The Health Benefits of Beets and Beet Greens
Written by Margaux J. Rathbun, B.S., N.T.P.

Beets and their greens are one of our favorite things to eat.  They are so delicious!  When we go to the farmers market, we always get the extra beet greens that customers never want.  The ancient Romans were the first to cultivate beets for food and the tribes that invaded Rome were responsible for introducing them to Northern Europe.  Beets are a two-in-one-vegetable as you can eat both the roots and leaves. Proper preparation of beets is the key to getting the most nutrients out of them.  You can enjoy them by either steaming or roasting them along side your favorite entrée.


Here are some of the health benefits of eating beets and their greens.
  • Beet roots contain a unique class of phytonutrients called betalains which have been found to offer potent antioxidant protection.  The roots have also been shown to contain a large amount of antioxidants.  Studies have shown that beets are wonderful for promoting a healthy heart.  The heart-healthy nutrients found in beets include folate, fiber, potassium, magnesium, and vitamin C.
     
  • Beet phytonutrient pigments have been found to prevent the oxidation of LDL, which is one of the initiating steps in development of atherosclerosis.
     
  • Beets are a great source of manganese, copper, iron, phosphorus, and tryptophan.
     
  • There are 74 calories in one cup of beets and 39 calories in one cup of beet greens.
     
  • Similar to spinach and Swiss chard, beet greens are an excellent source of vitamin A which provides powerful protection from oxidative damage to cellular structures and DNA.
     
  • Beet greens are a rich source of lutein and zeaxanthin, important nutrients for health vision.
     
  • Red beets contain a phytonutrient called betacyanin, which provides extra nutritional not found in yellow or rainbow-colored beets.
     
  • Sugar beets are grown specifically for the production of refined sugar and alcohol.  These large white beets are not generally eaten and their sugar content is more than twice that of red beets.

References:  Mateljan, G. (2007). The Worlds Healthiest Foods. Seattle, WA: George Mateljan Foundation.


The Health Benefits of Broccoli
March 1, 2010, Diet, Nutrition, Editor
 

It has been referred to as “vegetable royalty” and for good reason!  Broccoli is a super-star vegetable power-packed with nutrients that are extremely beneficial for your health.  It is a member of the brassica family of cruciferous veggies (bok choy, cabbage, kale, etc).  It originated in the Mediterranean region of Europe and today is one of the most popular veggies in America.  It can be cooked in casseroles, added to salads, and eaten raw.  There is a variety of broccoli available including broccolini, broccoflower, broccoli raab, and broccoli sprouts.  Here are some of the amazing health benefits of broccoli. Yummy!
 
Broccoli contains phytonutrients that are thought to have anti-cancer effects on the body.  One group of these phytonutrients is excellent in preventing breast cancer.  This vegetable has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease.  In a recent study of more than 100,000 people, those who ate diets rich in broccoli experienced a 20 percent reduction in their risk of heart disease.  Broccoli is a concentrated source of dietary fiber, folic acid, vitamin B6, vitamin E, niacin, magnesium, potassium, and omega-3 fatty acids.  Research suggests that the phytonutrients in broccoli promote digestive health.  Broccoli promotes vision health by containing lutein and zeaxanthin.  In a large-scale study involving over 30,000 individuals, those who ate broccoli more than twice a week were found to have a 23 percent lower risk of cataracts compared to those who ate broccoli less than once a month. This vegetable promotes bone health.  One cup of steamed broccoli contains 74 mg of calcium and 123 mg of vitamin C.  If you are pregnant, be sure to eat your broccoli!  The folic acid in this vegetable is essential for proper cellular division and DNA synthesis.  Broccoli contains only 44 calories per one cooked cup serving.  Sleep promoting tryptophan is contained in broccoli.

References:  Mateljan, G. (2007). The Worlds Healthiest Foods. Seattle, WA: George Mateljan Foundation

The Health Benefits of Carrots
March 7, 2010, Diet, Nutrition, Editor
 

When most people think of health food, they immediately think of carrots! “Eat your carrots,” our moms use to say to us. These crunchy veggies have remained a favorite in our country for many years. You can purchase little bags filled with carrots for snacks on-the-go. Carrots have become a main ingredient in many fruit and vegetable juices available at your local grocery store. Here are some of the amazing health benefits of eating carrots.
 
