Fresh, locally grown beetroots, packed with disease-fighting phytonutrients, are at their peak in late summer through early fall. Red beets owe their deep crimson hue to betaine, a natural compound thought to help guard against heart disease and cancer. (It is betaine that causes some people to pass reddish colored urine after eating beets. This is a harmless side effect and will subside once the food leaves your system.)
Betaine acts as an anti-oxidant which helps fight inflammation in the body, a risk factor for many chronic diseases. Beets are good for your liver, too. The liver uses betaine to neutralize toxins so they can be removed from the body.
Beets also contain folate, a B vitamin used to create and repair DNA and to make red blood cells, and potassium, a mineral that helps keep blood pressure in check.
How to enjoy beets
Raw. Add grated raw beets to salads, coleslaw and wraps.
Blend. Purée chopped cooked beets into a fruit or green smoothie.
Roast. Include beets in a medley of oven-roasted root vegetables such as carrots, parsnips and turnips. Beets take longer to cook than other vegetables, so roast them first before adding other vegetables.
Sauté. Heat chopped precooked beets in olive oil with freshly squeezed orange juice and grated orange rind. Garnish with chopped chives.
Toss. Serve sliced or grilled beets over a bed of greens. Add orange slices, toasted walnuts and feta or goat’s cheese
Slurp. Enjoy a bowl of borscht, a traditional Russian soup made with beets.
Snack. Bake beet chips by tossing peeled and thinly sliced beets (use a mandolin) with olive oil. Spread slices evenly on a baking sheet; bake at 400˚ F until crispy. Sprinkle with sea salt.
(Food for Thought by Leslie Beck, Globe and Mail, Monday September 9, 2013)
Beet Greens are also packed with nutrition, in particular beta-carotene and lutein, an antioxidant that helps maintain healthy vision. Toss washed beet greens into salads, add them to soups and pasta sauces, or sauté them in olive oil and crushed garlic until tender.