The Beet an Example of Good Carb vs. Bad Carb
By Joan McDaniel April 12, 2014
Simple Carbohydrates and Complex Carbohydrate or Good vs. Bad.
Today I’m going to review the beet. I have begun using it to help me detox so I did a little research but first, I thought I cover the subject of Carbohydrates. Since I found my way to regain my health was to avoid simple carbs and processed food. All that food did was convert itself into sugar devoid of any other nutrient. It gave my body nutrition but only one kind that being sugar. I missed out on all the other badly needed antioxidants. Without proper nutrition the body’s immune system can’t go to war and you get sick. So I said, “I’ll avoid carbs in my diet”. Yet about all I am eating now are carbs are at least complex carbs. So let’s review; just what are Good Carbs vs. Bad Carbs? Then we will talk about the magnificent beet.
We all need Carbohydrates they are what provide our body energy. All fruits and vegetables are carbohydrates and so are candy, white bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, and most sodas and processed Sugar. So why is one good for you like the complex carb and one not as good like the simple carb? More about this a little further down in the article but, it depends on their chemical makeup. The simpler the carb is considered bad for all it contains is sugar.
The complex carb is considered good, not only because it contains natural sugar but other nutrients like natural fiber and vitamins. It takes the body longer to break down and use the complex carb where it breaks the simple carb down almost instantaneously. Read the section Carbohydrates and Sugar inmy article on sugar high sugar low and away we go to see what simple sugars do to the body.
The Nutritious Beet
The beet is a carbohydrate like all vegetables. It has a high sugar content but eaten in moderation it is good for you. Read on and learn more about the magnificent beet.
What Has More Nutrition the Beet Root or the Beet Top?
The many ways to eat red beets
They can be eaten raw when grated, they can be cooked or steamed, pickled and or they can be juiced. For a complete enjoyment of the vegetable eat the whole beet, its root, stems and top each provides major nutrition.
Don’t Toss Away the Best Part of the Beet – the Top.
We all know about the beet root but what about the tops? Don’t just throw them away or for the compost do yourself a nutritional favor and eat the tops. The Green leaves of the beet can contain more important nutrients than the beet itself. You can eat them along with your other greens and they are sugar free.
Did You Know there are Two Kinds of Beets?
They look like turnips
One is called the Sugar beet and the other is called Red beet. The Sugar Beet is white and the Red beet is dark red or even purple. Both beets have a sweet taste.
The sugar beet can measure up to four feet long, and weigh three to five pounds and can produce about five ounces of sugar. About 18 percent of the sugar beet is pure sugar. The sugar beet is less round than the average beet and resembles a turnip.
The Common Red Beet
The red beet is famous for its color which is highly concentrated and known to leave a reddish color residue or pigment. The color simply bleeds and stains wherever it touches. The body doesn’t even absorb the color and may turn your urine pink and your stool red. The red beet has less sugar, 7.6 g in an average sugar beet but still is considered to be the vegetable with the highest amount of natural sugar.
A quick tip is you can use fresh lemon juice to keep the beet from bleeding their natural red color into your salad.
You don’t see many White Beets in the Market
The sugar beet is used by the food industry and is one of the main sources of table sugar (or refined sugar). What we refer to as table sugar comes from either the sugar beet or cane sugar which has been further refined.
The red beet is what you purchase in the store or market. Raw red beets have a crunchy texture that turns soft and buttery when they are cooked.
Now What About those Beet leaves?
Benefits of Beets Greens
Eating the beet green may be the healthiest form of the plant. In fact the leafy tops can have more iron than spinach. They contain less sugar than the beet and more calcium, copper, fiber, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, plant protein, potassium, protein, Vitamin A, B6, C and zinc. Beet greens help strengthen you immune system by stimulating the production of antibodies and white blood cells.
Beet leaves have a lively, bitter taste similar to chard. The traditional Easter European soup called borscht uses beet leaves as the main ingredient. The leaves can be juiced, added to salad, eaten raw, pickled, or sautéed lightly along with other greens. I sometimes seep them in hot water for vegetable stock or for tea.
The Beet itself Is One of the Healthiest Foods
Beets are a unique healing vegetable. Beets contain a variety of unique health-boosting nutrients that you may not be getting elsewhere. Plus, they’re delicious! Some of these health-boosting benefits include;
Lower Your Blood Pressure
Studies have found that the naturally occurring nitrates in beets help lower blood pressure in a matter of hours. The nitrates in beets are converted into nitric oxide in your body. Nitric oxide then helps relax blood and dilate your blood vessels, improving blood flow and lowering blood pressure.