Three medium carrots contain 60 mg of calcium, 586 mg of potassium, a bit of magnesium, phosphorus, and vitamin C.  Carrots contain 30,000 IUs of vitamin A and 15,000 units of beta-carotene.  They also have 6,000 units of alpha-carotene. Talk about nutritious!  The high amount of carotenoids found in carrots have been associated with a decrease of up to 50 percent in bladder, cervix, prostate, colon, larynx, and esophageal cancer.  It had also been shown to decrease the risk of breast cancer by 20 percent.  Recent studies in humans indicated that as little as one carrot a day could possibly cut the rate of lung cancer in half.  Carrots have an enormous amount of lutein and zeaxanthin, two carotenoids that work together to promote eye health.  Cooking carrots can slightly change the nutritional content and makes some of the nutrients more bioavailable. Both raw and cooked carrots are healthy to eat.  To get the most out of carrots, eat them with a bit of healthy fat.  The carotenoids and vitamin A are fat-soluble nutrients.  Eating fat with carrots will help you benefit from consuming these nutrients. 

Resources:  Bowden, J. (2007). The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth. Beverly, MA:  Fair Winds Press.

The Health Benefits of Collard Greens
Feb 21st, 2010 | By Editor | Category: Diet, Nutrition
This cabbage-family vegetable is a staple of Southern cooking.  It has a flavor that is a cross between cabbage and kale.  Collard greens are native to the Mediterranean and were popular with both the ancient Greeks and Romans.  This is the ultimate “leafy green vegetable” that is usually sold as a loose bunch of leaves, though you can get it frozen as well.  Here are some of the health benefits of collard greens.
One cup of collard greens provides almost the same amount of calcium as 8 ounces of milk.  It also contains a whopping 5 grams of fiber! Collard greens are great sources of magnesium, phosphorous, vitamin A, vitamin K, and vitamin C.  These vegetables contain significant sources of lutein and zeaxanthin, two carotenoids that are outstanding for eye health.  Collard greens have sulfur-containing phytonutrients have been shown to prevent cancer.  If you are concerned with building or maintaining strong, healthy bones, be sure to eat lots of collard greens,  They are a dairy-free alternative for those seeking foods rich in calcium. They are also a great source of folic acid and vitamin B6.  The stems of collard greens contain more fiber than the leaves.

References:  Mateljan, G. (2007).  The Worlds Healthiest Foods.  Seattle, WA:  George Mateljan Foundation.

The Health Benefits of Onions
Mar 7th, 2010 | By Admin | Category: Diet, Nutrition
 
 
Sometimes we think it’s funny to come running out of the kitchen after chopping onions and act like we’ve been crying.  Ok, maybe that’s a mean trick, but onions sure do make our eyes water!  We’ve learned that freezing your onions for one hour or so will slow the activity of the enzyme responsible for eye irritation.  No more tears!  For centuries, onions have been a very popular vegetable.  In ancient Egypt, they were used as currency to pay workers who built the pyramids. They were even included in the tombs of the Pharaohs to accompany them into the afterlife.  Here are some of the amazing health benefits of eating onions.
 
Regular consumption of onions has been associated reducing the risk of heart disease, lowering cholesterol levels, and reducing blood pressure.  Onions have a concentrated source of flavonoid phytonutrients that have anti-inflammatory benefits and have been suggested to promote heart health.  These vegetables have a very good source of chromium, a hard-to-find mineral that is important for balancing blood sugar levels.  It has been shown that regular consumption of onions (such as two or more times a week), is associated with a significantly reduced risk of developing colon cancer.  Cooking meats with onions may help reduce the amount of carcinogens produced when the meat is cooked on high heat. Onions are a good source of dietary fiber which is important for healthy colons.  Onions are full of manganese, copper, sulfite-detoxifying molybdenum, potassium, phosphorus, and tryptophan.  There are only 61 calories in a one cup serving of onions.

References:  Mateljan, G. (2007). The Worlds Healthiest Foods. Seattle, WA:  George Mateljan Foundation.

The Health Benefits of Cucumbers
Apr. 6, 2010 | By Editor  | Category: Diet, Nutrition
 
 
We tend to crave snacky-foods a lot. Anything that is crunchy really hits the spot! That’s why we love cucumbers so much! They satisfy our crunchy-food craving and help us maintain an ideal weight. There is nothing better than dipping a freshly sliced cucumber halves into a bowl of hummus or veggie dip. Here are some of the health benefits of cucumbers
Cucumbers are known for their concentration of silica, a mineral that is an essential component of collagen. That is why cucumber juice is recommended as a good way to improve the complexion and health of skin.  The high water content makes cucumbers naturally hydrating which is why they are sometimes placed topically on the skin. They can help with a variety of skin problems including swelling under the eyes and sunburn.  Cucumbers are a great source of vitamin C and a phytonutrient called caffeic acid, which prevents water retention.  These crunchy vegetables are a good source of potassium, magnesium, and fiber. They are also a good source of folate, a B vitamin that is important in maintaining a healthy heart. Since cucumbers are a good source of fiber, adding them to salads is a great way to help get your recommended daily intake.  Cucumbers are a concentrated source of many nutrients including vitamin A, manganese, molybdenum, and tryptophan.

References:  Mateljan, G. (2007). The Worlds Healthiest Foods. Seattle, WA:  George Mateljan Foundation.

