MoonDragon's Nutrition Information
FOOD & NUTRIENT GUIDE: VEGETABLES
Scientific Name: Beta Vulgaris
Nutrition Basics: Beets Herbal Information & Products
BEETS - A DESCRIPTION
The beet (Beta vulgaris) is a plant in the beet root family. It is best known its numerous cultivated varieties, the most well known of which is probably the red root vegetable known as the garden beet. However, other cultivated varieties include the leaf vegetables chard and spinach beet, as well as the root vegetables sugar beet, which is important in the production of table sugar, and mangelwurzel, which is a fodder crop. Three subspecies are typically recognized. All cultivated varieties fall into the subspecies Beta vulgaris subspecies vulgaris, while Beta vulgaris subspecies maritima, commonly known as the sea beet, is the wild ancestor of these and is found throughout the Mediterranean, the Atlantic coast of Europe, the Near East, and India. A second wild subspecies, Beta vulgaris subspecies adanensis, occurs from Greece to Syria.
Beta vulgaris is a herbaceous biennial or rarely perennial plant with leafy stems growing to 1 to 2 meters tall. The leaves are heart-shaped, 5 to 20 cm long on wild plants (often much larger in cultivated plants). The flowers are produced in dense spikes, each flower very small, 3 to 5 mm diameter, green or tinged reddish, with five petals; they are wind-pollinated. The fruit is a cluster of hard nutlets.
Some of the information included on this page was obtained from Wikipedia.org. For complete article and citations, visit their link.
The beet has a long history of cultivation stretching back to the second millennium BC. The plant was probably domesticated somewhere along the Mediterranean, whence it was later spread to Babylonia by the 8th century BC and as far east as China by 850 AD. Available evidence, such as that provided by Aristotle and Theophrastus suggests that the leafy varieties of the beet were grown primarily for most of its history, though these lost much of their popularity much later following the introduction of spinach. The beet became highly commercially important in 19th century Europe following the development of the sugar beet in Germany and the discovery that sucrose could be extracted from them, providing an alternative to tropical sugar cane. It remains a widely cultivated commercial crop for producing table sugar.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF BEETS
The roots and leaves of the beet have been used in folk medicine to treat a wide variety of ailments. Modern research is investigating in further detail how beet extracts could be used to protect normal and diabetic livers, as well as their effects on elevated cholesterol in individuals with cancer, and other medical maladies.
The Romans used beet-root as a treatment for fevers and constipation, amongst other ailments. Apicius in De re coquinaria gives five recipes for soups to be given as a laxative, three of which feature the root of beet. Hippocrates advocated the use of beet leaves as binding for wounds.
Beet juice can help lower blood pressure. Research published in the American Heart Association journal Hypertension showed drinking 500 ml of beetroot juice led to a reduction in blood pressure within one hour. The reduction was more pronounced after three to four hours, and was measurable up to 24 hours after drinking the juice.
Since Roman times, beet-root juice has been considered an aphrodisiac. The juice is a rich source of boron, which plays an important role in the production of human sex hormones. Field Marshal Montgomery is reputed to have exhorted his troops to "take favors in the beet-root fields", a euphemism for visiting prostitutes.
From the Middle Ages, beet-root was used as a treatment for a variety of conditions, especially illnesses relating to digestion and the blood. Platina recommended taking beet-root with garlic to nullify the effects of "garlic-breath."
BEET ROOTS FOR CANCER
Beet-root has been used as a treatment for cancer in Europe for several centuries. The pigment that gives beets their rich, purple-crimson color (betacyanin) is also a powerful cancer-fighting agent. Beets' potential effectiveness against colon cancer, in particular, has been demonstrated in several studies.
The pigment molecule betanin in the root of red beets is under investigation as the cause of the plant's purported protective effects. Hungarian oncologist Ferenczi recommended beet-root juice as an effective cancer treatment. Recent scientific research has shown that beet-root can inhibit tumor growth and has antioxidant properties that may even help prevent development of oncogenesis.
