Beets contain unique phytonutrients known as betalains. Betalains have been shown to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and detoxification properties. While these betalain pigments are found in other foods such as Swiss chard (in the same family as beets), beets have a high concentration of betalains in their roots.
The longer the cooking time, the greater the loss of betalains, however; a steaming time of 15 minutes or less is best in order to maximize your benefits from the betalains (and keep roasting times to under an hour).
More interesting beet trivia
An estimated 10-15% of individuals experience beeturia (a reddening of the urine) after eating beets in normal amounts. Beeturia is not harmful, but it may indicate some issues with your iron levels. People with iron deficiency, iron excess, or problems with iron metabolism are more likely to experience beeturia.
Recent studies on human tumor cells found that betanin pigments from beets lessened tumor cell growth. Tumor cell types tested included tumor cells from colon, stomach, nerve, lung, breast, prostate and testicular tissue. While the lab studies by themselves are not proof of beets’ anti-cancer benefits, they did give researchers the initiative to continue studying the effects of the betalains in beets in regards possible prevention and treatment of certain types of cancers.
Peel beets (if needed – the younger ones won’t need peeling) by setting them on a cutting board and rubbing the skin off with a paper towel. You can just grate raw beets and add to your favorite salad or soup, or try the following simple recipe (Liberty Market has all the ingredients you will need for this recipe):
Raw beet salad
- 2 small beets
- 2 small carrots
- zest of an orange
- handful of raw pumpkin seeds
- juice of ½ of that orange
- 1 tbsp cider vinegar
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- pinch of salt and pepper
Coarsely grate beet and carrots. Mix together beet, carrot, pumpkin seeds and orange zest. Put the dressing ingredients in jar and shake. Pour dressing over salad and stir. Ta da! You can crumble some feta cheese over the top if you like.
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