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Dietitians Say Pickled Beets Improve Digestion At Any Age

By Georgia Dodd,


Fermented foods like sauerkraut and pickles make for great sandwich toppings, but did you know that they’re also great sources of probiotics? Probiotics are good bacteria that help improve digestion, boost immunity, and lose weight. Eating pickled foods that are high in fiber, particularly prebiotic-rich foods, is essential for a healthy gut, and they make a great snack !

In particular, there is one fermented, probiotic-packed food that you can add to your diet for a healthy dose of good bacteria. We spoke with Amy Shapiro MS, a registered dietitian and founder of Real Nutrition NYC , about the pickled food that you should eat every day for healthier digestion. She said that you should start adding pickled beets to your plate to keep your gut balanced! Read more about her expert insight below!

Foods to avoid

Before we talk about pickled foods, let's first discuss the foods you should avoid if you have digestive problems. Shapiro recommends avoiding cruciferous vegetables like Brussels sprouts , kale, broccoli, and cauliflower. Cruciferous refers to plants of the cabbage family. She says that "beans/legumes for some may cause digestive issues, foods with added fibers, sugar alcohols (erythritol, xylitol)" can cause digestive issues like diarrhea, gas, and bloating. Similarly, over-processed foods can cause constipation and digestive discomfort.
And, certain people may want to cut dairy products out of their diet because they "contain lactose which many individuals can not digest and some individuals may want to avoid soy or gluten." Shapiro also says that thickeners and fillers used in alternative milk products like "guar gum, xanthan gum, carrageenan, etc." may also cause digestive problems. But, remember that everyone is different so just test out what your body can handle. If you have any specific allergies or intolerances this list of foods to avoid will vary.

Pickled beets

Pickling is the act of preserving food by either anaerobic (without air) fermentation in brine or immersion in vinegar. Usually, you can pickle foods for several weeks in a jar. The pickling procedure typically affects both the food's texture and flavor. Some common fermented foods include pickled cucumbers, sauerkraut, peppers, tomatoes, carrots, and more. Pickled foods fermented for several weeks are a fantastic source of probiotics .

These “good” bacteria help support better digestion and an overall healthier immune system. Probiotics are even linked to faster weight loss and improved cognitive health. Shapiro emphasizes that all pickled foods can boost your gut health because of their high fiber and probiotic content. She notes that the "fiber acts as food for the probiotics; [therefore,] eating a pickled vegetable kills two birds with one stone!" She says her favorite fermented food for healthier digestion is pickled beets.

"They are rich in fiber, have added probiotics, add tons of flavor, contain polyphenols to fight cellular oxidation in the body, and contain compounds that help with blood pressure and exercise recovery," Shapiro explains. "Also, pickled beets may help to manage blood sugar levels which will maintain energy levels since they are often pickled with vinegar and vinegar has been shown to help balance blood sugar levels. Most people do not cook beets so pickled beets add flavor and color to your plate easily." Noted! Now we just have to find ways to add pickled beets to our diet every day. Thankfully, Shapiro has some suggestions!

How to add pickled beets to your diet

Beetroot is a truly versatile vegetable. There are numerous ways you can add them to your everyday diet. Including beets in your smoothies with other fruits and vegetables is a great way to sweeten the taste. And, you could also mix beets into your pasta sauce with an herb sauce. Adding beets to your pasta not only "beautify" your meal to a purple-pink hue, but it also provides an earthy and tangy taste to the meal.

But, adding beets to your diet goes beyond a great flavor and presentation, it also serves as an essential source of fibers, vitamins, and other nutrients that your body needs to function. Shapiro also recommends adding beets to your salad for "flavor, pop, and brightness." The following recipe that Shapiro provides is a great way to add pickled beets to your diet.

2 cups of leafy greens, sliced cucumbers, and sliced pears
2 TBSP walnuts
1/2 cup of pickled beets, goat cheese, olive oil, and vinegar

Bottom line

Fermented foods, like pickled beets, contain loads of good bacteria or probiotics. The bacteria that we eat hang out in our guts and influence our health. That's why filling our guts with probiotics is a great first step toward a stronger gut . Fermented foods also often contain a plethora of healthy qualities, like protein, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. By adding fermented foods like pickled beats to your plate every day, you can prevent digestive problems like gas, bloating, and indigestion, but it will also improve your overall health!

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