I know, I know - the title of this blog post is corny, but I just couldn't help it (and it was the first thing that popped into my head). This weeks functional food is Beets! I feel like this vegetable gets a bad reputation because people say that they taste like dirt. Let's be honest - I definitely had that thought when I first tried them too. But now I freakin love beets - in stirfrys, salads and juice! Another thing I love about them is their bright red coloring. I'm always fascinated by naturally vibrant colors of certain fruits, vegetables and spices. Not only are beets beautiful and really good for you - but their juices have been used as a dye for thousands of years (just like turmeric). Sure, they can be a pain to chop because they'll stain your hands and cutting board. BUT the nutritional benefits they bring to the table completely make up for it!
Let's talk about what this beautiful vegetable has to offer:
1. Promotes weight loss (Beets are jam-packed full of fiber, which means they keep your body satisfied for longer. Bonus: they're also low calories. If you begin eating fiber-rich foods, you will lose weight.)
2. Brain Booster (Beets naturally contain nitrates, studies have shown that beet root powder can protect against cognitive decline as we age. One study even found that diets higher in nitrates helped increase blood flow in the brain!)
3. Antioxidant Rich (Like I've mentioned in previous blog posts, antioxidants help prevent free radicals and oxidative stress within the body. Beets naturally contain antioxidants and phytonutrients. One category of phytonutrients, called betalains, are both antioxidant rich and anti-inflammatory. They're also what provide beets with their color.)
4. Natural Detoxifier (Consuming beet juice positively impacts our live function by keeping it working properly. Studies have shown that it can increase levels of enzymes within the body that are specifically involved with detoxification.)
5. Digestive Aid (Like mentioned above, Beets are naturally rich in fiber - meaning these babies are going to help you become more "regular" if you know what I'm saying. Upping your fiber intake not only keeps you full, but keeps your bowel movements healthy.)
6. Natural Performance Booster (Beets, beet root powder and beet juice have been shown to positively impact the performance of athletes. Why? Thanks to their nitrate content, which have proved to boost energy levels within the body.)
7. Heart Healthy (So at this point we all know that Beets naturally contain nitrates. Studies on nitrates have shown that they improve blood flow within the body, and in turn, reduce blood pressure levels!)
8. Anti-inflammatory (Studies have shown that consuming beets and beetroot powder or juice decreased inflammatory markers in people with high blood pressure.)
Can you believe all the benefits beets bring to the table?! Learning about their nutritional benefits honestly just makes me want to eat them more. Not only can you eat beets, you can also eat the beet greens. The greens are very nutrient-dense, containing beta-carotene and lutein. Beets have also been used in for thousands of years in Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda. They're believed to calm the mind, improve blood circulation and treat a variety of conditions. Beets are very versatile in the cooking world - they can be used in both savory and sweet dishes. You can find fresh beets at your local farmers market. I don't know about you babes, but I can't freakin wait for it to be farmers market season. Give me all the fresh fruits and veggies!