In one study, animals under the double stress of chemically induced colon cancer and high cholesterol were divided into two groups. One group received a diet high in beet fiber while the other group served as a control. The beet fiber-fed animals rose to the challenge by increasing their activity of two antioxidant enzymes in the liver, glutathione peroxidase and glutathione-S-transferase. The liver is the body's primary detoxification organ where toxic substances are broken down and eliminated, a process that generates a lot of free radicals. Glutathione peroxidase and glutathione-S-transferase are the bodyguards for liver cells, protecting them from free radical attack, so they can continue to protect us.
In other animal studies, scientists have noted that animals fed beet fiber had an increase in their number of colonic CD8 cells, special immune cells responsible for detecting and eliminating abnormal cells. With the increased surveillance provided by these additional CD8 cells, the animals in one of the studies given beet fiber had fewer pre-cancerous changes.
In stomach cancer patients, when scientists compared the effects of fruit and vegetable juices on the formation of nitrosamines, cancer-causing compounds produced in the stomach from chemicals called nitrates, beet juice was found to be a potent inhibitor of the cell mutations caused by these compounds. Nitrates are commonly used as a chemical preservative in processed meats.
MoonDragon's Health & Wellness: Cancer
BEETS, CHOLESTEROL & HEART DISEASE
In the first study mentioned above, not only did protective antioxidant activity increase in the livers of beet fiber-fed animals, but also their total cholesterol dropped 30 percent, their triglycerides dropped 40 percent (elevated triglycerides, the form in which fats are transported in the blood, are a significant risk factor for cardiovascular disease), and their HDL (beneficial cholesterol) level increased significantly.
MoonDragon's Health & Wellness: High Cholesterol
BEETS, BETAINE & INFLAMMATION
People whose diets supplied the highest average intake of choline (found in egg yolk and soybeans), and its metabolite betaine (found naturally in vegetables such as beets and spinach), have levels of inflammatory markers at least 20 percent lower than subjects with the lowest average intakes, report Greek researchers in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (Detopoulou P, Panagiotakos DB, et al.)
Compared to those whose diets contained less than 250 mg/day of choline, subjects whose diets supplied greater than 310 mg of choline daily had, on average:
- 22 percent lower concentrations of C-reactive protein.
- 26 percent lower concentrations of interleukin-6.
- 6 percent lower concentrations of tumor necrosis factor alpha.
Compared to those consuming less than 260 mg/day of betaine, subjects whose diets provided greater than 360 mg per day of betaine had, on average:
- 10 percent lower concentrations of homocysteine.
- 19 percent lower concentrations of C-reactive protein.
- 12 percent lower concentrations of tumor necrosis factor alpha.
Each of these markers of chronic inflammation has been linked to a wide range of conditions including heart disease, osteoporosis, cognitive decline and Alzheimer's, and type-2 diabetes.
In an accompanying editorial in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition entitled, "Is there a new component of the Mediterranean diet that reduces inflammation?," Steven Zeisel from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill noted that choline and betaine work together in the cellular process of methylation, which is not only responsible for the removal of homocysteine, but is involved in turning off the promoter regions of genes involved in inflammation.
"Exposure to oxidative stress is a potent trigger for inflammation. Betaine is formed from choline within the mitochondria, and this oxidation contributes to mitochondrial redox status," Zeisel continued. "If the association between choline and betaine and inflammation can be confirmed in studies of other populations, an interesting new dietary approach may be available for reducing chronic diseases associated with inflammation," he concluded.
Recommended daily intakes of choline were set in 1998 at 550 mg per day for men and 425 mg a day for women. No RDI has been set for betaine, which, since it is a metabolite of choline, is not considered an essential nutrient.
Practical Tip: Egg yolks are the richest source of choline, followed by soybeans. Beets, spinach and whole wheat products are primary sources of betaine. (Olthof MR, van Vliet T, et al. J Nutr)
BEETS, FOLATE & BIRTH DEFECTS PROTECTION
Beets are particularly rich in the B vitamin folate, which is essential for normal tissue growth. Eating folate-rich foods is especially important during pregnancy since without adequate folate, the infant's spinal column does not develop properly, a condition called neural tube defect. The daily requirement for folate is 400 mcg. Just one cup of boiled, sliced beets contains 136 mcg of folate.
