Winter Vegetable Benefits: Focus on Beets
Katy Wallace is a traditional Naturopath, and Yoga Teacher with Human Nature (www.humannaturellc.com). She enjoys eating fresh local foods and exploring seasonal changes of southern Wisconsin ecology with her husband, Woody, and daughter, Marian.
The cold, silent winter months bring the opportunity for self-centering. Time taken for self-reflection heightens our internal capacity for storage; restoring the nervous system from the hectic events of fall and holidays, and also making space for new schemes in the New Year. Similarly, winter is a time to make space for a vegetable storage share, and reap the restorative qualities of the hardy vegetables. Celeriac, fennel, carrots, turnips, cabbage, rutabagas, beets, radishes, hard squashes, onions, and garlic are typical members of a winter storage share. Although each vegetable in the storage share has its merits, beets are impressive in their nutritive qualities.
High in phytonutrients called betalains, beets reduce inflammation and assist with detoxification in the liver—qualities that help us recover from stress and exposure to toxins. A 2006 study from Italy demonstrated beets are an important source of the carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin, that maintain eye health with age. Beets also are high in fundamental nutrients like iron, potassium, and vitamin C that help us maintain our energy and avoid fatigue. Recent studies indicate prolonged cooking tends to deplete the betalains. Roasting beets for 60 minutes is preferable to 90, for example, in order to maintain a significant concentration of the betalains.
One of my favorite recipes with beets is an easy raw grated one. A batch of this recipe can be stored in a jar in the refrigerator and just 1-2 Tbls may be taken with meals.
Raw Beet Salad
Aids sluggish digestion, provides liver and gall bladder support, and improves protein metabolism.
1 cup raw beets, peeled and shredded
2 Tbls extra virgin olive oil
½ lemon, squeezed
In a container, combine shredded beets, olive oil and lemon juice. Cover and store in the refrigerator. Consume one or more tablespoons with meals.
Paul Pitchford, Healing with Whole Foods, Third Edition.