Beat Poor Health With Beets?
Researchers from Wake Forest University had 14 seniors (70 years old and up) drink either 16 oz. of beet juice or eat a control diet in the morning for two days, then used MRI machines to measure blood flow to the brain. The groups switched diets for another two days, and then were tested again. The result: The beet-juice drinkers enjoyed 21% increased blood flow to the frontal lobes -- sensitive areas of the brain vulnerable to the degeneration that leads to dementia. Gary Miller, Ph.D., senior investigator of the project stated, "I think these results are consistent and encouraging that good diet consisting of a lot of fruit and vegetables can contribute to overall health."
These results pointed to the concept that increased blood flow could lower dementia risk it only makes sense! So how can beets benefit the brain? Well, beets are loaded with nitrates, which when converted to nitric oxide actually expand veins and arteries, allowing more blood to flow and carry oxygen to the brain, as well as to the muscles, too. (That's probably why beet pulp is fed to horses that are in vigorous training or conditioning and to horses that may be allergic to dust from hay.)
FUN FACTS ABOUT BEETS:
- Beets contain one of the highest sugar content of any vegetable yet they contain less than 50 calories per cup!
- The edible portion of beet is both the root and the leafy green portion. Both are nutritional dynamite when included in raw juicing. Beet juice is very strong and powerful, and is usually mixed best with some carrot or apple juice for a more palatable juice.
- The most nutritious part of the beet is the leafy green portion (especially if eaten young, fresh and crisp) and they can be cooked in many ways, just like spinach or Swiss chard. We tend to get into culinary bad habits, i.e. discarding beet tops" Not only do beet leaves taste great, but one cup of this top portion contains as much as 35 micrograms of vitamin C, which is equivalent to nearly 46% of the total daily requirement of vitamin C for an adult woman. In addition, these magical leaves contain 160 micrograms of calcium, 2.5 micrograms of iron and as much as 1,300 micrograms of potassium.
- Enjoy the nutritional benefits and earthy taste of beet leaves all winter by completely drying them in a food dehydrator and storing in an air-tight container use in recipes just like parsley or basil. (Remember to rinse and pat dry the leaves before dehydrating.) My Grandmother used to do this also to carrot tops, and then sprinkled them in soups and casseroles all winter long.
- Pickled beet root is commonly seen in the traditional Greek salad, but can be used as a side dish or can be shredded raw in salads, too. Don't waste the nutrients in beets: remember to boil beet root just till "fork tender" without peeling off the skin so that most of the nutrients and the nutritional value is retained. After the beets cool, the skins will easily slip off.