If you ever have problems with scanty periods, iron deficiency, pallor and low energy, or you have a chronic illness that depletes everything you’ve got, blood building may be a good dietary goal for you. This doesn’t mean scarfing all the red meat (though this is definitely helpful for getting bioavailable heme-iron). Plenty of plant foods can help “build blood” by deeply nourishing your cells and providing you the right building blocks for creating the essentials – like your blood! This Strawberry Beet Smoothie may be for you!
As we know, nature tends to provide clear signs as to what supports what, so it may be no surprise that all red foods support blood building. Also on this list are purple/blue berries and deep leafy greens. But before you go overboard on one red food or another, it may be helpful to realize that they can act differently in the body. I will keep this simple and give just a couple examples to think about.
Traditional medicine theories look to the energetic qualities of a substance to provide a hint at how they work in the body. Beets are nourishing with an earthy, deep, and rich quality. They are sweet, cooling, and damp – exactly like blood. Strawberries are also sweet and cooling, but they have a warmer quality that I feel is shown in their much brighter, hotter colour. If you think about how these foods grow – beets develop underground, deeply resonant of the earth in which they cloak themselves, while strawberries are ripened and flavoured by the sun, glowing brightly to signal the arrival of summer. Beets are rich in minerals, while strawberries are rich in vitamin C. Both are rich in antioxidants – imperitive for cardiovascular health.
So why might this matter? People have different constitutions and even more people have imbalances of these constitutions. A fiery person or an inflammatory imbalance may do better with less red berries and more deeply hued, cooling plants like beets, blueberries and leafy greens such as collards and kale. Their mineral-rich cooling qualities will help balance the heat in the blood and keep that person connected to the earth.
Someone of a more water and earth type or an imbalance producing stagnation, congestion, excess weight, and water retention needs some extra warmth to keep them dry, flowing, warm, and energized. Bright reds are more helpful here, such as sun-ripened berries and peppers, and red meats are helpful here also. Always be careful not to push your pendulum too far in the opposite direction, and be mindful of what your body is asking for. Keeping a good balance may look like combining cool and warm to create a strong support and keep your blood flowing.
Strawberry Beet Smoothie
2/3 c. strawberries (if frozen, thaw first)
1/4 c. steamed beet, chopped
1 cup of leafy greens
1 tsp ground flax or hempseed
2 c. water (or hibiscus/rosehip tea for added vitamin C)
Pinch ginger (optional, for warmth)
1 Tbsp collagen (optional, for gut/joint healing)
Add all ingredients to a blender and blend away. Enjoy!