The Health Benefits of Potatoes
Apr. 6, 2010 | By Editor  | Category: Diet, Nutrition
 
It’s no secret that potatoes are a staple vegetable in many households.  With everything from hash browns to baked potatoes, potatoes are one of the more popular veggies!  Potatoes have been cultivated by South American Indians for over 4,000 years and have served as an important food source throughout history. Spanish explorers discovered that potatoes helped prevent scurvy on their long trips overseas.  This was due to the high concentration of vitamin C found in potatoes.  Here are some of the health benefits of eating potatoes.
  • Potatoes are an excellent source of vitamin B6.  This vitamin is involved in over 100 enzymatic reactions in the body and is important for the synthesis of amino acids.  One cup of baked potato contains about 1/5 of the daily value for vitamin B6!
     
  • Potatoes are a great source of potassium which is important for regulating blood pressure.  The skin of the potato has been shown to help lower cholesterol levels.
     
  • One cup of potato contains about 133 calories.
     
  • Potatoes contain a good amount of antioxidants.  They are also a good source of vitamin C, copper, manganese, and trace minerals.
     
  • Potatoes are rich in fiber which makes them very filling.

References:  Mateljan, G. (2007). The Worlds Healthiest Foods. Seattle, WA: George Mateljan Foundation.


Cruciferous Vegetables - Article Written by Jim Scheibel
Apr 19th, 2010 | By Editor | Category: Diet, Health Issues
 
 

Jim Scheibel is a nutritionist, author (and in his words) most importantly a wellness advocate.  He co founded Mission Wellness, a company that assists both individuals and companies with spreading health and wellness around the world.  Jim speaks internationally on topics such as wellness and anti-aging.  He is busy finalizing a book on the best anti-aging strategies.  He is an avid runner, participates in yoga, meditation and loves to garden.  He is involved heavily with Mission Wellness (www.MissionWellness.ca) and growing their philanthropic arm of the company.  Mission Wellness is passionate about nutrition and seeing that children around the world have access to food and clean water sources.

This one is for the ladies..

 
 
Growing up in a house full of sisters, my mother having many aunts, breast health was often a topic of conversation that made me squirm in my GWG Scrubbies!  As I have matured I realize how important and healthy those discussions are.  I wish men would speak more openly about their health as well.  Regardless all this talk about breast health peaked my interest as an adult about how nutrition could play a role in the prevention of this specific type of cancer.

My interest focused on foods that would provide antioxidant protection from cancer forming cells and cease free-radical production in the body.  My search always seemed to lead me back to cruciferous vegetable and clearly for a good reason.  You see, cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, cauliflower, and broccoli contains an anti-oxidant called Indole-3 carbinol.  This fancy anti-oxidant helps to break down estrogens in the body and this protects against breast cancer, ovarian cancer and other estrogen-sensitive cancers.  These compounds also appear to stop enzymes from activating cancer-causing agents in the body, and they increase the activity of enzymes that disable and eliminate cancer forming cells in the body.

Studies have long suggested a connection between these vegetables and resistance to cancer.  However, only in the past decade have we began to understand how these compounds work. Scientists have shown us that these cool enzymes send messages to the liver to turn up our body’s detoxification system.  Essentially, they tell the body to be on high alert for cancer causing agents and when they are found that they should be eliminated from the body.  Because my formative years were in the 80’s I get a visual of the Space Invaders going on in our system.  Essentially these invaders (carcinogens) are blasted away by the enzymes that are created by us eating cruciferous vegetables.
 
Although cruciferous vegetables are amazing for breast health and estrogen regulation, they also have other health benefits as well.  These vegetable are full of numerous vitamins and minerals that we need in our diet.  They are also a great source of fiber which is good for keeping our GI system healthy and also assisting us with regularity.  These veggies are low in calories, high in calcium, iron, and vitamins A and C. Cruciferous vegetables are not just limited to broccoli and cauliflower.  They also include root vegetables such as radishes, kohlrabi and rutabaga.

I am sure I am speaking to the converted here, but it is always important to try to purchase organic vegetables whenever possible.  We are working hard at removing toxins from our body with these wonderful foods, so we do not want to put additional herbicides and pesticides in our body.  Also if you can purchase these vegetables locally it means that you are likely getting a fresher product that has not lost any of its nutritional value.  In addition to that we do not have the environmental impact of shipping these across the country!

I recommend to people to try to eat these foods as close to how nature prepared them for us as possible.  Eating them raw with a little hummus or lightly steamed is the best way to ensure that we are getting the most nutritional value from these super foods.  Let yourself experience that crunchy and fresh flavor of these wonderful vegetables and know that they are working magic in our system.
 
Speaking of the 80’s maybe next time we can discuss why my mother used to spit on a tissue and wash my face in public!

Many blessings, Jim Scheibel