Beets are also rich in a substance called betaine that reduces homocysteine levels (elevated homocysteine levels correlate with having a higher risk of cardiovascular disease). Betaine may also aid in digestion and improve your metabolism, the rate at which you burn calories. Eating two cooked beets gives you 40 calories and 2 grams of fiber, plus magnesium, potassium, and folate. Beets are also rich in plant sterols. When you eat beets, you reap the following benefits:
They protect your heart. The combination of folate, fiber, betaine, and sterols helps to protect your heart by reducing homocysteine levels and keeping cholesterol levels in check. And, according to an article published in 2006 in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, betalains prevent oxidative damage to blood cholesterol. They may prevent a birth defect. Beets are rich in folate. Mothers-to-be who are deficient in folate are more likely to give birth to babies born with spina bifida, a defect of the spinal cord and vertebrae. They fight metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a combination of obesity, elevated cholesterol, elevated glucose (blood sugar), and high blood pressure. People with metabolic syndrome have a high risk of cardiovascular disease. According to an article published in 2008 in The Journal of Nutrition, research subjects with metabolic syndrome had lower concentrations of betaine in their blood. Beets are rich in betaine.
Look for fresh beets in the produce section of your grocery store. They should be a deep red color with smooth skins. Choose small- to mediumsized beets for the best flavor. Avoid beets that have damage to the skin, such as bruising or spots, and those that appear to be dry and shriveled. Store your beets in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.You can cook red beets and serve them as a side dish, or you can grate raw beets over salads and soups. To cook beets, first wash the skin gently. Then cut off the greens (you can use them as salad greens), but leave an inch or two of the stem attached to the beets. Don’t peel the beets until after they’re cooked. Simply boil them until they’re tender when you pierce them with a fork.When you roast vegetables in your oven, add some beets for variety, flavor, and color. You can also purchase heat-and-serve beets in cans or pickled in vinegar.Eating large quantities of beets may result in pink or reddish-colored urine.
Don’t be alarmed; this comes from the red pigments in beets and is harmless.