It was only just over a year ago that I wrote a post about beets and liver detox because journalists were claiming that beets (beetroot in the UK) were the latest superfood. Now they are claiming it again!
So what prompted this new claim?
Well, it seems that sales of beets in the UK have shot up to almost £1 million a week (approx 1,530,554 USD) helped by chefs and food bloggers promoting them as the latest healthy superfood. And yes that’s a WEEK! Incredible isn’t it?
Sales of beet juice alone have soared by 50% in just one year as studies convince people of it’s health benefits. One supermarket boasts seven varieties of beet juice.
Health Benefits of Beets
Numerous studies have shown that drinking beet juice can help to lower blood pressure while others have shown that those who drank beet juice before they exercised were able to exercise for up to 16% longer.
Beets contain powerful phytonutrients that may help fight cancer, combat inflammation and support detoxification.
Beets and Liver Detox
The pieces I have seen about the increase in sales of products that include beets don’t talk about their detox potential but it’s the effect that beets have on liver detox that we are, of course, interested in here.
Studies done on rats show that beets can enhance the liver’s production of glutathione, a substance that plays an important part in detoxification, and superoxide dismutase, an enzyme that is critical to a cell’s detox system.
Some critics say that you can’t apply rat studies to humans but others say that rats are really quite close to us evolutionarily and because humans and rats are both mammals, we share many similarities in structure and function.
Poor diet, medications, stress, pollution, chemical toxins, aging, infections and radiation all deplete glutathione. This results in your liver being unable to do it’s job and it gets overloaded and possibly damaged.
You might be feeling the effects of low liver function yourself right now, but you might not even realize it. Maybe you feel tired all the time, or you perhaps you are packing on pounds around your middle, or you have been noticing you’ve got cellulite. Symptoms like these can often be traced back to a liver that is not able to function efficiently.
Food for a toxic liver
The fact is that beets have long been used as a natural remedy for liver disorders. According to Naturopaths Peter Bennet and Stephen Barrie “daily portions of beets, an excellent source of betaine, are good for the blood, intestines and liver.”
Betaine is one of the nutrients that can help lessen fatty deposits in your liver and lowering homocysteine levels in the blood. Homocysteine is a highly toxic metabolite which can damage arteries and lead to to heart disease. It’s considered to be a better predictor of heart disease than cholesterol.
In their clinic they say that beets help to keep their patients regular especially while they are going through their detox program.
In their excellent 7 Day Detox Miracle they say “Beets should be considered a dietary substance that has medicinal benefits, a safe and effective food “drug” for a toxic liver and other toxic conditions”
Cooking destroys detox pigment
Betalains, the pigments that give beets their red color and induce the Phase 2 liver detox enzymes are highest in the skin of beets. A certain amount of betalains are lost when beets are peeled and they are reduced with cooking.
For these reasons it’s best to keep beet steaming times to 15 minutes or less, and roasting times under an hour.
Juicing the raw unpeeled beet root is the best way to get the highest health benefits. Over 40 years ago Jay Kordich, aka The Father of Juicing, created one of his signature drink combinations simply using beets and apples which originally came from Dr Norman Walker. He calls it The Liver Mover.
The Jay Kordich Liver Mover
(organic produce is best)
1/2 a red beet, well scrubbed, with its greens
2 red delicious apples
Put through your juicer. Pour into your serving glass and sip slowly.
If you want to make it more powerful and effective for liver detox , add 6 fresh dandelion leaves to the mixture, along with 2 medium sized cucumbers.
Beets have a powerful effect on the liver and can cause nausea if your liver is very toxic and you are not used to drinking beet juice so go easy on them at first.
If you are diabetic and beets are so sweet it’s best to mix them with other juice and monitor your blood sugar carefully until you know how you react to it.
Beet greens are in the same plant family as chard and spinach but have a milder flavor and are not as bitter as kale or dandelion leaves. They are full of beneficial nutrients and are a valuable source of lutein and zeaxanthin, two antioxidants that are particularly beneficial for the eyes.
If you don’t like the earthy taste of beets but still want the benefits of the betalains without peeling them try mixing them with berries.
Red Beet & Berry Detox Smoothie
1 organic red beet, well scrubbed & chopped
1 small organic apple, cored
1/2 organic orange, peeled and deseeded
1/2 cup frozen berries
handful baby spinach
1/4 cup frozen pineapple (optional)
1/2 cup cold filtered water
Put all ingredients into high powered blender.
Start on slow and gradually increase to high until very smooth.
Add more water if necessary.
Here’s a recipe for a warm beet salad.
Warm Beet Detox Salad
Makes: 4 servings, about 2 cups each
8 cups organic baby spinach
2 cups cooked organic beets (see note)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup thinly sliced red onion
2 medium sized ripe organic tomatoes, chopped
2 tablespoons sliced black olives
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon Celtic or Himalayan salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
Wash spinach and leave to drain well.
Cut beets into 1/2 inch thick cubes if not already cubed.
Heat oil gently in a frying pan on medium heat.
Add onion and cook until softened for 2 -3 minutes.
Add chopped tomatoes, olives, and garlic and cook, gently stirring, until the tomatoes begin to soften and melt into mixture, about 3 minutes.
Add beets, vinegar, salt and pepper and cook, stirring gently, until the beets are heated through, about 1 minute.
Place spinach in large bowl, add the beet mixture and toss to combine well.
Sprinkle with parsley. Serve warm.
How to steam beets to preserve the betalains:
Cut well scrubbed beets into 1/2 – 1 inch cubes
Place in a steamer basket over boiling water, cover and steam until just tender about 10 -15 minutes.
You can get more delicious beet recipes in my previous post about liver detox and beets here.
Efficient liver function is absolutely essential for a healthy body. A liver detox can help you shift a few unwanted pounds too as you detox chemicals that interfere with the weight control
So what do you think about beets being the latest superfood. Do you love them or hate them? Have you tried beet juice, beet smoothies or beet dishes? Let me know in the comments.
Detox Smoothie image by Breville