Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Benefits of Roots!

The roots of any plant are its anchor and foundation; they are the essential parts that support and nourish the plant. Root vegetables lend these properties to us when we eat them, making us feel physically grounded and rooted, increasing our stability, stamina, and endurance.
            Roots absorb and supply plants with vital nutrients; likewise they increase absorption and assimilation in our digestive tracts. Roots are a rich source of nutritious complex carbohydrates. Unlike refined sugar, root vegetables are a natural source of sugar so they do not cause spikes in blood sugar levels.
            Long roots, like burdock, parsnips, and daikon radish are excellent blood purifiers, help circulation in the body, increase mental clarity, and more! Round roots, like turnips, radishes, and rutabagas are nourishing to the stomach, spleen, pancreas, and reproductive organs and can help regulate blood sugar and moods, and even alleviate cravings for sweets if you eat them with ample protein and good fat. Furthermore, roots supply more nutrients and fewer calories than grains and add vibrant color and flavors to meals.
Carrots, sweet potatoes, and beets are three of the healthiest root vegetables and three of my favorites. Here’s why and how you can prepare them!

1.)   Carrots- Carrots are rich in beta-carotene a powerful antioxidant. If possible, buy them fresh from your local farmer’s market where they usually have the freshest, strongest flavors. Eat them raw or lightly roasted with a drizzle of olive oil. Roasting carrots helps the beta-carotene become more easily digestible. I personally like my carrots shredded on a salad.

2.)   Sweet Potatoes – Sweet potatoes are rich in beta-carotene, calcium, vitamin A and B6. This root boosts energy and is heart healthy. Steam and mash sweet potatoes for a healthy side dish that can end up tasting more like dessert than a veggie. Just be careful: Do not to add the extras like butter and marshmallows that are high in calories and fat.

3.)   Beets – Beets contain potassium and fiber and are an excellent source of folate. They also reduce inflammation, which is important during the winter months when many people get sick, and may protect against the development of cancer cells. I personally like raw beet salads.
Root vegetables are delicious roasted, cut up and put in stews, boiled, and served in salads! I repeat: Keep your root vegetable recipes healthy by flavoring them with fresh herbs, olive oil and ghee, and skipping the butter and cream! Plain potatoes are even a healthy root veggie; just keep the skin on if possible because that’s where all the vitamins and minerals are. To make you root veggies sweet, add raw honey and cinnamon; raw honey & cinnamon are rich with health benefits. Now, that sounds like a fall treat!!
  While root vegetables are a natural sugar, they are a high-sugar carbohydrate. If you are trying to lose weight, it is best to keep your root vegetable intake minimal. Get your vitamins and minerals from other vegetables that are not sugary, like green vegetables. Even if you are not trying to lose weight, root vegetables should be consumed in moderation. They are great as sides. Please do not overeat root vegetables because your blood sugar levels will get too high and you will not feel good. I personally do not eat much root vegetables because my body does not like the sugar. I do like occasional beet salads, sometimes carrots in my salads, and yams at the holidays.

I hope you learned something about root vegetables that perhaps can help you heal or inspire you to cook a delicious new meal or maybe remind you how much you love a certain veggie!

Bon Appetit!

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