If you are haven’t heard the buzz yet – beetroots are rockstars! Not only are they gorgeous – pigmented in brilliant shades of red, purple and yellow, a sign that they deliver powerful phytonutrients to the cells of your beautiful body, but they are also known as a ‘functional food’ which means that they offer health benefits that boost your well-being beyond just providing nutrients and calories for energy.
Beets are a natural source of nitrates that promote the nitric oxide in your body in what is known as the ‘nitrate – nitrite – nitric oxide pathway.1 The nitric oxide that is produced in this conversion helps to lower blood pressure and counteract oxidative stress and inflammation by acting as a vasodilator, relaxing the smooth muscle of your blood vessels. 2
For you yogi’s and weekend warriors – the compounds in beets have also been shown to improve athletic performance by increasing blood flow and cardiorespiratory endurance, strengthening muscle contractions and the efficiency of your mitochondria that produce ATP – the ‘energy’ currency of your body that fuels your cross over that finish line or flow thru that next vinyasa.3
Low levels of nitric oxide have been linked to hypertension, atherosclerosis, and stroke. 4 Spinach, arugula, beetroots and beet greens are highest in nitrates and epidemiologic studies show a relationship between diets high in veggies and dark leafy greens like these and lower cardiovascular incidence. 1
The beetroot is also packed with polyphenols, ascorbic acid, carotenoids, flavonoids and phytonutrients called betalains. 2 And those beautiful beet greens that most of us toss away are bursting with vitamin A, C and K as well as high in minerals like potassium, iron and magnesium.
I am an advocate of eating whole foods since many of the compounds you need to boost benefits are assisted by other nutrients naturally packaged in that food – kind of like backup singers. The vitamin C and polyphenols found in beets may enhance their “functional” effects, since reactions between nitrate and vitamin C and polyphenols work to generate nitric oxide in the stomach before being absorbed into the blood and muscle tissues 3 (and remember your heart is a muscle!)
But all this really begins as soon as the sweet beet juice meets the bacteria in the saliva in your mouth that facilitates the conversion of nitrate to nitric oxide. It is important to know that using an antiseptic mouthwash has been shown to diminish the positive effects of eating beets by interfering with this conversion process.1
Beets are also high in folate. Folate is a VIP nutrient sitting on the front seat of the concert, serving as a methyl donor supporting metabolic and DNA methylation activity 5 – which is a fancy way of saying – your body needs folate for almost every function it carries out in order to keep you singing.
Add beets to your daily smoothie or green juice. Try this Late Summer Beetroot Salad with berries and balsamic dressing served alongside any main dish or as a main event lunch option.
Late Summer Beetroot Salad with Wild Berries and Balsamic Dressing
1 – 2 servings – 40 minutes (shorter if using precooked beets)
2 medium beet roots scrubbed clean and diced into ¾ -inch cubes
2 cups Watercress, Arugula or Spinach
½ cup shredded carrots
½ cup blackberries, raspberries or blueberries
1 -2 tbsp unsalted roasted pumpkin seeds
1-2 tbsp pecans or other nuts
¼ cup goat cheese – crumbled
½ tbsp organic cold pressed virgin olive oil
- Preheat oven to 400° F. Line a baking pan with parchment paper if you want an easy clean up. Place the beets onto the pan and toss with olive oil and a touch of salt. When the oven is heated baked the beets for 25-30 minutes, turning the beets halfway through to cook evenly. Remove from oven when tender and let cool.
- Rinse and clean your veggies and berries.
- In a bowl over your selected greens arrange the beets, shredded carrots, berries, and goat cheese. Sprinkle with seeds and nuts.
- Drizzle with dressing.
Option: Make it a meal – add 1 cup cooked quinoa, chickpeas or diced chicken.
Tip: If you are a busy rock star yourself (I know most of you are!) and don’t always have time to roast your beets, try Love Beets. I use them all the time. Or roast your beets ahead of time and store in the fridge.
2 tbsp organic cold pressed virgin olive oil or avocado oil
½ tbsp champagne vinegar
½ tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 – 2 tsp chopped “fresh” herbs – thyme, rosemary, dill or mint (choose your favorite and be as generous as you want)
Himalayan sea salt
Combine all ingredients and blend