Beets

Beets are an ancient, prehistoric food that grew naturally along coastlines in North Africa, Asia, and Europe. Originally, it was the beet greens that were consumed; the sweet red beet root that most people think of as a “beet” today wasn’t cultivated until the era of ancient Rome.

By the 19th century, however, the natural sweetness of beets came to be appreciated and beets began to be used as a source of sugar (reportedly, Napoleon was responsible for declaring that beets be used as a primary source of sugar after the British restricted access to sugar cane).

Today, sugar beets (unfortunately often genetically modified) are a common raw material used for the production of sugar, but many people are missing out on including them in whole form in their regular diet.

There’s good reason to do so, in fact, as beets contain a variety of unique health-boosting nutrients that you may not be getting elsewhere. Plus, they’re delicious!

Why Eat Beets? 6 Top Reasons

Beet roots have always been included in my most recommended vegetables list, although they are in the “use sparingly” category because of their high carbohydrate levels.

Although beets have the highest sugar content of all vegetables, most people can safely eat beet roots a few times a week (and their greens in unlimited quantities), enjoying not only their sweet, earthy flavor but also their powerhouse nutrients that may improve your health in the following ways.

1.Lower Your Blood Pressure

Drinking beet juice may help to lower blood pressure in a matter of hours. One study found that drinking one glass of beet juice lowered systolic blood pressure by an average of 4-5 points.3

The benefit likely comes from the naturally occurring nitrates in beets, which are converted into nitric oxide in your body. Nitric oxide, in turn, helps to relax and dilate your blood vessels, improving blood flow and lowering blood pressure.

2.Boost Your Stamina

If you need a boost to make it through your next workout, beet juice may again prove valuable. Those who drank beet juice prior to exercise were able to exercise for up to 16 percent longer.4 The benefit is thought to also be related to nitrates turning into nitric oxide, which may reduce the oxygen cost of low-intensity exercise as well as enhance tolerance to high-intensity exercise.

3.Fight Inflammation

Beets are a unique source of betaine, a nutrient that helps protects cells, proteins, and enzymes from environmental stress. It’s also known to help fight inflammation, protect internal organs, improve vascular risk factors, enhance performance, and likely help prevent numerous chronic diseases.5 As reported by the World’s Healthiest Foods:6

“[Betaine’s]… presence in our diet has been associated with lower levels of several inflammatory markers, including C reactive protein, interleukin-6, and tumor necrosis factor alpha. As a group, the anti-inflammatory molecules found in beets may eventually be shown to provide cardiovascular benefits in large-scale human studies, as well as anti-inflammatory benefits for other body systems.”

4.Anti-Cancer Properties

The powerful phytonutrients that give beets their deep crimson color may help to ward off cancer. Research has shown that beetroot extract reduced multi-organ tumor formations in various animal models when administered in drinking water, for instance, while beetroot extract is also being studied for use in treating human pancreatic, breast, and prostate cancers.7

5.Rich in Valuable Nutrients and Fiber

Beets are high in immune-boosting vitamin C, fiber, and essential minerals like potassium (essential for healthy nerve and muscle function) and manganese (which is good for your bones, liver, kidneys, and pancreas). Beets also contain the B vitamin folate, which helps reduce the risk of birth defects.

6.Detoxification Support

The betalin pigments in beets support your body’s Phase 2 detoxification process, which is when broken down toxins are bound to other molecules so they can be excreted from your body. Traditionally, beets are valued for their support in detoxification and helping to purify your blood and your liver.

Eat Your Beet Greens Too

If you simply throw away the green leafy tops to your beets, you’re doing yourself a disservice, as these are among the healthiest part of the plant.
Besides containing important nutrients like protein, phosphorus, zinc, fiber, vitamin B6, magnesium, potassium, copper, and manganese, beet greens also supply significant amounts of vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, and iron.

Beet greens actually have even more iron than spinach (another leafy green in the same botanical family) as well as a higher nutritional value overall than the beetroot itself. For more details, read “What Are Beet Greens Good For?” You may be surprised to learn, for instance, that research shows beet greens may:

  • Help ward off osteoporosis by boosting bone strength
  • Fight Alzheimer’s disease
  • Strengthen your immune system by stimulating the production of antibodies and white blood cells

If you’ve never tried beet greens before, don’t let them intimidate you. They can be added raw to vegetable juice or sautéed lightly right along with other greens like spinach and Swiss chard.

There are many ways to enjoy beets:

  • Grate them raw over salads
  • Add them to your fresh vegetable juice
  • Lightly steam them
  • Marinate them with lemon juice, herbs, and olive oil
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Foods to Freeze

15 Foods to Freeze in Ice Cube Trays

Here are 15 foods perfectly suited for freezing in an ice cube tray.
1. Homemade stock

The perfect way to store a small amount of stock (about two tablespoons per well) to use for reheating leftovers or making a sauce.

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Bell Peppers

9 Incredible Health Benefits of Bell Peppers

The appeal of bell peppers goes way beyond their stunning good looks. Here’s a short list of the good things they can do for your health:
  • Bell peppers are low in calories! So, even if you eat one full cup of them, you get just about 45 calories. Bonus: that one cup will give you more than your daily quota of Vitamin A and C!
  • They contain plenty of vitamin C, which powers up your immune system and keeps skin youthful.  The highest amount of Vitamin C in a bell pepper is concentrated in the red variety.
  • Red bell peppers contain several phytochemicals and carotenoids,  particularly beta-carotene, which lavish you with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits.
  • The capsaicin in bell peppers has multiple health benefits. Studies show that it reduces ‘bad’ cholesterol, controls diabetes, brings relief from pain and eases inflammation.
  • If cooked for a short period on low heat, bell peppers retain most of their sweet, almost fruity flavor and flavonoid content, which is a powerful nutrient.
  • The sulfur content in bell peppers makes them play a protective role in certain types of cancers.
  • The bell pepper is a good source of Vitamin E, which is known to play a key role in keeping skin and hair looking youthful.
  • Bell peppers also contain vitamin B6, which is essential for the health of the nervous system and helps renew cells.
  • Certain enzymes in bell peppers, such as lutein, protect the eyes from cataracts and macular degeneration later in life.

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Antioxidants

You hear so much talk about antioxidants in the health, wellness and nutrition worlds. It seems these days that the word gets thrown around a lot without much clarity on what it really refers to. Generally speaking, most of us know that antioxidants are good for us (that’s certainly  been drilled in), but do you actually know what antioxidants are, what they do, and where you can find them?

It’s one of those health terms that is surrounded by a lot of confusion, mystery, and even a lot of assumptions. Thankfully, today I’m hoping to clear some of that confusion up, and make you antioxidant-aware with this in-depth look at what antioxidants are, what they do, and most importantly, where you can find them…

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