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The Top 10 Health Benefits Of Beets

August 24th, 2012

Beets are easy to love. They are gorgeous in color, and offer a rich, earthy flavor that can’t be replicated. Once you get cooking, one slice down the center allows a beet’s red juices to trickle free, making you wonder if you got lost in some teenage vampire movie. But don’t let that deter you from roasting or juicing them, grating and then throwing them in salad, or even baking them into a gratin.

While at one time beets made “The 11 Best Foods You Are Not Eating List” we’re hoping that beets are making a comeback! There are just too many health benefits one should take advantage of. Read on for 10 reasons beets should make a comeback on your plate.

1. Beets contain a unique combination of antioxidants. They contain essential phytonutrients called betalains. Betalains contain a variety of antioxidants, and give beets their famous red and yellow hue.  These phytonutrients, along with vitamin C and manganese, help to protect against certain cancers, cardiovascular disease, as well as age-related macular degeneration.

2. Beets can lower blood pressure. Research at the American Heart Association found that beets can lower blood pressure and reduce cardiovascular disease. An article published by Hypertension (June 30, 2010) suggests that 8.5 ounces of beet juice can greatly lower systolic blood pressure.

3. Beets keep athletes hydrated. Beet juice contains high levels of potassium, which help to balance electrolytes and regulates the body’s fluids.

4. Beets are a natural anti-inflammatory. Chronic inflammation can lead to heart disease, certain cancers, and other health problems. Fortunately, beets contain high levels of carotenoid phytonutrients and betain (a B-complex vitamin), that help to regulate inflammation. Furthermore, beets also contain choline, an important vitamin in controlling inflammation.

5. Beets detoxify the body. Betalain pigments not only give beets their rich color, but are also important contributors to the body’s detoxification process. Pigments help to neutralize unwanted toxins and make them easier to eliminate in urine. Those that live in big cities or feel they are exposed to above average toxin levels could benefit from adding beets to their diet.

6. Beets contain healthy nitrates. A study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that there is an important nitrate in beets that helps increase stamina, and reduces the need for oxygen intake.  This combination makes exercise less tiring, and those who took part in the study felt more energized.

7. Beets can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. Many prefer beets that are lightly steamed, boiled, baked or roasted. But just remember that high heat reduces the antioxidant and nutrient content (don’t you hate that?). Fear not – raw beets are also exceptionally flavorful. To attain the most benefits, throw ½ beet down a juicer along with your favorite fruits and vegetables, or grate/slice thinly in a salad.

8. Beets are essential for eye health. They can improve overall eye health, and have even been studied to reduce rates of macular degeneration, which affects a growing number of seniors.

9. Beets can prevent cardiovascular disease. Amrita Ahluwalia, Professor of Vascular Biology at Queen Mary’s William Harvey Research Institute said, “Our research suggests that drinking beet juice, or consuming other nitrate-rich vegetables, might be a simple way to maintain a healthy cardiovascular system, and might also be an additional approach that one could take in the modern day battle against rising blood pressure.”

10. Beets can help those with anemia and low-blood hemoglobin. The high iron content in beet juice is easily absorbed in the blood stream, and can also increase blood count and improve circulation.

***Are you growing beets this fall? What are your favorite ways to enjoy beets?

 

Sources:

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=49

http://www.prohealth.com//library/showArticle.cfm?libid=7575

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/06/30/the-11-best-foods-you-arent-eating/

http://www.naturalnews.com/029227_beet_juice_blood_pressure.html#ixzz24DsBa5yc

http://www.ageless.co.za/herb-beetroot-juice.htm

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The Power of Peppers

January 6th, 2011

 

The next time you plant peppers seeds in your garden ponder this as your peppers grow and thrive: in addition to adding vibrant colors and a wide range of flavors to you plate and palate, peppers—both mild and hot—offer an abundance of health benefits, including:

1. Vitamins A, C and K – Bell peppers are chockfull of these vitamins. Vitamins A and C, by way of carotenoids, help support immune function, as well as help to prevent cell damage and diseases related to aging. Vitamin K helps protect cells from oxidative damage, and it helps to strengthen bones.

2. Red bell peppers contain lycopene, a carotenoid which helps to prevent some forms of cancer, such as cancers of the cervix and prostate cancer.

3. Capsaicin, mostly found in the white membranes of hot peppers, is the star when it comes to the benefits of peppers. Capsaicin, considered a superfood, has been shown to: relieve cluster, migraine and sinus headaches; aid in arthritis relief; and act as an anti-inflammatory. It is also acknowledged for improving mood and raising endorphin levels.

These are just a few of the wonderful health benefits of peppers. Vegetables, as humble as they may seem, are natural wonders that everyone should eat more of for increased nutrition.

Here’s a tasty stuffed jalapeno recipe, perfect to serve as an appetizer.

Stuffed Jalapenos, Southwest-Style

8 large jalapenos, halved, lengthwise, seeds removed
1 cup cheddar cheese
1 package cream cheese, softened
Pinch of garlic powder
Pinch of salt
Hickory smoked bacon slices

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. In a small bowl, combine cheddar cheese, cream cheese, garlic powder and salt. Stuff peppers generously with cheese mixture. Wrap bacon slices around peppers then secure with toothpicks. Bake until bacon is crisped.

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Garden Vegetables: A Kaleidoscope of Health

November 20th, 2010

 

Fruits and vegetables come in all shades of vibrant colors—green, orange, red, yellow and more—that will make your plate and palette pop. But did you know that each color offers health benefits as well?

Plants contain phytochemicals which protect them from things like UV rays and garden villains. These same phytochemicals help boost our immune system when consumed and have been shown to act as free radical scavengers. Here is a short list of vegetables with some of their benefits.

- Tomatoes and red bell peppers: their bright red color comes from lycopene, a carotene and caratenoid pigment. Lycopene has been considered a potential agent for prevention of some types of cancer, such as prostate cancer.

- Carrots and winter squash: their vibrant orange color comes from beta carotene, which can be converted to active vitamin A. The phytochemicals found in orange and yellow vegetables may help lower the risk of some forms of cancer, as well as help vision and heart and immune systems.

- Broccoli: its green comes from indole-3 carbinol (I3C), a compound that occurs naturally in broccoli and other green vegetables such as cabbage, Brussels sprouts, turnips, and more. I3C has been shown to inhibit the development of cancers of the breast, colon, liver, lung and stomach in some animals.

- Eggplant: it’s chock-full of anthocyanins, water-soluble vacuolar pigments that belong to the parent class of molecules called flavonoids. These anthocyanins have been shown to protect cell membranes from damage.

So much potential in small packages! The next time you eat your favorite fruit or vegetable look at its color and think about the health benefits that may come from eating it. There’s so much to appreciate and more there than meets the eye!

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