Helps Fight Inflammation
Beets are unique in their source of Polynutrients called betaines. This nutrient helps protects cells, enzymes, and proteins from environmental stress. Beets contain powerful phytonutrients that give beets their deep crimson color. Phytonutrients or antioxidants help the body combat free-radical damage which causes inflammation. In other words it helps replenish oxygen that the free-radical took away.
Rich in Valuable Nutrients and Fiber
Beets are high in immune-boosting vitamin C, fiber, and essential minerals like potassium (essential for healthy nerve and muscle function) and manganese (which is good for your bones, liver, kidneys, and pancreas). Beets also contain the B vitamin folate.
Beets have unique natural components that make them unique and great for detoxifying the body. Your body every night while you sleep naturally detoxes. Beets are a traditional detoxing agent, they are the perfect food for body cleansing. Beets are extremely high in plant ‘flavonoids’ and beta-carotene. The Betalin pigment and flavonoids in beets help the body rid itself and eliminate the broken down toxins. Eating beets along with carrots help stimulate and improve overall liver function.
To make your detox more effective and powerful for the liver, add fresh dandelion leaves and cucumbers to the dish or juice.
What is the Difference between Natural and Refined Sugars?
Processed Sugar and Candy Natural Sugar Vegetables
We are consuming too much sugar. Most of our diet consists of high processed foods that are loaded with refined sugar. We think nothing of eating candy and overconsumption of all forms of sugary food. Let me say again in review; all vegetables and fruit are carbohydrates.
Carbohydrates – Are constructed out of sugar. There are several forms of sugar fruit sugar or fructose, Natural sugar, raw sugar, processed and refined sugar.
Sugars; clockwise from top-left: White refined
Unrefined, brown, and unprocessed cane
Processed sugar is processed to be a pure white table sugar required by the consumer. It gives the product a pure look, gives it greater shelf life and is easier to handle does not clump or stick.
Types of Sugar
It is true to your body doesn’t know the difference – sugar is sugar. When you eat more sugar or carbohydrates than your body can use, the excess energy is converted to fat by your liver. Sugar is Sugar but there are different forms of carbohydrates or sugar. Natural and Raw sugars contain less sugar for they also have other nutrients and vitamins. High Fructose Corn Syrup, Processed or refined have more sugar for the other nutrients and vitamins have been stripped out by the manufacturing process. The manufacture is attempting to produce a product with a long shelf life and without any impurities.
Natural and Raw sugars help control the sugar rushes and cravings created by process or refined sugar. They can be helpful when attempting to break the hold of sugar addiction.
There are various types of sugar derived from different sources.
Brown sugars – A completely refined granulated sugar with the grains coated in molasses to produce a demerara, light or dark sugar. This sugar is used in baked goods, confectionery and other sugary baked items.
High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) is created in – the lab. HFCS is highly processed and has been linked to obesity and many other serious and chronic health problems. HFCS is now added to just about any and all processed foods such as; breads, cakes, candies, cookies, energy drinks, soft drinks and more. It is a corn-based sweetener. It’s about an equal blend of glucose and fructose to make it sweeter. It’s increased used occurred around 1975 because of its low cost at the time of a sugar price war.
Fructose – A natural sugar found in fruit. Some fruits are very low in fructose like lemons and all the berries but some can be very high like apples, and bananas. See my article and table on Fructose.
Natural sugar – All plants produce sugar as a byproduct of photosynthesis. Natural sugars are broken down more slowly by the body and have less calories than the other processed sugars. In addition, fruits and vegetables have other nutrients besides sugar like antioxidants, calcium, fiber, iron, manganese, minerals, organic salts, Vitamins B and C. Natural sugars are a complete food which lead to more stable blood sugar levels.
Vegetables with the highest Natural Sugar in Grams
Sugar Beet 17 – 18
Sugar Cane 13 – 18
Red Beets 7
Corn Sweet 6.2
Onion Sweet 5
White Potato 4.7
Peas Sweet 4.3
Red Pepper Sweet 4.2
Sweet Potato 4.2
Beets have the highest sugar content of all vegetables then corn both of which refined sugar is made. Yet eating the beet adds some major nutrition and health improvement which cannot be ignored. Eating the beet tops as much as you want they don’t contain any sugar.
Processed sugar – is also called “sucrose” is totally devoid of nutrients and has added chemicals. Processed sugar raises blood sugar levels fast. You get strong energy/hunger swings. These hunger swings become cravings. Think of the white pure table sugar and the sugar in candy, candy bars, added in fruit drinks, and sodas.