INDIVIDUAL CONCERNS - BEETURIA
If you start to see red when you increase your consumption of beets, do not be alarmed. You are just experiencing beeturia, or a red or pink color to your urine or stool. No need to panic; the condition is harmless.
INDIVIDUAL CONCERNS - BEETS & OXALATES
Beets (notably beet greens) are among a small number of foods that contain measurable amounts of oxalates, naturally-occurring substances found in plants, animals, and human beings. When oxalates become too concentrated in body fluids, they can crystallize and cause health problems. For this reason, individuals with already existing and untreated kidney or gallbladder problems may want to avoid eating beets. Laboratory studies have shown that oxalates may also interfere with absorption of calcium from the body. Yet, in every peer-reviewed research study seen, the ability of oxalates to lower calcium absorption is relatively small and definitely does not outweigh the ability of oxalate-containing foods to contribute calcium to the meal plan. If your digestive tract is healthy, and you do a good job of chewing and relaxing while you enjoy your meals, you will get significant benefits - including absorption of calcium - from calcium-rich foods plant foods that also contain oxalic acid. Ordinarily, a health care practitioner would not discourage a person focused on ensuring that they are meeting their calcium requirements from eating these nutrient-rich foods because of their oxalate content.
NUTRIENT GUIDE: BEETS
Courtesy of Rick Hall, About.com Nutrition Guide nutrition.about.com
NUTRIENT UNITS 1 Cup Beets
PROXIMATES Water g 119.109 Energy kcal 58.480 Energy kj 244.800 Protein g 2.190 Total Lipid (Fat) g 0.231 Carbohydrate, By Difference g 13.002 Fiber, Total Dietary g 3.808 Ash g 1.469 MINERALS Calcium, Ca mg 21.760 Iron, Fe mg 1.088 Magnesium, Mg mg 31.280 Phosphorus, P mg 54.400 Potassium, K mg 442.000 Sodium, Na mg 106.080 Zinc, Zn mg 0.476 Copper, Cu mg 0.102 Manganese, Mn mg 0.447 Selenium, Se mcg 0.952 VITAMINS Vitamin C, ascorbic acid mg 6.664 Thiamin - B-1 mg 0.042 Riboflavin - B-2 mg 0.054 Niacin - B-3 mg 0.454 Pantothenic Acid - B-5 mg 0.211 Vitamin B-6 mg 0.091 Folate - B-9 mcg 148.240 Vitamin B-12 mcg 0.000 Vitamin A, IU IU 51.680 Vitamin A, Caratenoid mcg_RE 5.440 Vitamin E mg_ATE 0.408 LIPIDS Fatty Acids, Saturated g 0.037 4:0 Butyric g 0.000 6:0 Caproic g 0.000 8:0 Caprylic g 0.000 10:0 Capric g 0.000 12:0 Lauric g 0.000 14:0 Myristic g 0.000 16:0 Palmitic g 0.035 18:0 Stearic g 0.001 Fatty Acids, Monounsaturated g 0.045 16:1 Palmitol g 0.000 18:1 Oleic g 0.045 20:1 Eicosen g 0.000 22:1 Erucic g 0.000 Fatty Acids, Polyunsaturated g 0.083 18:2 Linoleic g 0.076 18:3 Linolenic g 0.007 18:4 Stearidon g 0.000 20:4 Arachidon g 0.000 20:5 EPA g 0.000 22:5 DPA g 0.000 22:6 DHA g 0.000 Cholesterol mg 0.000 Phytosterols mg 34.000 AMINO ACIDS Tryptophan g 0.026 Threonine g 0.064 Isoleucine g 0.065 Leucine g 0.092 Lysine g 0.079 Methionine g 0.024 Cystine g 0.026 Phenylalanine g 0.063 Tyrosine g 0.052 Valine g 0.076 Arginine g 0.057 Histidine g 0.029 Alanine g 0.082 Aspartic Acid g 0.158 Glutamic Acid g 0.582 Glycine g 0.042 Proline g 0.057 Serine g 0.080
USDA Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 12 (March 1998)
The rough looking exterior of raw beets can be transformed into something wonderfully soft and buttery once they are cooked. While beets are available throughout the year, their season runs from June through October when the youngest, most tender beets are easiest to find.
