You have heard and read it lots of times. Raw beets are good for you so you should make a point to eat them as often as you can. Here are a few reasons why.
When consumed regularly, beets can help keep you away from the doctor’s office for a long time. As a nutritionist, I never run out of reasons when people ask me why they should go out of their way to incorporate beets into their diet.
Beets appear prominently in lists of power foods recommended for weight loss, medicinal value and maintenance of general health and wellness. If you are not yet sufficiently persuaded to incorporate this vegetable into your diet, here are a few reasons.
Firstly, beets are packed with valuable nutrients, secondly beets can be eaten in a variety of forms and lastly, beets can be eaten daily with no negative effects.
Nutritional Benefits of Raw Beets
Despite their size, beets are a powerhouse of nutrients packed into one vegetable. They contain nutrients useful in maintenance of good health and wellness as well as prevention of common conditions. Some benefits of beets include:
Improved Brain Health: Decline of mental and cognitive function is normal as you age. It is generally linked to reduced blood flow and oxygen to the brain. For some people, a sharp decline in this function results in conditions like dementia.
Nitrates contained in beets improve mental and cognitive function by dilating blood vessels, which then improves blood circulation and oxygen supply to the frontal lobe of the brain. This is an important part of the brain which controls memory, problem solving, language, judgment and sexual behaviors.
It is also responsible for motor function and voluntary muscle movement. The frontal lobe has been described as the ‘control panel’ of our personality and ability to communicate.
Stable Blood Pressure: Beets have proved effective in lowering blood pressure in hypertensive people by between 4 and 10 mmHg a few hours after consuming them. This effect is attributed to high levels of nitrates in beets. Nitrates are converted into nitric oxide, a molecule which dilates (widens) blood vessels causing a drop in blood pressure.
Nitrate levels in the blood remain elevated for only a few hours. It is advisable for hypertensive people to consume beets regularly because this eventually produces long-term reductions in blood pressure.
How to Eat Raw Beets
Salads are a great addition to any meal, any time of day. They are quick and easy to prepare at home or order at a restaurant. The fact that all ingredients are raw means that you get all nutrients in their natural form and enjoy flavors as natural as they get.
Salads are a good source of fibre which promotes proper digestion and digestive tract health.
Beets add to the visual appeal of a salad because the bright red color makes all the other colors pop. You can use the beets grated, chopped into chunks or cut into thin slices.
Be careful not to counteract all the health benefits of your beet salad with unhealthy salad dressings. These are often packed with corn syrup for flavoring, fructose and trans-fats.
You can make your own salad dressing using healthy oil like olive oil, herbs and lemon juice or vinegar. Fats in healthy oils like olive oil assist in breakdown and absorption of nutrients in the salad.
Dietary guidelines from the U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends between 5 and 13 portions of fruits and vegetables per day depending on an individual’s physical activity and gender.
It is difficult to meet this daily requirement especially if you are not the biggest fan of vegetables. Juicing makes it possible because you can cram all five portions of fruit and vegetables into a juicer and sip the juice slowly as you go about your day. Besides the benefit of a mix of nutrients in a single glass, nutrients from juices are absorbed much faster than when eaten as whole vegetables.
Is Eating Raw Beets Daily Healthy?
They do say that too much of anything is poisonous, but is a chunk of beet every morning too much? Not at all. Nutrition experts recommend a daily nitrate intake of 0.06 millimoles per litre (mmol) per kilogram of body weight.
This translates to a daily nitrate requirement of 4.08 mmol for an average adult who weighs 150 lbs. A large chunk or one cup of sliced beet weighs about 80g and contains 1.88 mmol of nitrates. If you are an adult of average weight, this means you need to eat two cups or two large chunks of beet every day to meet your body’s daily nitrate requirements.
You simply cannot go wrong with raw beets. They are full of nutrients, low in calories and have a sweet earthy taste. Even if you cannot get the full, daily recommended amount of beet, you would rather have small amounts than nothing at all.
Other nitrate rich foods which could be added to beets to help you meet your daily requirement are garlic, green leafy vegetables such as spinach and citrus fruits like oranges, lemons and grapefruits.
Is it safe to eat raw beets?
Raw beets are safe and very nutritious because you get all the natural goodness and flavor from them. Some nutrients are lost when they are cooked.
How can I store raw beets?
Beets should be put in a plastic bag and stored on the lower shelves of the fridge.
How long will raw beets last in the fridge?
Raw beets can last up to 2 weeks as long as they are properly wrapped and refrigerated. Avoid washing beets until they are ready for use. This helps keep them longer.
Are beet peels edible?
You can eat beets without peeling them for an extra amount of fibre. Fresh beets generally have soft, easily edible peels. The older the beet gets, the tougher the peel becomes. If you have small beets, you can cook them whole without peeling them.
Are raw beets more nutritious than cooked beets?
Some nutrients are lost in cooking, depending on the cooking method used.