Get Healthy: Beet Yourself Up!

beet

That is, of course, not a typo in the title.  If you missed the misspelling, don’t get too down on yourself.  Reach for a beet!  Mental health benefits are just one of this wonder root’s many advantages.

The beetroot, as it is officially known, is usually easily distinguishable by the deep red color of its edible taproot and leafy green stalks which can also be consumed.  Beta vulgaris is the most common species of beet and its own roots can be traced back to ancient Mesopotamia.

Beets are hard to beat as a crop as they are especially hearty, and can withstand near freezing temperatures as well as heat.  They generally thrive in cooler temperatures of between 60° and 65° F and can be harvested year round.  Generally, beets are prime for picking when the roots are 1 to 2 inches in diameter and the stalks under 6 inches high.  If allowed to grow much larger, they become fibrous and tough.

Ideal for short and long term storage, beets should be clipped with at least one inch of greens stem still attached.  They’ll stay fresh in the refrigerator for about a week in this condition and if you’re intending to keep them longer, they do well in cool, dry environments.  Make sure to clean them thoroughly beforehand.  Beets are also great canned or pickled.

The culinary possibilities of beets are vast, since they are an extremely versatile food.  As previously mentioned, both the root and the greens can be eaten, a condition which makes them great for use in appetizers, main courses, side dishes and desserts.  They are commonly eaten as a salad or pickled, but recipes include everything from risotto and dips, to pancakes and even brownies.  Beet juice is also a favorite in its own right, not to mention the traditional Russian dish borscht, or beet soup.  Regardless of the end product, beets should be washed free of dirt during preparation.

Nutritionally, beets are packed full of nutrients and vitamins that are incredibly beneficial.  Especially high in B vitamins and natural sugar (which your body takes longer to process), they make an excellent energy food and are a great choice for cleansing the liver.  The betaine, a nutrient commonly found in anti-depressants, and relaxing tryptophan are great for enhancing your mood.  Beets have even been proven as an effective aphrodisiac!

You might also be surprised to learn that boiled beet water has been known to be a tonic for dandruff.  Really, what can’t they do?  For whatever’s ailing you, it’s never a bad idea to beet yourself up!

(photo courtesy of Zigzagmtart/Dreamstime.com)

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