Red Beetroot Facts & Health Benefits
The beetroot (Beta vulgaris) is a common root vegetable that that grows as a round bulb with a leafy top poking out above the soil. The beetroots stand out from other root vegetables due to their dark red colour.
In recent year the Beetroot has made a grand comeback and been crowned a ‘superfood’ due to its high levels of antioxidants, which give them their rich purple colour. Beetroots are also an excellent source of iron, fibre, vitamin A, C and a range of B vitamins.
Historically the humble beetroot was generally used for dyes and natural medicinal purposes to aid in lowering triglyceride levels in the blood and enhance sexual performance.
Today, beetroots are inexpensive and most often used for dips and salads. The root can also be made into beet juice, which is popular for detoxification juicing. Beets need to be washed and the greens removed prior to cooking; they don’t have to be peeled.
Red beets may be the most familiar variety, but beets come in a rainbow of colours. Yellow, white, and even candy-striped (with red and white concentric circles) beets are available in specialty markets. Sugar beets are used to make table sugar.
The leaves and roots of beetroots are packed with nutrition including antioxidants that fight cell damage and reduce the risk of heart disease. They’re one of the few vegetables that contain betalains, a powerful antioxidant that gives beets their vibrant colour. Betalains reduce inflammation and may help protect against cancer and other diseases.
Beetroot bulbs have many helpful plant compounds that reduce inflammation and protect cells from damage. Some of the other health benefits of beetroot include:
The beetroot and its juice help your heart and lungs work better during exercise. Nitric oxide from beetroots increases blood flow to your muscles.
Prevent Heart Disease and Stroke
Beetroots are rich in folate (vitamin B9) which helps cells grow and function. Folate plays a key role in controlling damage to blood vessels, which can reduce the risk of heart disease ad stroke.
Lowers Blood Pressure
Beetroots are naturally high in nitrate, which are turned into nitric oxide in the body. This compound lowers blood pressure by causing the blood vessels to relax and widen.
Boost Your Immune System
Beetroots are high in fibre and promote the growth of good bacteria in your gut. Having plenty of healthy bacteria in your digestive system helps fight disease and boost your immune system. Fibre also improves digestion and reduces the risk of constipation.
In addition to the above-average nutrient content, beetroot mainly consists of water. About 87% of the root consists of water and is supplemented by 8% carbohydrates and 3% fibre. 100 grams contain only about 42 calories and at the same time only 0.1 grams of fat.
Beets are best described as having an earthy flavour with a surprising amount of sweetness for a root vegetable. Some people describe the earthiness as tasting like dirt and dislike beets for that reason. However, when cleaned properly and cooked, that earthy taste typically goes away.
Although beets can be eaten raw, they are generally boiled, baked, steamed, fried, grilled before eating. Beetroots must be thoroughly washed first to remove all of the dirt that comes with root vegetables.
Cut off the taproot and leaves, saving the greens to prepare for salads and or swiss chard. To retain the vegetable’s nutrients and colour, cook the beets without peeling first. The skin easily rubs off under cold running water after cooking.
To store beets, trim the leaves 2 inches from the root as soon as you get home. The leaves will sap the moisture from the beetroot. Do not trim the taproot. Store the leaves in a separate plastic bag and use within two days. The root bulbs should also be bagged and stored in the refrigerator’s crisper for seven to 10 days. Cooked beets may be refrigerated up to one week.
Fresh cooked beets may also be frozen up to 10 months, either whole or cut. Be sure to peel before freezing in airtight containers or baggies, leaving no air in the container. Pickling beets is another popular method of preservation.
Beetroot juice will stain skin and porous surfaces; it’s used as a natural dye for foods and fabric. Rub your hands with wet salt and lemon juice and then wash with soap and water. To clean chopping boards, containers or other stained plastics, use
coarse salt and lemon juice. Sprinkle the salt liberally over the board, then slice a lemon in half and use it to rub the salt into the board
Beetroot on the menu
Beets add a colourful flair to dishes, even beyond salad and soup. There are plenty of recipes in which you can explore this vegetable’s full potential.
Beetroot relish is a delicious way to use up leftover beetroots. It can be used in the same ways as a chutney or jam, and makes a beautiful addition to sandwiches, burgers, salads, cheese boards, and more!
Roasting brings out the full sweetness of this lovely vegetable. The process is simple and straightforward, yielding beets with an intensified sweet flavour and no compromise on texture.