Beets! Do you love them, do you hate them? This vermilion coloured root vegetable has a long history as a staple food. Beetroot is harvested through the season and kept for extended periods of time, months when stored properly. Beets have provided nourishment to humans for ages, as far back as 300 BC!
I find ingredients with a history particularly interesting – if a food item has been feeding the people at minimum three hundred years, I’m curious to know more. Most foods developed in part with the industrial revolution don’t interest me – think white flour vs. whole grains or tempeh vs. Tofurky.
I received some sweet ancestral inspiration over the holiday and crafted a new soup I’m calling New Roots – a stunning ruby hued blend of beetroot, parsnips and carrot, much like a traditional Polish Christmas Eve beet borscht but with a contemporary twist. Rather than removing the root veggies from the broth, I’ve blended them silky smooth in my Vitamix, and topped it off with a medley of savoury dehydrated mushroom, onion and dill. It’s a keeper and you’re welcome to come by the store soon and try it.
The beauty within the beet runs deeper than the colour. Lots of fruits and vegetables look like the organ or body part they’re good for and beets are no exception.
- They purify and lower blood pressure and provide general heart health
- Beets are known to slow the progression of dementia and improve glucose, insulin and oxidative-stress levels in those with diabetes
- They’re alkaline and anti-inflammatory
- They’ve been shown to measurably improve athletic endurance and ability
- Beets are loaded with fibre and can improve digestion
In other words, beets might have earned their place as the new superfood.
If you’re the kind of person who is interested in your poo… then you might be curious to know beets’ colour pigmentation gives you the opportunity to track your digestive cycle time, by consuming fresh beets, in the form of juices, smoothies or soups. Digestive times vary from person to person but as a general rule it takes six to eight hours, for food to work its way through your stomach and small intestine, before reaching your large intestine. At that point you’re looking at anywhere from 24 and 72 hours before you’ll see that familiar rose-colour hue again. Keeping transit time closer to the 24-36 hour mark is typically best for digestive health and overall wellness. A simple way for most people to achieve this is with a food lifestyle that includes fibre filled, nutrient dense foods regularly.
Something to be conscious of when consuming beets is the sugar content. This mostly depends on how you’re preparing them. Juicing beets to extract the fibre from the juice increases the glycemic index, as the sugars in the vegetable work synergistically with the fibre to slow absorption by the body. When the fibre is removed the sugars are absorbed more quickly into the bloodstream. Beets have been processed for their sugar since the mid 1800s. In fact, 55% of the refined white sugar produced in the US today is by the beet sugar industry. This is a highly processed byproduct of sugar beets and not the same as eating fresh, organic whole beets loaded with numerous health benefits. Most plant foods are best consumed as close to their whole form as possible.
Before we go, it would be a shame to not mention that beet tops are highly nutritious and contain calcium, vitamins A, C, K and E and they have a higher iron content than spinach. Sautée and season them like collard greens or blend a few into your daily green smoothie.
Keep an eye on our Instagram feed for news of the release of our new New Roots soup and possibly another surprise – we’re working on a fermented beet juice kvass shooter, we think you’re going to really like it.