The vibrant color and sweet flavor of beets can’t be beet! Now that I got that pun out of my system, let’s talk about incorporating more beets into your diet, starting with this recipe for Turkey Meatballs with Beets and Beet Greens.
Beets and their greens are a rich source of vitamins and micronutrients with health promoting and disease fighting potential. They have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant potential, promote heart health, protect against cognitive decline and feed gut health.
Turkey Meatballs with Beets and Beet Greens
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 25 minutes
- Total Time: 35 minutes
- Yield: 12 meatballs 1x
- 1/2 lb organic lean ground turkey
- 1 cup organic beet root, grated
- 1/2 c onion, chopped
- 1 1/2 Tbsp dill, chopped
- 1 Tbsp oil
- 2 cups beet greens, chopped
- 1 Tbsp Bragg’s Organic Raw Apple Cider Vinegar
- Preheat oven to 350F
- In a bowl, combine turkey, beets, 1/2 of the onion, 2/3 of the dill and salt and pepper to taste
- Form into 10 meatballs balls and place on a greased baking sheet
- Transfer pan to oven and bake 25-30 minutes, until cooked through, shaking the pan halfway through
- In a pan, heat 1 Tbsp oil over medium heat
- Add remaining onion and saute 2-3 minutes
- Add beet greens, apple cider vinegar and 1/4 cup water and cook 3-4 minutes, until water has evaporated and greens are tender
- Serve meatballs over kale and garnish with remaining dill
- Serving Size: 6 meatballs
- Calories: 321.1
- Sugar: 11.8
- Sodium: 267.9
- Fat: 10.2
- Saturated Fat: 1.8
- Unsaturated Fat: 7.6
- Trans Fat: 0
- Carbohydrates: 19.8
- Fiber: 6.1
- Protein: 39.6
- Cholesterol: 80.5
Keywords: gluten free, grain free, dairy free, soy free
Beets get their vibrant color from pigments called betalains. These compounds have been studied for their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant potential. A clinical study of patients with joint pain showed promise for beetroot’s potential to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress (1). Inflammation and oxidative stress have both been linked to various chronic diseases, including cancer (2).
These betalains have further been studied for their anticancer activity. Various animal studies have shown that beetroot extract significantly decreases the growth rate of cancer cells (3, 4). In addition to slowing the growth rate of cancer cells, it has also been shown to reduce inflammation and stimulate apoptosis (5). Apoptosis is a natural cellular process that leads to cell death. Cancer has been linked to insufficient apoptosis, resulting in malignant cells staying in the body (6).
The anti-inflammatory benefits of beetroot extend to heart health. High blood pressure is a significant risk factor for heart disease. Both beet juice and cooked beets have been shown to improve blood pressure. Further, a study demonstrated that beet juice treatment increased good (HDL) cholesterol and decreased bad (LDL) and total cholesterol (7).
These vascular improvements can be attributed to the nitrate content of beets, which converts to nitric oxide (8). Nitric oxide works as a messenger in the body for almost every function and is essential to optimal health. Specific to heart health, nitric oxide positively impacts endothelial function, which plays an important role in platelet health and vascular balance (6).
Nitric oxide also plays a role in brain health. Reduced nitric oxide generation can negatively affect glucose delivery to the brain and cellular communication. Both of these results have been shown to lead to decreased cognitive abilities. Keeping nitric oxide in balance with beetroot could have potential to improve blood flow in the brain. One study showed increased blood flow to the brain after a single serving of beetroot juice (6).
Beets are a good source of fiber, which can balance healthy gut bacteria. Because fiber is not digested, it ends up in the colon where it can feed your good gut bacteria. Not only does this promote healthy digestion, but also enhances immunity (9).
While most studies focus on beetroot, we’d be remiss if we didn’t take advantage of their delicious, tender leafy greens as well. You can find beet roots with their greens in tact at most grocery stores. The greens have a slightly sweet flavor and work in any recipe that calls for greens. Like the root, greens are also a great source of nitrate, along with many other nutrients that have been linked to slowing age-related cognitive decline (10). Further, leafy greens have shown protective effects against diabetes, heart disease and cancer (11). Simple cut the leaves from the roots and cup the green part. There will be a small part of the stalks that don’t have greens, but don’t discard these. Simple chop these and throw them in your sauté for a deliciously sweet crunch!
It should be noted that because beets are a popular GMO crop, it is important to look for organic beets. Additionally, choose lean organic turkey, as it is raised without antibiotics or hormones.
You can make these meatballs with ground chicken or even lamb, so choose your favorite or switch it up from week to week. Try playing with the herbs too. Chicken and thyme or lamb and mint are both great combinations. Even those on a plant-based diet can enjoy these. Try them with shredded jackfruit!
1–2 times per week
Never, or 2–4 times per month
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