Edible green leaves are attached to the tapered round or oblong root portions that we know as beets. While we often think of beets having a reddish-purple hue, some varieties are white, golden-yellow or even rainbow colored. The sweet taste of beets reflects their high sugar content making them an important raw material for the production of refined sugar; they have the highest sugar content of all vegetables, yet are very low in calories.
BEET ROOT PIGMENTS
The color of red/purple beet-root is due to a variety of betalain pigments, unlike most other red plants, such as red cabbage, which contain anthocyanin pigments. The composition of different betalain pigments can vary, giving breeds of beet-root which are yellow or other colors in addition to the familiar deep red. Some of the betalains in beets are betanin, isobetanin, probetanin, and neobetanin (the red to violet ones are known collectively as betacyanin). Other pigments contained in beet are indicaxanthin and vulgaxanthins (yellow to orange pigments known as betaxanthins). Indicaxanthin has been shown as a powerful protective antioxidant for thalassemia, as well as prevents the breakdown of alpha-tocopherol (Vitamin E).
Betacyanin in beet-root may cause red urine in some people who are unable to break it down. This is called beeturia.
The pigments are contained in cell vacuoles. Beet-root cells are quite unstable and will 'leak' when cut, heated, or when in contact with air or sunlight. This is why red beet roots leave a purple stain. Leaving the skin on when cooking, however, will maintain the integrity of the cells and therefore minimize leakage.
Choose small or medium-sized beets whose roots are firm, smooth-skinned and deep in color. Smaller, younger beets may be so tender that peeling will not be needed after they are cooked.
Avoid beets that have spots, bruises or soft, wet areas, all of which indicate spoilage. Shriveled or flabby beets should also be avoided as these are signs that the roots are aged, tough and fibrous.
While the quality of the greens does not reflect that of the roots, if you are going to consume this very nutritious part of the plant, look for greens that appear fresh, tender, and have a lively green color.
BEET PREPARATION TIPS
Cook beets lightly. Studies show beets' anti-cancer activity is diminished by heat.
Do not peel beets until after cooking. When bruised or pierced, beets bleed, losing some of their vibrant color and turning a duller brownish red. To minimize bleeding, wash beets gently under cool running water, taking care not to tear the skin since this tough outer layer helps keep most of beets' pigments inside the vegetable. To prevent bleeding when boiling beets, leave them whole with their root ends and one inch of stem attached.
Beets' color can be modified during cooking. Adding an acidic ingredient such as lemon juice or vinegar will brighten the color while an alkaline substance such as baking soda will often cause them to turn a deeper purple. Salt will blunt beets' color, so add only at the end of cooking if needed.
Since beet juice can stain your skin, wearing kitchen gloves is a good idea when handling beets. If your hands become stained during the cleaning and cooking process, simply rubbing some lemon juice on them will remove the stain.
PREPARATION OF BEET-ROOTS
Wash the beets and trim the ends off before cooking.
Place trimmed beets in a roasting pan and add a little water for steam. Roast the beets at 425°F for 30 to 45 minutes (cover the pan with foil) or until the beets are easily pierced with a knife. Slip off the skins under running water and slice or dice.
If boiling, cook the beets for 20 to 30 minutes, or until tender.
If using a microwave oven, cook the beets with a little water for 8 to 15 minutes.
Match beets with orange (juice and zest), ginger or both.
Dress beets with a vinaigrette. Serve warm or at room temperature. Add some sweet onion, parsley, and hard-boiled egg chunks for a hearty salad.
Keep the beet greens - you can cook and eat these like any other slightly bitter greens.
If you are mixing beets with other vegetables (in a salad, for instance), cook and dress the beets separately and add them last. Their vivid color will seep into everything else otherwise.
PREPARING BEET GREENS
Wash greens well to remove any dirt or sand.
Remove the stems if they are thick. Do not toss them; chop them into bite-sized pieces. You can cook them later or eat them with the greens. The stems will take a little longer to cook, so start them first.
Boil the greens for 3 to 5 minutes in salted water, or until just tender. (Add the stems a few minutes before the leaves.)
Steam the greens for 2 to 3 minutes.
