The modern Paleo Diet is focused on lean meats, but we love vegetables too. However, many Westerners need to beef up their vegetable intake because over 87% of adults are not eating enough of them each day.1 Although, the Paleo Diet favors foods with a lower glycemic impact, 2 you can’t beat the nutritional benefits of beets. They are rich in calcium, iron, magnesium, vitamin C, potassium, manganese, phosphorous, as well as carotene and B complex.3 Beets provide anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and detox support in the body. They also support healthy bile flow,4 stimulate liver cell function, and provide a protective effect for the liver and bile ducts.5
Beets are a great source of betaine, also called betaine anhydrous or trimethylglycine (TMG). Betaine is a substance that’s made in the body that’s required for healthy liver function, cellular reproduction, and to make carnitine.6 Further, there is a growing body of evidence that betaine is an important nutrient for the prevention of chronic disease.7 It is also a metabolite of choline8 and an essential biochemical component of the methionine-homocysteine cycle.9
Specifically, betaine also plays a role in reducing levels of the amino acid homocysteine in the blood.10 Homocysteine is a toxic substance in the body that can lead to osteoporosis and is an indicator of an increased risk of heart disease.11
Beets are a great alternative for endurance athletes looking for a nutrient dense option for post workout food to replenish from workouts.12 Studies have shown that eating beets prior to exercise, led to a 16% increase in workout times.13 They are also rich in antioxidants14 to aid in recovery between exercise sessions. Whether you are an avid exerciser or not, adding beets to your Paleo Diet is a win-win as they are a nutritional powerhouse.
Although typically eaten cooked, beets can also be eaten raw. Thinly slice or grate and serve over dressed lettuce greens. To roast whole beets, place them in a covered roasting pan for 45-60 minutes (until you can pierce them with a fork) in a 375 °F oven. Once cooked, the skin will easily peel away with your fingers.
This hearty, Paleo Roasted Beet and Tomato Soup offers a simple way to introduce cooked beets into your Paleo Diet. It is a festive, bright dish to commence any holiday meal or as an accompaniment to your favorite Paleo sandwich.
Paleo Roasted Red Beet & Tomato Soup
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 1 red onion, sliced
- 1 small carrot, diced
- 2 (14.5 oz.) cans of no salt added organic diced tomatoes or homemade canned tomatoes
- 1 large roasted, peeled, red beet (about 2 cups cubed)
- Black pepper to taste
- Sauté the red onion and carrot in the coconut oil until the onions turn translucent and the carrot is soft.
- In a blender, combine the diced tomatoes, the cubed roasted beet, and the cooked onion mixture.
- Blend until very smooth.
- Pour the mixture into a soup pot.
- Simmer for 10-20 minutes, season with black pepper to taste and serve!
1. Available at: http://epi.grants.cancer.gov/diet/usualintakes/pop/2007-10/. Accessed on November 8, 2015.
2. Cordain, Loren. The Paleo Diet Revised: Lose Weight and Get Healthy by Eating the Foods You Were Designed to Eat. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2010.
3. Available at: http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2348/2. Accessed on November 8, 2015.
4. Gu, X., and D. Li. “Fat nutrition and metabolism in piglets: a review.” Animal Feed Science and Technology 109.1 (2003): 151-170.
5. Kanbak, Güngör, Mine İnal, and Cengiz Bayçu. “Ethanol‐induced hepatotoxicity and protective effect of betaine.” Cell biochemistry and function 19.4 (2001): 281-285.
6. Craig, Stuart AS. “Betaine in human nutrition.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 80.3 (2004): 539-549.
7. Craig, Stuart AS. “Betaine in human nutrition.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 80.3 (2004): 539-549.
8. Abdelmalek, Manal F., et al. “Betaine, a promising new agent for patients with nonalcoholic steatohepatitis: results of a pilot study.” The American journal of gastroenterology 96.9 (2001): 2711-2717.
9. Craig SA. Betaine in human nutrition. Am J Clin Nutr 80: 539–549, 2004.
10. Olthof, Margreet R., et al. “Low dose betaine supplementation leads to immediate and long term lowering of plasma homocysteine in healthy men and women.” The Journal of nutrition 133.12 (2003): 4135-4138.
11. Homocysteine Studies Collaboration. “Homocysteine and risk of ischemic heart disease and stroke: a meta-analysis.” Jama 288.16 (2002): 2015-2022.
12. Lomangino, Kevin. “Moving With the Beet: Can It Enhance Athletic Performance?.” Clinical Nutrition Insight 38.9 (2012): 6-7.
13. Bailey, Stephen J., et al. “Dietary nitrate supplementation reduces the O2 cost of low-intensity exercise and enhances tolerance to high-intensity exercise in humans.” Journal of Applied Physiology 107.4 (2009): 1144-1155.
14. Trejo-Tapia, G., et al. “Effect of screening and subculture on the production of betaxanthins in Beta vulgaris L. var.‘Dark Detroit’callus culture.” Innovative Food Science & Emerging Technologies 9.1 (2008): 32-36.