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The health benefits of beets: five ways they help you

Beets can make you healthier, from pushing out toxins to boosting folate in pregnant women.

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Photograph by Julie Daniluk R.H.N.

See five health benefits of beets and read all the reasons to add more of them to your diet:

1. Beets literally push out toxins
Beets contain a group of phytonutrients called betalains that support detoxification through an important phase 2 detox step in the liver. When your liver is able to detoxify chemicals and toxins more effectively, then your body is better able to balance hormones, cholesterol and energy levels.

2. Beets are a fantastic choice for pregnancy
Beets provide 35 percent of your daily needs of the B vitamin folate, which can prevent birth defects. While you are at it, enjoy the entire plant. The iron in the beet greens ensure good blood building for the baby and more energy for Mom!

3. Beets have anti-inflammatory properties
Nutritional researcher, Monica Reinagel, the creator of the IF (Inflammation Factor) Rating system has found beet greens to be strongly anti-inflammatory and gives them a rating of 274. In comparison, almonds have a rating of 56 and a carrot 60 so you can see how powerfully anti-inflammatory beet greens are!

4. Beets are a good source of calcium and vitamin K
The green tops of beets contain vitamins and minerals such as calcium and vitamin K that help to prevent bone loss. Don’t just throw them away!

5. Beets contain the highest plant source of betaine
They contain an amazing 127 mg in every 100 gram serving. A study by Greek researchers shows that betaine lowers C-reactive protein levels, a marker of heart disease and chronic inflammation.

Who knew that a sweet beet could do so much?

Roasted Maple Beet Salad
16 small beets (red, gold or both – about 1-1/2 lbs)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons real maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon unrefined salt
1/2 cup shelled walnuts
1/2 cup black olives
12 ounces baby spinach leaves

Dressing
1/3 cup walnut oil
1/3 cup live cultured yogurt
3 tablespoons orange juice
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Salt to taste

Instructions
1. I suggest small beets to roast because it shortens the cooking time and there is less prep work. Cut stem off about 1/2 inch from the top of the beet and wash well, but leave skin on to lock in flavour.

2. Coat beets in a small amount of olive oil and maple syrup and place in a shallow baking pan. Put into the oven at 350 degrees. Every 15 minutes give them a stir to coat while roasting for 45 minutes.

3. To check if they are done, insert the tip of a sharp knife into the beet. Remove while still a little crisp in the center. Peel off the skin or if they were organically grown, leave the skin on for maximum nutrition. Quarter each beet and set aside.

4. To make the dressing, whisk together the walnut oil, yogurt and orange juice until well blended. Slowly whisk in the lemon juice, add a pinch of sea salt and taste for seasoning. Adjust if necessary.

5. Divide the baby spinach between 6 salad plates. Mound a serving of beets in the center of each plate and scatter the garlic stuffed olives and walnuts on top. Whisk the dressing a final time and drizzle about 2 tablespoons over each salad.

Nutritionist Julie Daniluk hosts the Healthy Gourmet, a reality cooking show that looks at the ongoing battle between taste and nutrition. Her book, Meals That Heal Inflammation, advises on allergy-free foods that both taste great and assist the body in the healing process.

-Article originally published October 13, 2010.

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