Beets. I love them. They get a little messy but somehow that adds to their charm. The taste is totally worth the effort, nothing a pair of gloves and a sponge won’t take care of. Not only are they brilliantly sweet and juicy, they’re also great for your heart’s health.
February is American Heart Month, dedicated to bringing awareness to cardiovascular disease. Cardiovascular diseases, including stroke, are our nation’s No. 1 killer. Browse the web and you’ll find ample lists of heart-healthy foods, most of which you probably already include in your diet, like salmon, oatmeal and spinach. But did you know beets have been dubbed the new spinach?
The beet has a long history of cultivation stretching back to the second millennium BC, which also includes a history of medicinal purposes. According to Wikipedia, the Romans used beetroot as a treatment for fevers and constipation, amongst other ailments and Hippocrates advocated the use of beet leaves as binding for wounds. In Europe, beetroot has been used as a treatment for cancer for several centuries. Nowadays beets are still used for their detoxifying properties but studies are also showing beet juice helps lower blood pressure and is a great source of folate, which is necessary for healthy fetal development and for a healthy cardiovascular system.
The most common beets are dark red, but at the farmer’s markets you might find golden beets and even white beets. All have a similar sweet earthy flavor. I like to buy them with the greens attached, more bang for your buck if you will. The greens are also nutritious, containing notable amounts of calcium, iron, magnesium and phosphorus. Just be sure to trim the beets and store them separately. If left attached to the beet root, the greens will continue to draw moisture from the roots drying them out. Use the greens in any recipe that calls for dark leafy greens.
Beets are one of those highly versatile veggies that can be simply roasted as is or added to a risotto. They make a delicious heart healthy vibrant soup or even a filling for ravioli. The options are endless so go on get yourself to the market and play around.
Make sure you let me know what recipe you decide on and how it pans out.