The Beet (Beta vulgaris) is universally known for it’s ability to provide material for bad puns and stain your hands.. but they’re also known for their health benefits and many other quirks/historical oddities that I think you’ll find pretty interesting. I realize that opinions on beets cover a broad spectrum.. some consider them undesirable, describing them as “tasting like dirt..” *sigh* ..while others basically worship these red little rooted wonders (I mean, have you ever watched The Office?). They can be pickled (my personal favorite), roasted, sautéed, and french fried. Dwight Schrute, the beet farming, strong-willed member of The Office touts beets as being superior to other vegetables. Well, here are ten reasons to prove him right using nothing but bad beet puns and illustrations by the man himself..
Top 10 Reasons Why Beets Are Better Than You Realized
..Illustrated by Bad Puns and Dwight Schrute
1) Don’t worry, beet happy
Beets contain betaine, a substance that relaxes the mind and is used in other forms to treat depression. It also contains tryptophan (also found in chocolate), which contributes to a sense of well being.
2) Travelin’ off the beet-en path
In 1975, during the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project, cosmonauts from the USSR’s Soyuz 19 welcomed the Apollo 18 astronauts by preparing a banquet of borscht (beet soup) in zero gravity.
3) Makin’ my heart beet
One of the earliest known benefits of the red beet is its use as an aphrodisiac during the Roman times. And it wasn’t all folklore.. it has been found to contain high amounts of boron, which is directly related to the production of human sex hormones. Reduced levels of inflammation, increased circulation, and more daily energy are also benefits of consuming beets which are related to maintaining your sex drive as you age.
4) Historically rooted
Around 800 BC, an Assyrian text describes beets growing in the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, one of the wonders of the ancient world. In 812 AD, Charlemagne issued a “Regulation concerning landed property” that registered beets as something to be cultivated on the Imperial estates.
5) Would you like fries with that?
Beets are amazing as fries! Take my word for it. I had my first beet fries at the food truck Corndoggies in Fort Collins, CO and my life has forever been changed. I’ve read the trick to getting root vegetables (i.e. sweet potatoes, beets) to crisp up when fried or baked is to toss them in corn starch before frying!
6) Sweet beets, man
Berlin chemist Andreas Sigismund Marggraf began sugar extraction from beets. Some time later the first sugar beet plant was bred, produced, and became the state vegetable of Utah. Although the same species as garden beets (Beta vulgaris), sugar beets are larger, and white in color. They are processed to make sugar, rather than being eaten as a vegetable. Today, 54% of domestically-produced sugar comes from sugar beets. There is no difference between beet and cane sugar. The sucrose (sugar) from sugar beets and sugar cane is identical, and the same as the sucrose found in fruits and vegetables.
7) Pumpin’ iron
By widening blood vessels, the nitric oxide that comes from the naturally occurring nitrates in beets helps increase blood flow and reduces the oxygen needed by muscles, enabling them to work more efficiently. Also, beets can increase exercise performance and stamina by allowing muscles to perform the same amount of work with less oxygen. Speaking of pumping iron, the high levels of iron in beets can help with issues such as fatigue and anemia.
8) Baby beets
Folic acid is crucial to the development of a baby’s spinal cord and can help prevent spinal cord defects, such as spina bifida. Women who are pregnant or trying to conceive can get 70% of their Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of folic acid from three raw baby beets!
A lot of nutritionists use beets and beet juice to test levels of stomach acid. If you consume beets and your urine turns pink (a condition called, “beeturia”), you have low stomach acid (which is typically a good thing). If your urine is still clear, it means that you have high levels of stomach acid.
10) Turnin’ beet red
Since the 16th century, beet juice has been used as a natural red dye. In 19th century England the Victorians used beets to dye their hair. Betanin is the main coloring compound present in red beetroot juice. The colourings responsible for the red hue are a group of molecules called betalains. This pigment is used as a natural food coloring for a wide range of foods, including frozen pizzas, tomato paste strawberry ice cream, and additional color to wines.
Now, beet it!