Look at that beet. Really look at it.
During the daytime, this beet has absorbed rays of golden sunlight, while also resting in the shade. At night, this beet has flourished in the moonlight under the glitter of the stars. The soil has nourished and supported this beet, while its thirsty roots drank in the same water that sustains you and me.
So, poetically speaking, this one single beet holds within its roots the entire earth and the sky, accepting the kiss of raindrops from the clouds while anchored firmly in the ground. Because of the miraculous yet natural process, there is incredible nutritional value in beets—and here’s a quick overview of the health benefits of beets by the prestigious Mayo Clinic.
Just a Bit of Nutrition Science
Beets are one of the world’s healthiest vegetables in part because they are a unique source of betalains. These are a type of phytonutrients, which are plant substances believed to aid in human health and disease prevention. More specifically, beets contain betanin and vulgaxanthin, among others, and these are shown to:
provide antioxidants, substances that may help to protect body cells against free radicals, with antioxidants believed to help with heart health, and in fighting cancer and other diseases
offer anti-inflammatory benefits, which can “reduce heart disease risk, keep existing cardiac problems in check, reduce blood triglycerides and blood pressure, and soothe tender and stiff arthritic joints”
support detoxification, naturally removing toxins from your body, including from your liver; betaine has even been shown to reduce liver size in people with diabetes
Although you can get betalain in other ways, such as in rhubarb or in chard stems, the peel and flesh of beets offer an “unexpectedly great opportunity for these health benefits.”
Plus, you can benefit from the lutein/zeaxanthin form of carotenoid phytonutrients (say that quickly ten times!) by eating beet greens. In fact, just one cup of raw beet greens can contain more than 275 lutein micrograms. You can also get lutein in good quantity by eating yellow beets, as well as yellow carrots—but we find it astounding that all of this nutritional goodness is contained in something that many people throw away (more about reducing food waste later).
Here’s another beautiful thing about beets: they are jam-packed with nutrients while being low in calories. So, no worries! Have another beet.
More About This Vibrant Root Vegetable
That’s what Consumer Reports calls beets—the vibrant root vegetable—and we have to say we agree. Nutritional/health benefits of beets mentioned in their article include how they are:
rich in folate and fiber, magnesium and vitamin C, calcium and iron
full of beta carotene, which in turn is chock-full of vitamin A, a vitamin that’s connected to eye health, as well as to a reduced risk of breast cancer
a source of nitrates, which helps to widen blood vessels, which can play a role in reducing blood pressure and boosting people’s performance while exercising, including in power and speed
so rich in fiber that it slows down the absorption of the sugars that are naturally in beets
The report also calls beets a “surprisingly versatile vegetable,” and they add a piece of advice that’s close to the hearts of Farmer Lee Jones and Culinary Vegetable Institute Chef Jamie Simpson alike: “Don’t” they say, “toss the tops. When you buy fresh beets, you’re essentially getting two vegetables in one.”
This recommendation dovetails perfectly with our focus on reducing food waste and on Chef Jamie’s zero waste kitchen. Plus, research has shown that the beet green is actually the part of the plant with the most nutrients. Just one cup provides 15 percent of the daily recommended amount of iron and, while turnip greens, mustard greens and beet greens are all outstanding sources of calcium, it’s only the greens of the beets that also serve as an excellent source of magnesium—nearly 25% of the recommended daily amount in one single serving.
Role in a Heart Healthy Diet
Already in this post, we’ve referenced how beets can be a key part of a heart healthy diet, and the Mayo Clinic provides more backup. First, they quoted multiple studies showing how beets can lower blood pressure “significantly” in just a few hours. They note that it’s more effective for systolic blood pressure (the heart-contracting kind) than diastolic (when the heart is relaxing). They also share that the effect may be stronger if you eat raw beets.
The effect is not permanent, so eating fresh beets one time would only a temporary solution. They therefore suggest “regular consumption” for a long-term impact.
Here’s more. Inflammation can play a role in heart disease, and the Mayo Clinic cites several studies that show how eating beets may be able to fight that inflammation. Studies to date have focused on lab rats, so more information is needed about its impact on people, but results are promising.
Additional Health Benefits of Beets
Because of the dietary fiber found in beets, they can assist in digestion and help to prevent chronic health conditions. Plus, because nitrates found in beets dilate blood vessels, they can also boost blood flow to the brain, which could help to protect people from developing dementia. The blood flow that can be improved through nutrients found in beets can be especially effective in the brain’s frontal lobe; this is the portion that’s connected with decision making and working memory.
History of Beets as Food and Medicine
According to FoodRevolution.com, in the past, people may have divided how they used beets, with the greens consumed as food and the roots used for medicinal reasons. This may have been true in numerous places around the globe, from the ancient civilizations of Babylon, Greece, and Rome, as well as in certain areas in North Africa—although the Father of Medicine, Hippocrates, also saw value in beet greens to help heal wounds.
In today’s times, there is a growing food as medicine movement, and we made that a focus of a panel at our
2018 Roots Culinary Conference.
Without question, fresh vegetables play a key role in healthy diets, including the nutritious beet. As Farmer Lee often says, “You can pay the farmer—or pay the doctor.” And, because eating your vegetables can be a wonderfully flavorful experience, choosing the farmer makes a lot more sense.