Braise greens by heating a little olive oil over medium heat. Add some minced garlic and red pepper flakes and saute for 30 seconds, then add the greens, along with the water that clings to their leaves from washing. Saute the greens until they are slightly wilted, then cover and braise until tender (just a few minutes). Season with salt and pepper.
Pair greens with beans such as chick peas (garbanzo beans) or white beans. The beans make for a hearty dish and mellow out the taste of the greens.
Spruce up greens with diced tomato and a dash of lemon juice or hot pepper sauce.
For traditional Southern greens, boil with pork shoulder for an extended period - up to an hour.
Store beets unwashed in the refrigerator crisper where they will keep for two to four weeks. Cut the majority of the greens and their stems from the roots, so they do not pull away moisture away from the root. Leave about two inches of the stem attached to prevent the roots from "bleeding." Store the unwashed greens in a separate plastic bag where they will keep fresh for about four days.
Raw beets do not freeze well since they tend to become soft upon thawing. Freezing cooked beets is fine; they will retain their flavor and texture.
BEET SERVING IDEAS
Marinate steamed beets in fresh lemon juice, olive oil, and fresh herbs. Spinach beet leaves are eaten as a pot herb. Young leaves of the garden beet are sometimes used similarly. The midribs of Swiss chard are eaten boiled while the whole leaf blades are eaten as spinach beet. In some parts of Africa, the whole leaf blades are usually prepared with the midribs as one dish. The leaves and stems of young plants are steamed briefly and eaten as a vegetable; older leaves and stems are stir-fried and have a flavor resembling taro leaves.
The usually deep-red roots of garden beet are eaten boiled either as a cooked vegetable, or cold as a salad after cooking and adding oil and vinegar. A large proportion of the commercial production is processed into boiled and sterilized beets or into pickles. In Eastern Europe beet soup, such as cold borscht, is a popular dish. Yellow-colored garden beets are grown on a very small scale for home consumption.
Beet-root can be peeled, steamed, and then eaten warm with butter as a delicacy; cooked, pickled, and then eaten cold as a condiment; or peeled, shredded raw, and then eaten as a salad. Pickled beets are a traditional food of the American South. It is also common in Australia and New Zealand for pickled beet-root to be served on a hamburger. Yellow beets are best when steamed.
One increasingly popular preparation involves tossing peeled and diced beets with a small amount of oil and seasoning, then roasting in the oven until tender.
A traditional Pennsylvania German (US) dish is Red Beet Eggs. Hard-boiled eggs are refrigerated in the cooking liquid of pickled beets and allowed to marinate until the eggs turn a deep pink-red color.
Betanins, obtained from the roots, are used industrially as red food colorants, e.g. to intensify the color of tomato paste, sauces, desserts, jams and jellies, ice cream, sweets and breakfast cereals. Beet pulp is fed to horses that are in vigorous training or conditioning and to those that may be allergic to dust from hay.
Beetroot can also be used to make wine. The consumption of beets are known to cause pink urine, but is very healthy for the immune system.
QUICK SERVING IDEAS
Simply grate raw beets for a delicious and colorful addition to salads or decorative garnish for soups. Add chunks of beet when roasting vegetables in the oven. Serve homemade vegetable juice. A quarter of a beet will turn any green drink into a sweet pink concoction, pleasing both the eyes and the taste buds. Healthy sauteed beet greens with other braising greens such as chard and mustard greens.
BEAN & BEET SALAD RECIPE
2 cans French Cut Green Beans
2 cans Sliced Beets
2 medium Onions; cut in rings
3/4 cup Sugar
1 teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon Pepper
2/3 cup Vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Celery Seed
1/4 cup Salad Oil
Combine beans, beets and onion rings. Combine the next six ingredients and pour over the above. Marinate over night.
BEET PICKLED EGGS RECIPE #1
12 hard boiled Eggs, peeled
1-1/2 cups Cider Vinegar
1 cup Beet Juice
8 whole Peppercorns (8 to 10)
3 whole Cloves
3 cloves Garlic
1 Bay Leaf
1 tablespoon Sugar
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/8 teaspoon ground Allspice
Pack peeled eggs in a clean one quart jar. Combine remaining ingredients, except dill in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 3-5 minutes. Pour hot mixture over eggs, add dill and cover tightly. Refrigerate for at least 2 days before serving. Will keep for about 2 weeks in the refrigerator.
