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Tonight I am like a vampire as I sit drinking a goblet of beet juice. The left over water from boiled beets. I'm drinking the beet juice out of a goblet because it's October and Halloweeny and something about a warm red fluid in a wine goblet seems seasonal. Plus I've been watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Call me creepy but I'm wild about beets. I go to the farmer's market and buy 'em by the peck. It always seems like an obscene amount of beets but somehow we blow through 'em. The boys love 'em and nothing makes a young boy or a 30 something man devour his food like likening it to something a monster would eat.

But more's also medicinal. As it turns out, beet juice can lower your blood pressure by, like, ten points.

You didn't think I was just sitting back drinking fake blood just for kicks did you? That's just a perk.

Since there's health care topicality in the air, and I'm eating beets, I'm opening up a discussion of medicinal foods for the night. I'll get the ball rolling with beets...but I'd love to hear your favorite medicinal foods.

Now...I confess I don't personally drink two cups of beet juice a day. Not religiously. We do eat the beets as side dishes once or twice a week, and I make a borscht to die for. Sometimes I grill the beets. But the important thing is, we're getting beets in our diet, and apparently that's really good for us.

The newest candidate for natural blood pressure control is beet juice. A study in the journal Hypertension (online Feb. 4, 2008) showed that two cups (500 ml) of beet juice lowered blood pressure by approximately 10 points. That is better than many prescription drugs. The effect lasts up to 24 hours.

Beets are high in dietary nitrate and increase the amount of nitric oxide in the body. Nitric oxide (NO) helps blood vessels relax, lowering blood pressure. NO has anti-inflammatory activity and discourages blood clot formation.


Is it a replacement for a doctor prescribed blood pressure medicine? You know what? I wouldn't risk it. But it's certainly a help for folks who want to keep blood pressure in check, and it's cool that something so easily acquired and uncontrolled could have such a measurable and positive effect on one of the most vital signs of physical health: blood pressure. And it's only $8 for a peck of beets. And they're food. So...there's that, too.

Now...if you're weird and you don't like beets, and you're thinking to yourself "Wow! I need to eat beets, but I hate beets!" I hear you can get dehydrated beet powder or something it on your cereal or drink it with your coffee or something. I don't know. Go to Google and search for beet powder.

Here are some other supposed health benefits of beets:

   *  Good for heart: Beet fiber helps to reduce cholesterol and triglycerides by increasing the level of HDL. High level of triglycerides increases the risk for heart related problems. The presence of the nutrient betaine lowers the levels of homocysteine in the body which can be harmful to the blood vessels. Thus, consumption of beetroot helps to prevent cardiovascular diseases.
   * Avoids birth defects: Beet is good for pregnant women since it is a source of B vitamin folate which helps in the development of infant’s spinal column. Deficiency of folate could lead to the condition called neural tube defect.
   * Prevent certain cancers: Studies revealed that beet are good in preventing colon cancer, as it contains the pigment betacyaninis, which counteracts cancer. Nitrates used in meats as preservatives, cause the production of nitrosamines compounds in the body resulting in cancer. Studies reveal that beet juice inhibits the cell mutations caused by these compounds. Researchers in Hungary have also discovered that beet juice and its powdered form slows down tumor development.
   * Good for liver: Betaines contained in the beet juice stimulates the functions of liver.
   * Prevent respiratory problems: Beetroot is a source of vitamin C which helps to prevent asthma symptoms. The natural beta-carotene in beetroot also helps to prevent lungs cancer.
   * Boosts energy: Beetroot contains a significant amount of carbohydrates that provides fuel for energy and prolonged sports activities.
   * Prevent cataract: The presence of beta-carotene (vitamin A) helps to prevent age related blindness called cataract.
   * Capillary fragility: The flavonoids and vitamin C in beets help to support the structure of capillaries.
   * Macular degeneration: The beta-carotene present in beetroot avoids macular degeneration.
   * Stroke: Low level of potassium in body increases the risk of stroke. So potassium-rich beetroot is recommended in that aspect.
   * The presence of the mineral Boron in beetroot juice helps in the production of human sex hormones.
   * In ancient times Beetroot was used to cure fever and constipation. In the Middle Ages, beetroot was also used as a remedy for digestive disorders.
   * Beet leaves are also good for curing wounds.


OH! the way...uh...if you're going to start eating beets regularly DON'T FREAK OUT when everything is dark red when know...on the way out. Okay? It's jut beets.

Check below for more delicious and medicinal foods. This is one of those diaries where I suspect the comments will be so much more informative than the article.

Originally posted to Muskegon Critic on Thu Oct 08, 2009 at 08:24 PM PDT.

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