kencko | Why we love...Beets

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Why we love...Beets

We’re heading down to Schrute Farms for this ingredient spotlight: all hail the mighty beet! Find out why this unsung superfood deserves a regular place in your smoothie rotation.

Love ‘em or hate ‘em: nobody is indifferent about beets. They have a distinctive earthiness that’s hard to disguise. But if you do learn to love them, these colorful roots will repay the favor. Packed with all sorts of nutritious compounds that your body needs, the blood-red beet is particularly associated with benefits to your blood and circulatory system.

Nutritional Highlights

One large beet typically contains:

  • 20% of your recommended daily intake for folate (vitamin B9)
  • 16% RDI for manganese
  • High levels of antioxidants
  • Around 3.5g of fiber (same as a cup of brown rice)
  • High levels of inorganic nitrates 

What it does for you

Beets are high in folate, the natural form of vitamin B9, which is essential for red blood cell formation. It’s also needed for fetal brain and spine development - so if you’re pregnant and craving beetroot, go to town! You’ll also be consuming a good source of manganese, a trace mineral that is involved in a whole range of processes in our bodies including forming connective tissue, bones, and sex hormones, metabolizing nutrients, and proper blood clotting. 

The antioxidants particular to red beets are called betalains - a natural pigment which gives the roots their vivid color, and which is found in only a few other, much more exotic food sources (namely amaranth, prickly pear, and red dragon fruit). Orange and yellow beets get their color from betaxanthins, a different class of antioxidant. All antioxidants work to fight free radicals in the body and prevent cell damage. 

One of the key benefits of getting more fruits and vegetables into your diet is enjoying more regular digestive throughput. It’s down to the fiber they contain, and it’s why we include all the pulp (fiber) in our smoothies. Beets are a good source of fiber, particularly the insoluble kind that helps to bulk up your stool and improve gut motility. You may notice that your urine or stool takes on a pink or red tinge after a beets binge: don’t panic! It’s just the natural pigment making its way on through.

We’re still not done with beet benefits! One of the most distinctive features of this vegetable’s nutritional profile is its very high level of inorganic nitrates (NO3-). Naturally-occurring nitrates are not to be confused with the food additive sodium nitrite: the latter is used as a preservative in processed meats and may be associated with an increased risk of cancer in the digestive tract. Inorganic nitrates (the good guys!) have been shown to increase nitric oxide (NO) in our blood, which is associated with increased blood flow and the promotion of vasodilation. What’s particularly exciting about beets is that because of this effect on blood flow, some studies have shown that beetroot supplementation can have a positive effect on high intensity interval exercise (1)(2). We reckon this makes a beet-rich smoothie (like our classic corals or new beet reds) a great choice an hour or so before a workout - give it a try and let us know what you think.

Finally, another cool piece of beet research: a meta analysis observing 22 studies that investigated the effects of beetroot juice on blood pressure concluded that beetroot juice consumption does indeed have blood pressure lowering capabilities (3).

How to use it

Beets are a staple of central and Eastern European cuisine: the classic soup borscht is a rich, earthy delight on a cold day, especially with a generous dollop of sour cream. Beets also lend themselves well to pickling and fermenting, the sharp/sour flavors adding complexity to their sweet earthiness. Simply boiled and cooled, they pair up nicely with a sharp cheese like feta in a salad; our favorite version adds peppery salad leaves, puy lentils and toasted walnuts, finished off with a balsamic dressing.

And how’s this for a surprising pairing: a cake made with beets and chocolate can be a real treat. Rich, moist and complex, it’s carrot cake’s more decadent cousin.

Smoothie fans can get their beet on with not one but two kencko flavors. Classic corals is for the confirmed beet-lover: with carrot, orange and ginger along for the ride, it’s a balance between fresh and earthy. For people who prefer their beets a little less forward in the mix, we just created a new limited edition flavor called beet reds. As the name suggests, it’s a beet-enhanced remix of our perennially popular berry reds smoothie. It’s sweeter and less beet-y than corals, but still delivers that incredibly vibrant color together with plenty of nutritional benefits. Feeling inspired? Get your beet fix here.