For as long as I can remember, I would describe nutrition to my clients using a continuum. The example I would use is: "In the ideal nutrition world, you would choose the organic apple. If you can't do the organic apple, then choose the conventional apple. The conventional apple is still better than the candied apple." Everything worked along that continuum, and you would just aim to get the best you could, at that time, in that place. Of course the candy apple isn't a health food, and I don't recommend eating them, but you get the idea. The conventional apple, while not the best, is still better than the candy apple. The same thing would go for a potato: choose an organic sweet potato first and the conventional sweet potato as your second choice. Both would all be better than the french fried potato.
But there is a slight hiccup in my theory, and now, I cannot use that example for all fruits and veggies, like I used to. What changed?
Beets. That's what changed. Here I was, thinking that all beets were one of the best foods for the body. They are great for detoxing the liver, and chock full of nutrition for the body. In fact, even the beet stems and greens are some of the healthiest part of the food. And this is still true. But it's only true of an organic beet. (and an organic beet is still one of the healthiest foods we can eat for the body!) See, beets are a root vegetable that essentially "sucks up" everything in it's surrounding soil. This includes nutrients as well as chemicals, toxins, and pesticides. Therefore, a non-organic beet is, in essence, full of chemicals, glyphosate from the "roundup" pesticide that is sprayed on almost all non-organic conventional & GMO foods.
While pro-GMO activists say that glyphosate is completely safe for humans, and that it breaks down fully and non-harmfully, this is just what they want you to think. In reality, it breaks down into AMPA, a metabolite that's chemical structure can stay stored in the human body as a toxin, wreaking havoc on your organs and toxic load of the body.
So, what does this have to do with beets? Well, the "health food industry" wants you to believe that all beets are created equal. They want you to believe that a conventionally grown, genetically modified beet is just as nutritious as the organic beet. In reality, the conventional beet is full of pesticides (because remember, the beet sucks up everything in it's surrounding soil). So, never again should you eat a non-organic beet.
But what the health food industry is doing, and they had me fooled as well until just about a few weeks ago, is starting to use beet sugar as a "healthy" sweetener. You would think that this would be a much better sweetener alternative than regular sugar, since it comes directly from one of the healthiest foods on the planet. But in reality, (conventional) beet sugar is many times worse for the body than regular organic cane sugar. Some would even say it's worse than even high fructose corn syrup, simply because of the toxins that the conventional beet soaks up. (Remember when high fructose corn syrup was healthier than sugar because it came from corn?). Today, over 90% of all sugar beets grown in the USA are genetically modified, which means that sugar derived from beets is chock full of toxins.
On my continuum, now I would say, have the organic beet (or organic beet sugar), and if you can't... well then, just don't have that food.
In a nutshell, I would choose not to eat beets or beet sugar in any form, UNLESS it is organic. We don't need to add any more chemicals to our already environmentally chemically imbalanced bodies.
(This is just my opinion. I apologize if you disagree.)
Abby Malmstrom M.S. is an exercise physiologist, certified personal trainer, group fitness instructor, wellness coach, and "real food" nutritionist. Her life as an active duty military spouse takes her all over the world, allowing her to influence, teach, and connect with folks in communities she never even dreamed of reaching. Life's an adventure, so stay tuned for the ride! It's time to "Eat Well, Move Well, Think Well, Be Well."