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When you think of smoothies, one of two kinds probably springs to mind: the green protein, heavy-on-the-kale variety that health nuts swear by, or the delightful fruit ones that are a refreshing respite on a hot summer’s day. Beets are probably not the first ingredient you think of when you consider your vast assortment of smoothie options. It’s not your fault, really. Beets don’t typically get a lot of love — not as much as, say, blueberries or strawberries.
To be fair, they require a bit more work than strawberries, which you wash and pop in your mouth or throw in a blender with some ice, perhaps some almond milk and a ripe banana.
But despite requiring extra effort, beets are pretty darn versatile. You can grill ‘em, you can boil ‘em, you can roast ‘em, you can make them the star ingredient of a salad.
How? Roast your beets, let them cool down, slice them up and throw them on a bed of mixed greens and top with some warm goat cheese. You won’t even need a dressing, but oil and red wine vinegar with a pinch of oregano and salt to taste pairs wonderfully. You can eat ‘em raw, too. Shred that baby for a different type of salad topping. You can pickle them, of course, and who can forget borscht?
If you’re intrigued, but still not quite convinced, the smoothie may be the vehicle you need to give beets a try. Just as beetroot is pretty versatile, so are the smoothie possibilities that include it as the main ingredient. So here’s a super easy beet smoothie recipe, followed by five reasons why you should go ahead and give it a try.
Recipe: The lazy person’s beet smoothie
- 1 medium beet, peeled and chopped
- 1 8-ounce glass fat-free milk
- 3/4 cup of ice (optional)
You don’t have to use milk. Remember, versatility! Add apple juice and two small carrots for the nondairy drinkers.
They do your brain good: According to an article by Bill Hendrick for WebMD Health News, beets are good for your brains. Hendrick quotes Daniel Kim-Shapiro, director of the Translational Science Center at Wake Forest University, who said in a news release, “There have been several very high-profile studies showing that drinking beet juice can lower blood pressure, but we wanted to show that drinking beet juice also increases perfusion, or blood flow, to the brain.” Keep that oxygen flowing to your brain and those blood vessels nice and wide.
They have anti-inflammatory properties: Beets contain betain, a natural anti-inflammatory. Now a word to the wise: Inflammation is not always a bad thing — it’s what your body does when it’s healing itself. And if you are prone to kidney stones, don’t overdo it with the beet smoothies. In fact, don’t have beet smoothies three times a day, every day even if you’ve never gotten kidney stones. According to the Mayo Clinic, beets are oxalate-rich, and can spell calcium oxalate stones in your kidneys. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
They lower your blood pressure: Serenity now! WebMD cited a study that found drinking beetroot juice can lower blood pressure. Have a nice refreshing beet smoothie with extra crushed ice and have that “Aaaaaaaaah” actually mean business.
They are a good source of vitamins and minerals: It’s like a one-stop shop of vitamin and mineral supplements, which means you can pass on trying to juggle a dozen different pill bottles every day. Fiber, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, fiber and iron! Vitamins A, B and C, oh my! Beta-carotene, beta-cyanine and folic acid, too. In short, pregnant women, anemics and anyone who could use an immune system boost can benefit from the beet’s nutritional content.
They help bring sexy back: Who knew? Beets contain high amounts of boron, which is directly related to the production of human sex hormones — and they also increase blood flow. So, ladies and gentlemen, start your engines. Rawr.
Caveat: Raw beets are going to generate the most nutrients. What this means for your smoothie is that you’re either going to have to boil your beets a bit to soften them (save that liquid!) before you throw them in your blender — which means you lose some vitamins and minerals even if you add some of that reserved water — or you’re going to need a really, really, really powerful blender.