. Another nutrient Betaine lessens homocysteine concentration, which affects blood vessels, contributing to peripheral vascular disease, stroke and heart disease.
- Reduces ‘Bad’ Cholesterol: Beetroot contains large amounts of soluble fibers, flavanoids and a powerful antioxidant, betacyanin, which reduces the oxidation of LDL cholesterol, preventing arterial wall deposits. Beet fiber reduces cholesterol, and triglycerides, by increasing HDL (good) cholesterol and strips and expels excess LDL cholesterol from arterial walls preventing atherosclerosis, heart attacks and strokes.
- Prevents Osteoporosis: Mineral silica is critical for efficiently absorbing calcium in the body, necessary for musculo-skeletal health, and keeping osteoporosis and brittle bone diseases at bay. Other key nutrients like magnesium, vitamin C, and folate, act as vital supplements for strong bone development.
- Cures Diabetes: Beet contains natural sugars which is fat free, low in calories and has a medium glycaemic index, which means these sugars get released gradually into the blood, avoiding spikes. Helps stabilize blood sugar levels while satiating that sugar craving.
- Instant Energy Source: Oxidation of beet’s nitrate content, increases the efficiency of the mitochondria (your energy powerhouses), helps dilate the arteries, increases the efficient uptake of oxygen, and increasing vitality and energy. Beets are high in carbohydrates which means they are a great instant energy source.
- Aphrodisiac: The oxidation of nitrates, widens the blood vessels, and increases blood flow to the genitals. Another chemical compound, boron, is critical in the production of the human sex hormone, boosting libido, increasing fertility, and improving sperm mobility.
- Prevents Cancers- Betacyaninis, in beetroot juice, stops the process of cell mutations, precancerous esophageal lesions and tumors that are caused by certain harmful compounds. It also negates Heterocyclic aromatic amines (HAAs), harmful byproducts during meat and fish cooking. Beet fights breast, prostate, colon, liver, blood diseases and leukemia.
- Cures Constipation: Its high soluble fiber content cleanses the colon, regularizes bowel movements, helps digestion of fatty food, and also stimulates the nerves in the intestine. Betaine raises the levels of stomach acid, providing relief to patients of hypochlorhydria (low stomach acid).
- For Brain Health: Nitrate oxidation increases the oxygen uptake by the brain, helps in the better transmission of neural impulses and beats the onset of dementia. Studies suggest folic acid can help protect against Alzheimer’s and dementia.
- Prevents Respiratory Problems: Vitamin C, besides it stellar role of free radical busting antioxidant, stimulates the activity of white blood cells, body’s main line of defense against viral, bacterial, fungal, and protozoan toxins. Vitamin C’s range goes from fighting the sniffles to reducing the chances of cancer, to prevent asthma symptoms. The natural beta carotene in beetroot also helps to prevent lung cancer.
- Eye Care: Beta-carotene, a form of vitamin A, prevents age-related macular degeneration (ARMD) and cataracts.
- Capillary Support: The flavonoids and vitamin-C in beets help to support the structure of capillaries.
- For Healthy Liver: The beta cyanin in beetroot can help detox your liver, preventing oxidative stress, while protecting the liver cell’s DNA, eliminating toxins and potentially preventing the build-up of fatty deposits, caused by alcohol abuse, and protein deficiency. It also protects the liver and bile ducts, thereby improving liver, kidney and bladder functioning and overall health.
- Anti-Inflammatory: Beetroot juice is helpful in fighting any inflammatory diseases, which are one of the main causes of premature aging, and age related diseases.
- For Hair: Carotenoids increase the quality, thickness and glossiness of hair, and prevent dandruff, by increasing blood circulation and nourishing the hair follicles.
- Radiation Protection: Concentrates of dietary fibers (CDF) in beetroot (containing lignin) are a very effective agent for radiation protection and radiation poisoning.
- For Weight Management: Beet’s high fiber content, low calories content, and soluble fibers, help cleanse the toxic and excess water and fat from the body. Beets, which have zero trans fat, and zero saturated fat, help spike the metabolic rate in obese and overweight patients.
- Stress Buster: Magnesium contained in the juice can also help to ease muscle tension, stress and anxiety. While Betaine enhances production of the body’s natural mood-lifter seratonin, trytophan relaxes the mind and creates a sense of well-being, similar to chocolate.
- Anti-Aging: Contains extremely active antioxidants and phenolic compounds, which help prevent cell and DNA degeneration, by eliminating damaging and aging free radicals.
- Curative Plant: Leaves of raw beet have been known to counter “garlic” breath and as binding for healing wounds. Beets have been shown to help cleanse the blood and colon, strengthen the gall bladder and liver, and cure boils, abscesses and even acne.
- Nutrient Store: contains magnesium, phosphorus, sodium, potassium and calcium as well as small amounts of copper, selenium, zinc, iron and manganese, in addition to carbohydrates, protein, powerful antioxidants and soluble fibre. It contains trace amounts of various amino acids (including D-amino acids [Alpha Amino Acids]) which help to build proteins and for use by the body.
- Vitamin Store: Beetroot juice provides vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, C, beta-carotene, beta-cyanine and folic acid [folate] (B9). Beets are particularly beneficial to women whom are pregnant, as the vitamin B and iron are very beneficial to new growth cells during pregnancy and replenishing iron in the woman’s body.
Reported Side Effects:
- An estimated 10-15% of all U.S. adults experience beeturia -a reddening of the urine, after consumption beets. Though this isn’t harmful in itself, it may be a possible indicator of iron metabolism disorders. Persons with iron deficiency, iron excess or known problems with the metabolism of iron are more likely to experience beeturia.
- If you get kidney stones because of too much calcium, you may be advised to cut down on oxalates in your diet. Beetroot is just one food which contains oxalates, which prevent calcium from being absorbed by your body allowing it to build up as stones in the kidney.
Still there’s enough good reason for inclusion of beetroot in your family diet plans, considering the sheer variety of its unique health-boosting nutrients that you may not be getting from one single food source. Plus they’re delicious too!