Beet (Tian Cai)
Botanical Name: Beta vulgaris
Beets have been harvested for thousands of years for their nutritional value, as a dye and as a source for sugar. They help improve the flow of blood to the brain slowing dementia and improving mental faculties. The vitamins and minerals found in beets help strengthen immunity, aid blood production and regulate metabolism. The dietary nitrate found in beets helps to widen the blood vessels improving athletic performance. Studies show they help protect against colon cancer.
Below is an overview of Beet (Tian Cai), combining and interpreting the best of Western Science, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Shamanism, Folklore and more. Gain a balanced and thorough understanding of the healing properties of Beet (Tian Cai).
Western Name: Beets
Also Known As: Beetroot, Table Beet
Organs/Systems: Immune, Digestive, Nervous Systems
Key Western Actions & Medicinal Uses: Immune Enhancing, Nutritious, Antioxidant. Highly nutritious, improves eyesight, strengthens immunity, balances blood sugars, reduces tumors, improves metabolism, constipation, improves proper cell growth.
Pin Yin: Tian Cai
Also Known As: Hong Cai Tou (Beetroot)
Meridians: Liver, Heart, Intestines
Key TCM Actions & Medicinal Uses: Nourishes the Blood/Tonifies the Heart/Calms Shen/Lubricates the Intestines/Cleanses the Liver: anemia, irritability, restlessness, habitual constipation, detoxes the liver from drugs or alcohol, herpes.
Parts Most Frequently Used: Taproots, Leaves
Flavors/Temps: Sweet, Cool
History/Folklore: Beets are a root vegetable that grow underground and have a leafy top that grows above ground. Both the root and the leaves are edible. It takes approximately 60 days from seed to harvest.
The potassium in beets helps lower your heart rate and regulate metabolism and the sodium helps regulate proper fluid levels in the blood, tissues and cells. Beet juice will lower your blood pressure within an hour of drinking it, helping to prevent heart attack, strokes and other cardiovascular problems.
The silica in beets helps strengthen bones and hair.
Studies show that beets help prevent anemia, protect the liver from toxins and prevent against certain kinds of cancers. One study suggests that smokers consider adding beet juice to their diets to help expel cancer forming agents.
Beetroots contain phytonutrient pigments called betalains. There are two types of betalain, betalain and vulgaxanthin. Both are found in beets and both are high in antioxidants and excellent anti-inflammatory agents. They help detoxify the body and suppress enzymes that can contribute to tumor growths. Beetroots maximize the amount of oxygen being carried in red blood cells improving stamina and cell functioning. Beets improve liver functioning by protecting against fatty deposits caused by alcohol or drug abuse and protein deficiency.
The greens help keep your eyes healthy.
Enjoyed the world over, beets are eaten raw, boiled or roasted. They are pickled, made into soup (called Borscht) and used as a tasty condiment in many Eastern European countries. In Australia, a slice of pickled beetroot is used to top off beef patties to make an “Aussie Burger”.
Beetroot can be used to make wine, food dye, food flavoring and to sweeten desserts, jams, ice cream and even breakfast cereals.
Ancient Romans used beetroots to treat fevers and constipation. In the Middle Ages, beetroot was used to treat digestive and blood illnesses.
Beets contain oxalates. A compound that is excreted from the body. Those that have a history of kidney stones, need to watch their intake of this compound as oxalates can join with calcium to contribute to the formation of kidney stones. Regular servings are unlikely to be a problem but overdoing it could cause stones. A 2009 study showed that boiling the leaves in milk removed more oxalate than boiling in water.
Beet juice is considered a “super food” due to its high nutritional value, health benefits and ability to help detox the liver and body.
Once it was discovered that beets were a concentrated source of sugar, they were cultivated all over the world to feed the growing requirement for sugar.
Beets are plant in the amaranth family.
The betanin in beets gives them their color. It does not break down in the intestines and will turn your urine and stools a reddish pink color as your body eliminates the harmless compound. Urine colored reddish pink from beets is called “beeturia.”
Folate, Potassium, Calcium, Sodium, Manganese, Magnesium, Rich in Vitamin A & C, Iron, Silica, Phosphorous, Copper, Dietary Fiber, Betalains, Amino acids.
The fiber in beetroot help slow the foods conversion into glucose, making it a good choice for those with Type-2 diabetes.
Raw v. 10 minutes v. 25 minutes
Like many vegetables, the highest nutritional content is available when the root or leaves are eaten raw. The longer you cook beets, the more the nutritional value is lost. They are at their best eaten raw, steamed under 15 minutes or roasted for under an hour.
Beetroots help reduce tumor cell growth in colon, breast, stomach, prostate and testicular tissues.
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