Beets, like carrots and parsnips, are almost a “gray area” food among people following an ancestral diet approach to food. Because of their relatively high sugar content, people become confused as to whether or not they are actually healthy for you. Yes, they are a healthy option for you! But, this does not mean that you should go nuts over beets and include them in every meal! Beets have very valuable carotenoids and phyto-nutrients which support nervous system function and in especially the eye. The other health benefit to beets are betalains in particular. These are the red and yellow pigments found in beets that have shown to produce high antioxidant qualities which aid in the prevention in some cancers.
A big misunderstanding, as most health recommendations are when it comes to nutrition, is that when some people hear about the health benefits of certain foods, they take it too far. In this case, because someone hears that beets are good for you because of the health benefits listed above, they will make it a point to have them every day. This is now when they can start to get “unhealthy”. Because of the high sugar content in them, too much may cause elevated insulin levels which is something that we really want to try and avoid. What will also happen is the influx of sugar can cause the body to store fat, something that most people do not wish to do. Beet greens are said to have toxic properties like many other vegetables. What you need to keep in mind is that when eating fruits and vegetables, it is important to try and eat as much variety as possible. Plants protect themselves to an extent by containing different toxins. These of course, are not harmful in small amounts. If you choose to over-indulge on any particular vegetable or fruit, that is when it becomes a problem. Eat a wide variety of SEASONAL vegetables and fruits and you should be fine!
If you are buying beets fresh, as you should, you will notice that they come with the greens. These can be washed and eaten. One of the quickest and easiest ways to prepare them is just to roughly chop and saute in some tallow or butter with a little salt and pepper.
To cook the beets, place them in a pot with just enough water to cover. Add a few tablespoons of balsamic vinegar and a bit of salt. Occasionally I will add a bit of honey to this pot as well which will help really bring out the flavor of the beets.
Be sure to cover your pot and then put on the heat. Bring the liquid to a boil and then turn down to a simmer. Cook until you can insert a paring knife into the beet without resistance.
Once finished, remove beets and discard liquid. With a paper towel, or a few, remove the skin. At this point the skin will basically just slide off as shown below. You may eat them hot with a little butter, salt and pepper. Or, let them cool and turn them into a salad. Beets pair very well with ingredients like vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, citrus, soft cheeses, nuts like almonds, walnuts, pecans, macadamia nuts, etc.