Rachel Turi, RD
The Beauty of Beets
Beets are a hearty, nutrient-dense root vegetable. Picked up at your local farmers market or grocery store, or even found in powder or juice form, try incorporating beets into your diet to provide both a flavorful, colorful, and nutritional boost!
But what nutritional and performance enhancing boost do the beets really provide to the body? Well, there are multiple benefits to our health from consuming beets as a part of our diet. Beets are full of phytonutrients, fiber, luteine, folate, potassium, calcium, and many more essential vitamins and minerals. Not to mention, they have many antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Each one of these nutrients has been shown to help prevent diseases and promote health and sports performance in unique ways. Beets have also been shown to be beneficial specifically for runner and endurance athletes alike. Beets are loaded with nitrites which are known for aiding in vasodilation. This eases blood flow, allowing more oxygen to get to the muscles and throughout the body. So what does that mean for your performance? Well, it allows your muscles to work more efficiently and powerfully for a longer length of time. Who doesn’t want that?!
Beets have two parts to them, the actual beet itself, and then the greens. When you cut the greens off of the beets prior to cooking, don’t toss them out! The greens can be used as a nutritional boost in stir fries, sautés, and salads. The beets themselves can be eaten raw or cooked, adding an abundance of possibilities for their use. Raw, you can try chopping or shredding them for salads. For a healthy alternative to potato chips, try slicing beets thin, brushing with olive oil, and sprinkling with salt. Then bake in the oven until crispy! The most popular way to eat beets is cooked. They can be steamed, boiled or roasted for a warm, comforting dish.
Beets can be utilized for their aesthetic properties in addition to their nutritional properties! The natural red dye of beets can be used as coloring in sauces, jams, jellies, (and eggs in the springtime). This allows you to add a pleasing splash of color without the artificial coloring and sweeteners of other dyes.
So, give beets a try and see what they can do for your performance and overall health!