As Janet once said, “Gimme a beet!” Ok, so maybe her iconic 80’s hit wasn't referring to the root vegetable, but intentionally or not, I think she was on to something.
Love ‘em or hate ‘em, you can’t deny beets' long standing history and their incredible nutritional value, which is why we love them for pregnant and nursing moms (or anyone for that matter).
Coming from the same plant family as Swiss chard and native to the Mediterranean, beets were first only used for their greens. It wasn’t until centuries later, during the Roman era, that beets were cultivated for their root and even used as an aphrodisiac. In the early 1800's, Napoleon looked to the beet as a replacement for sugar cane, as the supply of sugar cane from the Caribbean had been cut off due to the war. Napoleon issued a decree, allocating funds for farmers to grow sugar beets and the sugar beet industry was born.
History aside, there are some fabulous reasons to love beets. Having a sluggish or down day? Have a beet. Containing betaine and tryptophan (the same wonderful compound found in bananas and turkey), beets have been shown to help relax the mind and contribute to a better sense of well being – who doesn't need more of that?
Beets also tip the scales in Folate (1 cup of raw beets contains of 37% of your RDA) which is essential to women in their child bearing years; Manganese, a mineral that helps form bone and cartilage; and Fiber, which aids in digestion.
As a low calorie veggie it’s also an excellent source of Vitamin C, Potassium, Iron, Magnesium and Choline. Holy WOW!
Functioning as an anti-inflammatory as well as a great detox food, beets also have a unique composition of powerful antioxidants that help contribute to eye and overall nerve tissue health.
So next time you’re visiting your local market, sending your significant other to the grocery store, or ordering from a waiter or waitress, repeat Ms. Jackson’s phrase and say, “Gimme a beet!”