A Naples nutritionist dishes on the power of beets

Power of Beets

Beets might not strike you as a go-to veggie at the farmers market, but you should reconsider. Not only is this high-fiber root vegetable one of the top 10 plants when it comes to antioxidant qualities, research shows that it can help to control diabetes, cholesterol, and blood pressure and improve circulation. “Beets are rich in vitamins and minerals, particularly folate and manganese,” says Diana Vittorio, a registered dietitian and nutritionist at Cederquist Medical Wellness Center in Naples. But it’s not just the bulbs that are good for you. “The beet tops, which I like to use in salads, are high in iron and beta carotene.” Plus, the flavonoids in the stalks are touted for their anti-inflammatory properties. The easiest way to prepare beets is to roast them, which develops the sugars, making them a perfect pairing with a tart vinaigrette. (You don’t ever want to boil beets as it drains them of their rich flavor.) Pair beets with vitamin C–rich citrus fruits to aid with iron absorption. Check out this scrumptious fall salad recipe, below.

Beet and Citrus Salad

(serves two)

  • 2 beets
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • 1 blood orange
  • Red wine vinaigrette
  • Feta or goat cheese
    to garnish

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Remove and clean the leaves (save for another salad). Scrub the beets but leave the skin intact. Drizzle with olive oil, about 1 teaspoon per beet. Sprinkle with salt. Wrap in aluminum foil and place in a roasting dish. Roast for 45 to 60 minutes, depending on size, until a knife goes in easily. Once cooled, peel and cut into quarter-inch circles and arrange on a plate. Top each piece with a thin slice of peeled blood orange. Drizzle with red wine vinaigrette. Finish with feta or goat cheese crumbles, to taste.

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