Eat Your Veggies!

August 19th, 2012

Health benefits of beets

  • Garden beet is very low in calories (contain only 45 kcal/100 g), and contain only small amount of fat. Its nutrition benefits come particularly from fiber, vitamins, minerals, and unique plant derived anti-oxidants.
  • The root is rich source of phytochemical compound Glycine betaine. Betaine has the property of lowering homocysteine levels in the blood. Homocysteine, one of highly toxic metabolite, promotes platelet clot as well as atherosclerotic-plaque formation, which is otherwise can be harmful to blood vessels. High levels of homocystiene in the blood results in the development of coronary heart disease (CHD), stroke and peripheral vascular diseases.
  • Raw beets are an excellent source of folates; contains about 109 mcg/100 g (Provides 27% of RDA). However, extensive cooking may significantly depletes its level in food. Folates are necessary for DNA synthesis in the cells. When given during peri-conception period folates can prevent neural tube defects in the baby.
  • It contains significant amounts of vitamin-C, one of the powerful natural antioxidant, which helps body scavenge deleterious free radicals one of the reasons for cancers development.
  • Beet greens (tops) are an excellent source of carotenoids, flavonoid anti-oxidants, and vitamin A; contain these compounds several times more than that of in the roots.Vitamin A is required maintaining healthy mucus membranes and skin and is essential for vision. Consumption of natural vegetables rich in flavonoids helps to protect from lung and oral cavity cancers.
  • The root is also rich source of niacin (vit.B-3), pantothenic acid (vit.B-5), pyridoxine (vit.B-6) and carotenoids, and minerals such as iron, manganese, and magnesium.
  • In addition, the root indeed has very good levels of potassium. 100 g fresh root has 325 mg of potassium or 7% of daily requirements. Potassium lowers heart rate and regulates metabolism inside the cells by countering detrimental effects of sodium.

    Selection and storage

    In the store, choose fresh, bright, firm textured beets with rich flavor. Avoid those with slump looking or soft in consistency.
    Whenever possible, go for organic to get maximum health benefits.
    In the stores, oftentimes the roots with intact tops put for sale. If you are buying whole vegetable, severe top greens from the root as they rob moisture and nutrition from the roots.
    Beet greens, like other greens, should be washed thoroughly before use in clean running water and rinsed in saline water for about 30 minutes in order to remove soil, dirt, and any insecticide residues.
    Top greens should be used while they are fresh. Beetroot, however, can be kept in the refrigerator set at high relative humidity for few weeks.

    See the table below for in depth analysis of nutrients:

    Beets (Beta vulgaris), fresh, raw, Nutrition value per 100 g (Source: USDA National Nutrient data base)

    Principle Nutrient value Percentage of RDA
    Energy 45 cal 2%
    Carbohydrates 9.56 g 7%
    Protein 1.61 g 1%
    Total Fat 0.17 g 0.5%
    Cholesterol 0 mg 0%
    Dietary Fiber 2.80 g 7%
    Folates 109 µg 27%
    Niacin 0.334 mg 2%
    Pantothenic acid 0.155 mg 3%
    Pyridoxine 0.067 mg 5%
    Riboflavin 0.057 mg 4%
    Thiamin 0.031 mg 2.5%
    Vitamin A 33 IU 1%
    Vitamin C 4.9 mg 8%
    Vitamin E 0.04 mg 0.5%
    Vitamin K 0.2 µg 0%
    Sodium 78 mg 5%
    Potassium 325 mg 7%
    Calcium 16 mg 1.5%
    Copper 0.075 mg 8%
    Iron 0.80 mg 10%
    Magnesium 23 mg 6%
    Manganese 0.329 mg 14%
    Zinc 0.35 mg 3%
    Carotene-ß 20 µg
    Betaine 128.7 mg
    Lutein-zeaxanthin 0 µg
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