I think beets are one of the most beautiful root vegetables we have in North America – ruby red, voluptuous and round - these attributes all contribute to their allure, wouldn’t you agree? And, of course, its potency is emphasized by the mark it leaves on your hands when you handle them!
Beets have many bragging points – like the fact they are a great source of fiber, folates (when eaten raw) minerals - manganese, copper, potassium, magnesium, iron and vitamin C and polyphenols, the latter two nutrients, being potent antioxidants.
Interestingly enough, by including beets in our diet, they also have a very ‘grounding’ effect on our body. It only makes sense since they are grown in the ground and the color, red like blood, relates to our first chakra, which in the Ayurvedic system is called our “root” chakra (part of seven main chakras which correlate to our psychological, emotional, and spiritual states of being). You can learn more about this fascinating system by visiting the Chopra Centered Lifestyle website.
Beets are also a wonderful source of ‘healthy’ nitrates (as opposed to the ‘unhealthy’ ones you get in processed and cured meats, etc.) which when consumed, mix with our stomach acid and convert to nitric oxide (NO). If you know anyone who suffers from angina or chest pain, you may be familiar with the Nitro-glycerine spray or pills that are prescribed to relieve the pain. It is this same compound, nitric oxide, which when we consume beets, helps keep our blood vessels relaxed, our blood pressure regulated and immune system in balance. It also decreases the possibility of the blood forming clots.
This summer I stumbled across another way to way include beets in my diet – by making and drinking daily a fermented Russian drink called ‘beet kvass.” Be forewarned, this is not for the weak of heart (pardon the pun) –it has a salty, pungent taste that not everyone will enjoy. However, it has a myriad of health benefits, making it a worthwhile option.
To begin with the obvious, it is a great way to increase nitric oxide into the system. As it is fermented, it is a natural digestive aid to increase healthy bacteria into the gut. Kvass is also an excellent alkalizing tonic for the blood; it cleanses the liver and is a good treatment for kidney stones. This ‘rooted’ drink is also helpful in healing the gallbladder, or important for those without a gallbladder as it helps to thin out the bile. There are studies are showing that drinking beet juice can lower blood pressure within 3 hours of drinking it, and the effects can last for 24 hours. This is incredible!
So if I still have your interest, why not consider making or buying some beet kvass? The drink can be fermented with or without a whey base. Here is a recipe made without whey from The Digester’s Dilemma.
Beet Kvass Made with Brine
Measuring cups and measuring spoons
1 liter or 1 quart Mason jar with lid
1 medium beets, chopped coarsely
1 ½ tsp sea salt
2-3 cups spring water
Mix the water and sea salt in a measuring cup to make the brine. Chop the beets into small cubes. Do not grate. Place the beets in the jar and fill 1/3 of the jar. Pour in the brine water and fill the jar, leaving one inch of space from the top. Place the lid on top and screw it on tightly. Let it ferment for 2-7 days. Turn the jar upside down every day to keep the beets covered until the gas build up inside of the jar.
The Digesters Dilemma - http://thedigestersdilemma.com/truth-nitrates/
Divine health - http://divinehealthfromtheinsideout.com/2011/11/beet-kvass/
Nourished Kitchen - http://nourishedkitchen.com/beet-kvass-recipe/