Food in Color: Beets Edition
One of the best ways to begin eating healthier is quite simple really – just add more color to your plate. Think of all the foods with beautiful hues and you’ll probably think of an assortment of fruits and veggies. When you add a variety of colors you also add a variety of nutrients and thus nourishment for your body. This post will start a series on foods in color; highlighting one colorful food a week to add to your plate.
This week, I was preparing some beets and couldn’t help but notice the deep, beautiful red almost purple hue of them. Beets are great as a side dish and only need to be eaten in small amounts. They add a vibrant punch to your plate and boast an exceptional nutrition profile.
What’s in them:
What’s unique about them:
Beets have a high content of nitrates which in some people turns into nitric oxide in the body and has been linked to lowering blood pressure. “A 2015 study of 68 people with high blood pressure examined the effects of drinking 250 milliliters of beetroot juice every day. The researchers found that doing so significantly lowered blood pressure after ingestion” (Medical News Today).
They contain a compound called Betalain which is responsible for the deep red and orange pigment. One study performed on Betalain calls it a “food colorant with biological activity.” It has been found to have anti-inflammatory effects in the body as well as possibly preventing DNA damage and inhibiting cancer cells (Pubmed).
Some studies have also shown consumption of beet juice to increase high-intensity endurance exercise. “Beetroot juice given as a single dose or over a few days may improve performance at intermittent, high intensity efforts with short rest periods… In addition, beetroot juice supplementation could improve muscle power output via a mechanism involving a faster muscle shortening velocity” (Biomedcentral)
How to eat them:
Beets are easy to prepare and can be eaten boiled or roasted. Add ¼ cup of beets to your plate and you’ve easily added some color and nutrition to your diet.
RECIPE for boiling beets:
- Prepare the beets. If you bought the beets with the stems and greens attached, save them – they make for a delicious side recipe on their own! Cut off the stems leaving about an inch of stems on the beetroot. Rinse the beets under water to remove the dirt.
- Place the beetroots in a medium sauce pot and cover them completely with water.
- Add some salt to the pot. You may also add 1tbsp of vinegar to keep the beet color from bleeding too much.
- Bring the pot of water and beets to a boil. Then, simmer for 45-60 minutes until beets are tender and can easily be pierced with a fork or knife.
- Remove beets from water and immediately run them under cold water.
- Cut the top and bottom ends off of beets.
- Peel the outermost layer off of each beet. If they do no peel easily with your finger, you may use a small knife or peeler and gently peel off the top layer.
- Cut each beet into quarters and serve!
Store them in the refrigerator for 3-5 days in an airtight container. They go great with salads or any animal protein entrée as a side vegetable.