Beets, beets the magical treats. The more you eat the more you can perform superhuman feats! 1

Summer is now over and with that not only comes, for many, the melancholic demeanor associated with changes in daylight, weather and being back behind the four walls of the educational institutions (why I don’t know, I LOVE school!!), but this time of year also brings a similar composure to fresh food freaks of certain in-season produce as the harvests begin to change. Okay so I am being a little dramatic with the level of hysteria of negative emotion but I digress as it makes for a better picture for my readers ;). You can find a list here of a typical summer harvest of produce in Ontario. Back to the relevance of this blog post title and my ramblings…

Beets. Typically this word may bring up an image of Thanksgiving dinner or just dinner in general at Grandma’s house and most just see these circular crimson knobbies as a less than stellar tasting “old people” food. Well, let me just let you in on your first little secret as to why you should totally be scoopin’ up and gettin’ down, droppin’ da beats with beets (:p), how do you think those “old” people got to their age? I am sure the years added had something to do with having some beets in their diets and below I will further enlighten you as to why.

                                     Hey look! Dr. Dre is droppin’ beats with beets —–>

Mmmkay now back to reality.

Beets have been getting a ton of well deserved positive press lately for their health and performance enhancing benefits. Some of such of this touting is the March 2012 study published in the British Journal of Nutrition, showing that beetroot juice consumption has a significant hypotensive and cardioprotective effect (1). Let’s not forget about the bioactive agents or nutrients and antioxidants (betaine and polyphenols), which have a wide range of physiologic effects to reduce the occurrence of complications and postoperative mortality if consumed regularly before surgery. And how about the liver-protecting properties of beets (2). Now what about some of the benefits in relation to athletic performance you ask? Well I am sure that you have seen or at least heard of the various sports nutrition products out there claiming the benefits of nitrates and how their nitric oxide supplements which are purported to work on the  same way of the pharm. and medical methods of the nitrate–nitrite–nitric oxide pathway but totally don’t. Some of these  performance enhancing effects  are greater vasodilation (your veins basically “widen and open up”) to allow more nutrients into your muscles and system, hence improved endurance and better “pumps” as the gym rat beefies might call it. The thing that most of these companies, pharm. or sport supplements don’t relay to you in regards to the benefits of taking nitrates, is that supplementing with nitrates has been linked to adverse health effects, except when consumed in the form of vegetables such as dunh-duh-da-da drum roll please…with beets! Besides, no supplement will give you the same and safe health benefits, period. You can go here to learn more about some of the other self-“medicating” nitrate/NO dangers out there in the sports performance world and why eating beets, beetroot drinking beetroot is far better than any “supplement” out there for safe performance enhancement.

Aside from the aforementioned pluses of beets, these bulbous bits of goodness are also great in general for reducing oxidative damage or free radicals and are great for adding to your post-workout meal for it’s naturally occurring sugar content. Now I will say this little negatory about beets; your pee may turn a reddish tinge (hematuria -hema means red and uria is urine) if you eat a lot of them which is a harmless, they naturally contain oxalic acid which may aggravate those prone or who have kidney stones and beets can easily stain your clothes and temporarily your skin, hence why it was used and is making a comeback in natural makeup products like blushes and lipsticks. I think those small tidbits are far outweighed by the benefits for most though wouldn’t you say 😉 . Now that you know a little more about why beets are making a major ummm…comeback let’s call it, you may be wondering just how to incorporate them into your diet. Well la di da below you will find the nutrition facts of beets and a badass nutrient dense recipe that actually tastes awesome too! Try it out, enjoy and spread the good wealth of health as it serves 8 😉

Beets (Beta vulgaris), fresh, raw,
Nutrition value per 100 g
(Source: USDA National Nutrient data base)
Principle Nutrient value Percentage of RDA
Energy 45 cal 2%
Carbohydrates 9.56 g 7%
Protein 1.61 g 1%
Total Fat 0.17 g 0.5%
Cholesterol 0 mg 0%
Dietary Fiber 2.80 g 7%
Folates 109 µg 27%
Niacin 0.334 mg 2%
Pantothenic acid 0.155 mg 3%
Pyridoxine 0.067 mg 5%
Riboflavin 0.057 mg 4%
Thiamin 0.031 mg 2.5%
Vitamin A 33 IU 1%
Vitamin C 4.9 mg 8%
Vitamin E 0.04 mg 0.5%
Vitamin K 0.2 µg 0%
Sodium 78 mg 5%
Potassium 325 mg 7%
Calcium 16 mg 1.5%
Copper 0.075 mg 8%
Iron 0.80 mg 10%
Magnesium 23 mg 6%
Manganese 0.329 mg 14%
Zinc 0.35 mg 3%
Carotene-ß 20 µg
Betaine 128.7 mg
Lutein-zeaxanthin 0 µg

Here is a great recipe from Whole Foods Market that not only gives you the benefits from the beets, but you get the benefits of the brain boosting omega 3’s from the salmon, the anti-inflammatory, heart healthy benefits from the olive oil (and the salmon), and the adrenal supporting benefits from the sea salt.

Spice-Crusted Roast Salmon with Ginger Beets

Serves 8
  • 2 1/2 pounds beets (about 8 medium), peeled and cut into wedges
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon finely chopped peeled fresh ginger
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1/2 teaspoon pink peppercorns
  • 2 teaspoons coriander seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
  • 1 whole side (about 3 pounds) salmon, skin on
  • 3 tablespoons coarsely chopped chives
  • 3 tablespoons chopped parsley leaves

Preheat oven to 450°F. Place beets in on a rimmed baking sheet large enough to hold them in a single layer. Sprinkle with the ginger, fine sea salt and 1 tablespoon of the oil and toss to coat. Roast in the middle of the oven, stirring once or twice during cooking, until tender and lightly browned, 25 to 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, place black peppercorns in a spice grinder and pulse once or twice until cracked, or place them on a cutting board and crack with a rolling pin. Add pink peppercorns, coriander seeds, rosemary, and coarse sea salt; continue to pulse or crush until the mixture is very coarsely ground. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper, grease the paper, and place salmon on top; fold the thin tail section under if the fillet is too large for the baking sheet. Brush salmon with remaining 2 teaspoons oil and sprinkle with peppercorn mixture. After beets have roasted for about 15 minutes, place salmon on the top rack of the oven and roast until just lightly pink in the center, about 15 minutes.

Loosen salmon from the parchment with a spatula, then use 2 large spatulas to transfer salmon to a platter. Spoon beets around salmon and sprinkle them with chives and parsley

Nutritional Info:

Per Serving:

  • 280 calories (90 from fat)
  • 11g total fat
  • 2g saturated fat
  • 80mg cholesterol
  • 560mg sodium
  • 9g carbohydrate (3g dietary fiber, 6g sugar)
  • 36g protein
1. Hobbs DA, Kaffa N, George TW, Methven L, Lovegrove JA. (March 2012). Blood pressure-lowering effects of beetroot juice and novel beetroot-enriched bread products in normotensive male subjects. British Journal of Nutrition  14:1-9.
2. Váli L, Stefanovits-Bányai E, Szentmihályi K, Fébel H, Sárdi E, Lugasi A, Kocsis I, Blázovics A. (February 2007). Liver-protecting effects of table beet (Beta vulgaris var. rubra) during ischemia-reperfusion. Nutrition 23(2):172-8.

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