Farmacy at The Chef’s Garden®
Healthy eating can and should be pleasurable, a true treat for the palate. To grow farm-fresh vegetables that are incredibly flavorful while also bursting with nutrition, it all starts with the soil.
Healthy soil, after all, means healthy plants, which equals healthy food for people.
Healthy soil is at the heart of what we do, with our regenerative farming philosophy putting a focus on leaving the soil even better than how we found it. The three branches of soil health are:
Physical health: The four elements of soil—clay, sand, silt, and loam—need to be in the right proportions so that the soil will hold water and nutrients, and so the particles can properly bind together. Here’s more about soil health at The Chef’s Garden.
Biological health: Diversity of species is vital for healthy soil, as well as the amounts and types of biological activity taking place in it. In rich, healthy soil, there’s a wide range of life, with everything having a purpose.
Chemical health: Minerals also need to be in the correct balance, in the right relationship with one another. That’s why we use soil balancing to maximize mineral content so that our crops can get what they need, right when they need it.
Optimal soil health can occur when all three elements–physical, biological and chemical–are in balance with one another. That’s where soil testing comes in and then appropriate soil management based upon the results. That’s why we have our own research lab on site.
Farm-Fresh Beets on the Menu
For example, in Cincinnati, Ohio, Chef Chris Montgomery is offering beets in a rainbow of ways, using different cooking methods to highlight this root vegetable’s versatility. Delicious dishes include the following:
Fresh beet and goat cheese salad: This includes baby beets from The Chef’s Garden, roasted with olive oil and salt. The beets are then wrapped in foil for a quick peel, then tossed with lemon oil and blueberry balsamic vinaigrette before being placed on farm-fresh greens with almond goat cheese croquette.
His 18-hour short rib: He uses a grated red beet rallado, using microgreen-sized Bull’s Blood.
Fried, dried and pickled beets: These are a diner favorite at Quarter Bistro, and Chef Chris also loves to dehydrate and then fry beets to bring out their crispy side, ideal for a crunchy, unexpected garnish.
Thirsty? Liz Studer, the wine steward at the Culinary Vegetable Institute, has a Beet Blush Punch recipe that uses the following ingredients:
.75 oz Drambuie
.5 oz Scotch
.75 oz Beet Juice
.75 oz Cranberry Juice
.5 oz Fresh Lemon Juice
.5 oz Lemon Verbena Syrup
1 oz. Ginger Beer float
Lemon Verbena sprig
You can find the complete punch recipe here.
Then there is the uniquely delicious Sunchoke Custard, Macerated Beets and Fried Spinach recipe that uses these ingredients:
1 and 1/4 cup Sunchoke Puree (+2 Tbsp Water) (1# Sunchokes should be plenty)
1 tsp Agar-Agar
1 cup Sugar
5 Large Eggs
3 sticks Soft Butter, cut into little squares.
2 Medium-Sized Beets, washed well (golden or red)
And, here’s the recipe!
Farm-Fresh Beets from The Chef’s Garden
Beets truly are one of the world’s most versatile root vegetables! At The Chef’s Garden, you can choose from:
Badger Flame Beets: mild, sweet, smooth, delicious—and, stunning in hue! The flesh of these beets is flame-like orange, yellow and red, gorgeous in ribbons.
Beet Blush: You can add bright touches of yellow and red to your dishes and plates, with these edible leaves being tender, flavorful and aromatic. Colors range from sunrise yellow to sunset red.
Beet of the Night: These vivid leaves, red and yellow, offer up a mildly sweet flavor and crunchy texture to your creative dishes. They also look attractive on the plate.
Bull’s Blood: This rare beet variety provides a sweet, nutty flavor, with deep red leaves that provide a flavor that’s sweeter than radicchio. Leaves are tender and crunchy, and they add a pop of visual beauty to plates.
Candy Stripe Beets: Oh, so sweet with an earthy finish! These beets are crunchy when raw, tender and smooth when cooked. Bright colors will attract the eye—and there are also Candy Beet Blush Leaves.
Gold Trimmed Beets: If you’re looking for a fresh beet that isn’t as sweet, these golden beets have a flavor that’s reminiscent of spinach. The texture is crunchy.
Mixed Beets: You can get the absolute best of the day’s harvest, with a mixture of the farm-fresh varieties that we sustainably farm.
Red Beets: Sweet and deliciously nutty, the redness of these beets attracts the eye, while its naturally sweet flavor pleases the palate.
Daily, we hand-harvest, pick-to-order and ship product to you overnight, including our farm-fresh beets, to assure that you receive the freshest, most vibrant and flavorful produce available. This is our efficiently shipped Earth to Table® promise that ensures ultimate freshness, incredible flavor and prolonged shelf-life, resulting in less waste for your business.
We encourage you to compare our direct-from-the-farm products to those with a local supplier who is potentially fulfilling your order with products sourced elsewhere and stored for days in a warehouse before they are delivered to your door. We are confident that you will find our fresh vegetables, microgreens, herbs and edible flowers to be the freshest and most flavorful anywhere.
Let us be your personal farmer. Contact us today!