Low In Sugar And Heart Healthy: Flavorful Fermented Beets
Because beets have a moderately high sugar content, it’s typically recommended that people watching their glucose levels limit beet consumption.
However, when beets are fermented they are transformed into a tart and tangy low-sugar vegetable that can liven-up a salad or veggie dish.
This transformation occurs because most of the sugar in beets serves as food for the bacteria involved in the fermentation process. Yet, fermented beets have the same nutrient value as raw beets, and they supply our gut with beneficial bacteria and enzymes.
Beet Benefits For Diabetes
Beets are a valuable food for people with diabetes since they support the cardiovascular and immune systems, helping to prevent heart disease, and to avoid or fight infections. For instance:
- The naturally occurring nitrates in beets have been shown to substantially reduce blood pressure. The body morphs nitrates into nitric oxide that improves circulation by helping to relax and dilate blood vessels. Studies also show that beet juice can increase athletic stamina, and boosts the muscle strength of people diagnosed with heart failure.
- Beets are rich in folate, a B vitamin that reduces the risk for stroke.
- Another naturally occurring substance in beets, betaine, protects against the effects of stress, and helps reduce the inflammation associated with heart disease, and other chronic conditions.
- The high vitamin C, potassium, manganese, and fiber content in beets supports and strengthens the immune system.
Beets also provide sulfer-containing amino acids and betalin pigments that play a role in our body’s detoxification process, helping to purify our liver, and bloodstream.
Fermented Beet Juice
One way to get the low-glycemic health benefits of fermented beets is by drinking, or cooking with fermented beet juice, called kvass. In Russia and East European countries, beet kvass has long been consumed as a health tonic, and it’s added to sauces, vinaigrettes, and soups.
For those who like to experiment in the kitchen, recipes for beet kvass, such as this one, are plentiful online:
- Fill a large-mouth mason jar one-third full with beet chunks. Add pickle or sauerkraut juice, salt, and water/beet juice, leaving a 2 inch space between the lid and the top of the liquid. Flavorings can also be added, such as strawberries, fresh or dried mint leaves, ginger, apple, or cinnamon. Cover tightly; shake well to dissolve the salt.
- The jar should be at room temperature for three to five days, or up to seven days during colder months. Keep the jar tightly sealed, but briefly loosen the lid each day to relieve the pressure. If scum, froth, or mold develops, just skim it off using a spoon.
- Do a daily taste test. Once the kvass has a pleasing flavor, place the jar in the fridge to halt fermentation. Or, look for fizzy bubbles floating to the top—it’s a sign the kvass is ready.
If desired, the kvass can be separated from the beets by straining the juice into another container. The beets can be eaten or used to make another kvass batch.
Because kvass is a powerful detoxifier, it’s recommended that people start by drinking just an ounce each day, and gradually increase the amount up to one cup per day. Refrigerated, kvass should retain its rich store of antioxidants for about 30 days.