Makes 12 servings.
PICKLED BEETS RECIPE #2
10 pounds fresh small Beets, stems removed
2 cups White Sugar
1 tablespoon Pickling Salt
1 quart White Vinegar
1/4 cup whole Cloves
Place beets in a large stockpot with water to cover. Bring to a boil, and cook until tender, about 15 minutes depending on the size of the beets. If beets are large, cut them into quarters. Drain, reserving 2 cups of the beet water, cool and peel. Sterilize jars and lids by immersing in boiling water for at least 10 minutes. Fill each jar with beets and add several whole cloves to each jar. In a large saucepan, combine the sugar, beet water, vinegar, and pickling salt. Bring to a rapid boil. Pour the hot brine over the beets in the jars, and seal lids. Store in a cool dark place, and refrigerate after opening.
Note: The pickled beet brine can be used to pickle eggs after the pickled beets are removed.
BEET & POTATO SALAD RECIPE
3 Medium-size Red-Skinned Potatoes; (about 3/4 pound)
1 small Onion, chopped
6 tablespoons White Vinegar
4-1/2 tablespoons Olive Oil
4 teaspoons Ground Coriander
Cook potatoes and beets in separate medium pots of boiling salted water until tender, about 30 minutes for potatoes and 35 minutes for beets. Drain; cool slightly. Peel vegetables and thinly slice into rounds. Whisk vinegar, oil and coriander in medium bowl. Season generously with salt and pepper. Add vegetables; toss gently to coat. (Can be made 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.)
BEET BORSCHT RECIPE #1
2 pounds Beef Brisket
1 large Bunch Beets
2 medium Onions
2 tablespoons Sugar
1 large clove Garlic
1 Lemon, Juiced
Salt and pepper to taste
Simmer beef in water to cover generously. Skim to clear. Add lemon juice, sliced and peeled onions and beets, sugar, and seasoning. Mince garlic fine, add to broth. Cook until meat is tender (about 3 hours). Correct seasonings, serve hot.
ROASTED BEET BORSCHT RECIPE #2
1 pound Beets
Kosher salt and freshly ground Black Pepper
6 sprigs fresh Thyme
6 tablespoons extra-virgin Olive Oil
1 medium Onion, chopped
2 Carrots, chopped
2 cloves Garlic, chopped
6 cups Chicken Stock, heated
2 tablespoons Red Wine Vinegar
1 tablespoon Honey
1 Granny Smith Apple, peeled
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Dill
Sour Cream, for garnish
Heat oven to 400°F. Scrub the beets and put them on a large piece of aluminum foil; season with salt and pepper, add 3 thyme sprigs, and drizzle with 3 tablespoons olive oil. Bake until the beets are tender, about 1 hour. Set aside. When the beets are cool enough to handle but still warm, slip off their skins, and chop them into large chunks. In a large heavy bottomed pot over medium heat, add the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil. Put in the onion, carrots, garlic, and remaining 3 thyme sprigs and cook until softened and just starting to color, about 10 minutes. Add the chicken stock and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes. Remove the thyme sprigs. Put the chopped beets into a blender and add the cooked vegetables and most of the stock. Blend until smooth, add more stock if the puree is too thick. Add the vinegar and honey; season with salt and pepper. Blend again to incorporate flavors. Borscht can be served hot or cold.
To make the garnish, grate the apple on the large holes of a box grater and mix in the dill. Serve in bowls, garnished with a big dollop of sour cream and topped with the apple and dill mixture.
ROASTED BEETS & SHALLOTS
2 pounds fresh Beets, washed and trimmed
1/2 pound Shallots, peeled
1 tablespoon Vinegar
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
1 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper
Preheat oven to 400°F. Place the beets and shallots on a large sheet of aluminum foil and fold the edges together to seal tightly. Bake for 1 hour or until the beets are tender; remove from oven and allow to cool long enough to handle. Combine remaining ingredients and set aside. Remove skins from beets, then cut into chunks or wedges. Drizzle vinegar mixture over all and toss well.
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