BeetrootBeets are “the most under appreciated food in the history of eating “, according to Carolyn Pierini, a nutrition consultant at the A4M (American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine) meeting in Hollywood, FL last month. Beets have been used as a source of food for centuries because they can be grown most of the year in a wide variety of climates and have long storability.

Today beets are recognized as a super food and beet powder is an active ingredient in nutritional supplements. Beets are reported to have the ability to boost stamina, improve cognition and support heart health in Drs. Nathan Bryan and Janet Zand, The Nitric Oxide (NO) Solution. Several recipes included in the three day meal plan include beets for those wanting to exercise longer with less effort.

During the A4M conference I could also measure how many beet meals I needed by using saliva strips to indicate my nitric oxide levels. A lozenge made from beetroot, hawthorne berry and other botanicals did help increase the nitric oxide levels in my saliva from low to normal. But I decided that eating beetroot, arugula, spinach, kohlrabi, endive and parsley offered a more tasty way to enhance my NO factor.

Beetroot nitrate is the source of nitric oxide and it penetrates cell membranes sending signals to every cell in the body. Research demonstrates that NO gets blood flowing and makes platelets less sticky plus brain cells communicate better mood and neurological function. Studies reported in Hypertension indicated blood pressure was substantially reduced after drinking about 2 cups beetroot juice.

Nitric oxide has been the subject of over 130,000 published scientific papers since its discovery in the 1980’s by 3 scientists who were later awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1998. NO is the master regulator of blood flow which affects every organ and tissue in the body.

A plant based diet of fruits and vegetables delivers more nitrates into the body which are converted to nitrite by bacteria. Beets are an amazing source of concentrated nitrate.

Beet benefits are also found in the compound betaine predominately from pigments in the beetroot. When beets are cooked in water, some loss of betaine results so roasting beets in the oven is a healthier way to save the nutritional benefits. Peeling and slicing them without cooking is popular with raw food advocates. This recipe can be a delightful salad whether it is made with cooked, roasted or raw beetroots.

Marinated Beets with Goat Cheese

4 small beetroots, peeled
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
4 ounces goat cheese

Thinly slice beetroots. Combine oil, vinegar and honey. Pour over beets. Marinate at least 1 hour or overnight. Place beet slices on serving plate. Top with thyme and goat cheese. Makes 4 servings.

Calories per serving 79
Protein 7g
Carbohydrates 10g
Fat   4g
Sodium 68 mcg