Raw sugar is straight from the sugar cane or sugar beet plant. Raw sugar isn’t refined and comes directly from the juices of the plant that have been dried to form sugar crystals.
Refined sugar or Table sugar starts with Natural Sugars but after the refining process only the sugar is left. Refined sugar is higher in calories, with added chemicals to remove impurities. It is heated to such a high heat all nutrients are lost. The processing strips away any fiber, minerals, nutrients or vitamins and leaves 100 percent sucrose.
Stevia – Stevia – A sugar replacement. It is not classified as a Natural, Processed, Raw or Refined. It is a naturally sweet plant native to Paraguay that is 30 times sweeter than sugar in its unprocessed form. With more than 1,000 studies and patents on Stevia, it is known to be all-natural, contain zero calories and have a zero glycemic index. Through a patented process the pure glycosides can be extracted from the Stevia leaves and turned into an intensely sweet powder that is 300 times sweeter than sugar. See my article on Stevia.
Sugar is Sugar take all in Moderation
It is true though, sugar is sugar and you need to eat it in moderation. You cannot eat as much as you like Natural, Processed, Raw or otherwise.
Beets! One of the healthiest foods
You can’t beat them for nutrition
Beets are packed with nutrition. They are an excellent source of folate, and research has shown that the red pigment, betacyanin, protects against heart disease and cancer.
Beets are loaded with potassium. Cup for cup, beet roots have about the same amount of potassium as bananas, and beet greens have twice as much.
Add to that the fact the beets are high in fiber, low in calories, and inexpensive, and you have an all around winner as a nutritious addition to your diet.
– Ken McCarthy
The Real Food Channel
The History of the Beet
The original natural beet grew in the wild during prehistoric times in North Africa, Asia and Europe along the seashore. At that time people ate only the green tops and threw the root away. Ancient Romans first cultivated beets to use the roots as food. The tribes that caused the fall of Rome spread eating beets throughout northern Europe where they were first used for animal fodder and later for human consumption. In the 19th century it was discovered that the sugar beet was a source of sugar. Benjamin Delessert invented the sugar extraction process and the first sugar factory was built in Poland. When the British restricted the sugar cane as an blockade against Napoleon and during the Napoleonic Wars, he decreed that the beet was to be used as the primary source of sugar.
The use of beets for sugar spread across Europe and the United States, especially because beets were easier to grow than sugar cane. Beets can be grown in colder climates and take less growing area.
Tips for Preparing Beets
Rinse gently under cold running water. Since beet juice can stain your skin, wearing kitchen gloves is a good idea when handling beets. If your hands become stained during the cleaning and cooking process, simply rub some lemon juice on them to remove the stain.
Cut off the root and the stems leaving about 1 inch of stem and 2 inches of the tap root.
The Healthiest Way of Cooking Beets
The best way to use beets is through juicing. Juicing is very expensive and I have found you have a tendency to add sweet things to make the juice taste nice. I am not a juicer and enjoy chewing my food. But the beet is way too hard to even take a bite out of they need to be softened either by a machine, a grader or cooking. Beets as all vegetables can lose their valuable nutrition benefits when subjected to heat. But you can cook beets lightly.
You can boil Beets.
It has been recommended to cut the beets into quarters to reduce the cooking time and boil in a small amount of water at low heat until a fork passes through the beet. Cook the beet until just tender, it may take up to 30 minutes. I like to chew beets for the taste but I also don’t want to break my teeth. I have found other vegetables that need to be cooked first, asparagus, Cabbage, large carrots, broccoli, green beans, bell peppers, sweet potato, white potato, and the turnip. I am sure there are many more that’s all I can think of right now. I lightly steam most of the hard to chew vegetables.
Once the beets are fork tender, remove the beets with a ladle to save the juice. Rinse the beets under cold filtered water to stop the cooking process. Keep the beet juice; you can make syrup by adding stevia or just for drinking as a juice. I add it as a base to my tea.
Or you can Steam Beets.
To maximize beets nutrition and flavor you can steam then for about 15 minutes. Fill the bottom of the steamer with 2 inches of water and bring to a rapid boil. Add beets and cover. Beets are cooked when you can insert a fork or the tip of a knife into the beet.
Peel beets by setting them on a cutting board and rubbing the skin off with a paper towel. Wearing kitchen gloves will help prevent your hands from becoming stained.
I do not peel my vegetables in most cases. I use the peel as added fiber, many people do not like the taste of the peel.
Grate the raw beet
You can grate beets in your salad and use lemon to help the beets from turning your salad red.