...and the BEET Goes ON! May 28, 2010
Topics: Nutrition

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Seton Clinical Dietitian Julie Paff, RD, LD, teaches diet and diabetes self-management strategies to persons with diabetes and impaired glucose tolerance. She and other Seton Family of Hospitals health professionals host regularly scheduled seminars at multiple Seton facilities to help people learn more about pre-diabetes and diabetes in addition to teaching classes on diabetes nutrition, weight management and healthy eating. Julie's interests include the history of foods and her topic for this story is a vegetable that most people have an opinion about.

Low-cost Diabetes Prevention Seminars have started for the year. Check dates and sign up for the one most convenient for you.

The beets are for sale at local farmers markets..seems people either love this vegetable or hate it, but they are coming into local markets now. Sadly, one participant in diabetes education classes this last month was misinformed.he thought beets as a root vegetable were too high in sugar to be eaten by a person with Type 2 diabetes.

In fact beets are an excellent choice for persons with diabetes or pre-diabetes. Not only is this vegetable low in calories (roughly 35 Calories per 1/2 cup serving), but also a good source of fiber, folate, potassium, magnesium and calcium. Beets are indeed considered by many to be a super food. Beets are slightly higher than most vegetables in carbohydrate, with 8-9 gm carbohydrate per serving and the glycemic index for this vegetable is neither high nor low. The high folate content makes this food an excellent choice for pregnant women. Beets contain significant amounts of magnesium and calcium, making this vegetable a great food for bone health. Beets are a significant source of oxalates and can increase kidney stone formation in some people.

There is a free seminar scheduled for June 30 at Con Olio Oil at the Arboretum. You must register to attend and space is limited.

The history of the humble beet is long and interesting. The wild beet likely originated in North Africa along the seacoast. As early as 800 BC, wild beets were chosen to be grown in the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. Ancient Greece reviewed the beet greens for medications and as a culinary herb. In fact, Greeks offered beets to the sun god Apollo in the temple of Delphi. Romans were the first culture to eat the root as a foodin their day the root was either black or white, and not the traditional purple-red color of todays vegetable. Romans felt beet juice to be an aphrodisiac. The Roman tribes introduced beets to many countries in Europe. By the 14th century, beets were already a staple food in Poland and Russia. Since the 16th century, beet juice has been used as a natural food color and even in hair dye. Beet juice in commonly used in tomato paste to intensify the red color.

German scientists became interested in the sugar content of beet roots and began isolating specific beet strains that were higher in sugar. Poland was the first county to extract sugar from beets on a large scale in a factory. This intrigued Napoleon who ordered 69,000 acres of sugar beets planted. The British responded by blocking cane sugar exports to France. This action actually increased interest in the sugar beet industry in Europe. In 1840, only 5% of the worlds sugar was derived from beets, but by 1880, beets supplied 50% of the worlds sugar.

The beet came to the United States in 1830, with California planting beets for commercial production in 1879. In 1975 beet borscht was served to Apollo 18 astronauts by Russian cosmonauts during the Apollo-Soyuz Test Projects. Today the leading world producers of beets are the United States, Russian federation, France, Poland, France and Germany.

Beets are power-packed with phytochemicals and antioxidants. The color of beets, betacyanin, is a powerful cancer-fighting chemical. Beets have been shown to reduce the risk of colon cancer in animal studies. The color agents commonly extend a pinkish tint to urine or stoolwhile the beeturia is harmless, these changes in color can cause concerns to some people. The fiber in beets is shown to lower cholesterol and triglycerides. Choline in beets is believed to decrease inflammation. Beets are also high in beta-carotene and lutein and zeaxanthin, both known antioxidants. Eating beets is associated with lower blood pressure.

Sadly the White House garden is not growing beets, because President Obama has made it well-known that he does not like this root vegetable. Fact is, people either really like beets or truly dislike them.

Beets are EASY to prepare. You may choose to roast, steam, or boil whole beets after gently washing any dirt off the skin and cutting tops and root off. Do not peel beets until after you have cooked themin this way the skin can be easily removed.


