You know about the food guide pyramid, about limiting processed foods, and eating your vegetables to stay healthy. You’ve scoured recipe books and websites looking for new delicious ways to eat well. But something tells me there’s one food you may have been ignoring: beets. Bear with me, because I understand your skepticism. I know they look a little funky and have a weird color. But let me say one thing: if there’s one superfood you should add to your list, it’s the beet. Here’s the 411 on my new favorite vegetable.
- These veggies have a sweet kick: beets are made of healthy carbohydrates, meaning they will not only satisfy your sugar craving, but are an instant energy source as well. Unlike processed foods high in unhealthy carbs, beets have zero trans fat (which can contribute to coronary heart disease) and zero saturated fat (that can lead to cardiovascular disease and certain cancers).
- Talk about an immunity boost: beets have been known to help guard your body against certain cancers and heart disease, relieve constipation, normalize blood pressure, and (when eaten regularly) help prevent varicose veins by keeping the elasticity of your arteries.
- And the benefits just keep on coming: Beets promote antioxidant production in your liver and contain their own antioxidant supply as well, lowering your risk of heart disease and some neurological diseases. Their folate content also boosts tissue growth (the body uses folic acid to produce and maintain cells).
- They’re versatile – you can eat them raw, boiled, steamed, roasted, or sautéed. The easiest preparation for the budding Penn chef? Peel off the skin and use a grater to sprinkle raw beets into your salad. Looking for a more advanced maneuver? Cut up the beets into bite sized chunks and boil for 20-30 minutes, or bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes (sprinkle with olive oil, salt, and pepper first!). Too scared to take matters into your own hands? Marathon Grill (40th and Walnut) offers a Roasted Beet Salad with gorgonzola, fennel, and onion ($8.95), a side order of beets and feta ($3.75), and as a topping on a Control Freak Salad (base price $8.50). You can also add beets to your salad at Gia Pronto (3736 Spruce) for only 85 cents!
No matter how you decide to try them out, I am confident this under-the-radar vegetable will pleasantly surprise you. Bon appétit!
By Melissa Schall