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General Health: Remaking Beets

Blood red and looking like a badly shaped tennis ball with a tail, beets are not high on the favorite foods list. They do show up in Aunt Mabel?s family reunion salad (which ranks right up there with fruitcake), but they are not found very often on dinner plates. Let?s face it, beets are a beaten vegetable.

To beat the beaten image, we have put together a little public relations kit.

The facts: Ancient peoples believed that the color of beets was indicative of their power. Folklore mentions that beets were eaten to aid the blood: Greeks used beets to "cool" blood, and Romans used beets to fight fever.

The Foods and Nutrition Encyclopedia notes that wild beets were gathered for their greens, and that beets were cultivated for their roots around the early Christian era. By the sixteenth century, the red beet had traveled widely and was being used as food by the English.

The facts: One cup of raw beets is high in carbohydrates and low in fat. It contains phosphorus, sodium, magnesium, calcium, iron, and potassium, as well as fiber, vitamins A and C, niacin, and biotin. Beets contain folic acid, which is recommended for pregnant women because it may lower the risk of spina bifida and other neural tube defects in newborn infants.

The facts: According to John Heinerman, in the Encyclopedia of Healing Juices, beets (and beet juices) are a blood-building herb that detoxifies blood and renews it with minerals and natural sugars.

Dr. H.C.A. Vogel, in The Nature Doctor, states that beet juice contains betaine, which stimulates the function of liver cells and protects the liver and bile ducts. Recent studies point to betaine as contributing to the prevention of coronary and cerebral artery diseases. This is because betaine is proving to be a methyl doner.

A methyl doner ensures that homocysteine, a breakdown product of the amino acid methionine, is converted back to methionine. Mildly elevated levels of homocysteine have been found in patients with coronary artery and cerebrovascular diseases. This condition is known as mild hyperhomocysteinemia, and is recognized as a risk factor for premature arteriosclerotic disease (Arteriosclerosis and Thrombosis. Vol. 14(3) March 1994). Folic acid, which beets contain, also helps combat homocysteine.

The facts: Early research in Hungary indicated that beet juice and its powdered form slowed the development of tumors. Heinerman reports that Alexander Ferenczi, M.D., observed beets aiding cancer patients and performed studies that indicated that beets may help animals fight cancer.

More recent research supports this. An article in the February 25, 1996, issue of Cancer Letters reports on an animal study that shows that beetroot has a significant tumor-inhibiting effect. The abstract for the study says, "The combined findings suggest that beetroot ingestion can be one of the useful means to prevent cancer."

Come on beet growers, if you?ve got it, flaunt it!


You can also get your beets from RediBeets.

Carrot juice is often used as a "base" juice in juice combinations, as its natural sweetness often masks unpleasant tastes. Many people mix carrot juice with beet juice for liver health. If it is a little too sweet, add cucumber or parsley juice; these two juices are also considered good for the kidneys and urinary tract. Others add aloe vera for a potently healthful cocktail.

Consider using AIMJust Carrots? for a base of your forays into juice combination!