Beets... Why you need to be eating them!

When I think of beets, I think of the kind that come in a can that my mom used to feed us growing up. Even as a kid, I really enjoyed beets. They are such a beautiful, vibrant color and have a tangy, slightly sweet taste to them.

As I began to learn more about the healing properties of food, I learned to appreciate beets even more than. This time, however, I realized that the whole, organic version was much superior to the kind in the can. I also realized that making them was much easier than I realized, especially in the instant pot. There is no judgement if you are still enjoying beets from a can or jar, but just read the labels and try to avoid things like added sugar, high fructose corn syrup and other nasty ingredients that I have seen lurking in canned foods.

Why are beets so good for you? Let's start with the nutrients they supply. Beets are a good source of Vitamins A, B, C, Folate, Potassium and pack a nice dose of dietary fiber. In addition to being a nutrient powerhouse, beets also contain Nitric oxide. It is this naturally occurring form of nitrates that helps relax blood vessels and increase the oxygen carrying capacity by improving blood flow. Artificial sources of nitrates, like those found in processed lunch meats are very different than these naturally occurring nitrates that are found in beets.

It is those nutrients mentioned above that also help support a healthy detoxification process in your body. This is very important as we are all exposed, daily, to substances that our body needs to get rid of for optimal health. Supporting our detoxification pathways is critical to good overall health.

Speaking of increased blood flow. There are some that view beets as an aphrodisiac because they increase blood flow which, in turn, can increase libido!

The nutrients found in beets help keep homocysteine levels in check. High Homocysteine levels can contribute to inflammation, stroke, heart disease and even Alzheimers. The folate in beets can help our bodies properly break down homocysteine. The B vitamins can also help ensure we have adequate energy and the co-factors for so many important chemical reactions that take place in a healthy body.

Beets contain an Amino Acid called Betaine which comes from Choline, which is a pre-cursor to Acetylcholine which helps with gut health and with memory. Beets are also rich in Trimethylglycine which gives them their beautiful deep red color. Trimethylglycine is a methyl donor that also helps boost the body's production of something called SAMe. Methylation is very important in helping the body create ATP or energy. Healthy methylation is absolutely critical to good health, so any foods that help support that are great choices!

So, now that you know about all the benefits of beets, the question is when will they show up on your plate?! I hope the answer is soon.

Beets sometimes get a bad rap in the keto world because a 1 cup serving contains about 12 net carbs. I believe that these can still be part of a healthy, low carb diet. Many people will eat keto most of the time and cycle out every so often (like on the weekends). Beets can be enjoyed during those times when you might be including some healthy higher carbohydrate foods. I truly believe there is a place for beets in most people's diets. Of course, your needs may be unique and you will want to discuss this with your health care practitioner.

Here is a simple recipe to get you started:

- 1 lb. organic beets, washed, scrubbed and cubed into about 1 inch pieces

- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

- 1/2 cup water

- dash of sea salt

- very small amount (dash) of stevia - optional

Place all ingredients in your instant pot and cook for 15 minutes. You can manually release or allow to naturally release. Enjoy your beets! To store, place the beets in an air-tight glass container and cover with the liquid. These are great hot or cold.

Hope you enjoy!

Dr. Jeni

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