Serves 8 people
4 red potatoes, quartered
4 turnips, quartered
2 parsnips, sliced in 1 inch thick pieces
2 carrots, sliced into 1 inch thick pieces
1 yam, cut into 1 inch thick slices
16 pearled onions, peeled
4 beets, quartered
8 cloves of garlic, peeled
1/2 cup olive oil
2 Tbsp fresh basil

Preheat oven to 400-degrees.

Wash and cut vegetables.

Pat each piece dry with a paper towel.

Place in a gallon zip-lock bag with oil and basil.

Place on a rimmed baking sheet and back for one hour.

Nutrition Information per serving: 270 Calories, 34 gm carbohydrate (2 carb choices), 14 gm fat, 6 gm fiber, 59 mg sodium, 928 mg potassium (27% of DV), 127 mg phosphorus. This recipe provides 3097 IU Vitamin A (62% of DV), 20 mcg Vitamin K (25% of DV), 76 mcg folate (19% DV), 0.4 mg Vitamin B6 (18% DV), 0.5 mg manganese (26% of DV), 50.5 mg magnesium (13% of DV)

Apple Beet and Avocado Salad

Serves 4

3 medium beets
1/4 cup water
4 cups romaine salad greens
1 onion, sliced into thin rings
1 apple, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
1/2 avocado, peeled, pitted and sliced
1/2 cup toasted chopped walnuts
1 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400-degrees F.

Wash beets, taking care not to break the skin.

Place in a baking dish with water.

Cover with foil and bake for 1 hour or until tender.

Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

Whisk together the balsamic vinegar, oil, and black pepper.

Peel and slice the beets, combine with the vinaigrette and refrigerate at least half an hour.

Divide the greens among individual salad plates.

Drain beets, and reserve dressing.

Decoratively arrange overlapping layers of beet, onion, apple, and avocado on the greens.

Drizzle with reserved dressing. Sprinkle on the nuts, and serve at once.

Nutrition information per serving: 312 Calories, 27 gm carbohydrate (2 carb choices), 22 gm fat, 6 gm dietary fiber, 63 mg salt, and 690 mg potassium (20% of DV). This recipe provides 274% of DV for Vitamin A (13682 IU), 262 mcg folate (66% DV), 42.3 mg Vitamin C (70% DV), 972 mg omega-e fatty acids, 0.7 mg manganese (37% DV), 2.6 mg iron (15% DV), 53.8 mg Magnesium (13% DV).

Julie Paff, RD, LD

Julie Paff is a Registered Dietitian and Diabetes Educator at Seton Diabetes Education Center. She teaches the importance of vegetable intake to health with diabetes and pre-diabetes.

If you have diabetes,

The Seton Diabetes Education Center can teach you how to get optimum blood sugar control with diet and lifestyle changes through individual or group education opportunities. To attend these classes, you will need a referral from your primary care physicianwe can assist with this process if you call us at (512) 324-1891.

If you have completed diabetes self-management training but desire additional support, check out www.goodhealth.com for upcoming diabetes education seminars.

If you have pre-diabetes or you are at high risk of developing diabetes, Seton Diabetes Education Center offers two options for lifestyle management education:

There is a NEW 3 hour course (2 classes) that is in-depth and detailed on specific strategies to manage blood sugar with diet and exercise, test blood sugar to determine if values are in target for health, and diet strategies to reduce cardiovascular risk and lower blood pressure. This is an intense course and there is a cost. Individuals can self-refer or may be referred by a physician. To enroll, you must pre-register by calling (512) 324-1891.

There are ongoing free community seminars offered throughout the 11-county area. Seminars are based on the NDEP Small Steps! Big Rewards curriculum and is a 2 hour seminar. Check for a seminar (some are offered in Spanish) to see if one is near you. These seminars are offered as a community service and there is no cost to attend, but advanced registration is required at the website. This course is an overview and does not provide the detail that the Comprehensive Pre-Diabetes Course offers.

Seton Diabetes Education Center
5555 North Lamar Blvd., Building D, Suite 125
Austin, TX 78751

Phone: (512) 324-1891

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