When I ask people “What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear beetroot”? They reply; red stained hands or something to pop into your salad. But is there more to this bright red vegetable?
Beetroot or beets are in fact an ancient, prehistoric vegetable that grew naturally along the coastlines in North Africa, Asia, and Europe. Originally, only the beetroots green leaves that were eaten; the sweet red root (that we all enjoy today) wasn’t enjoyed in meals until ancient Rome introduced the red flesh of the beetroot into their meals.
By the 19th century the natural sweetness of the red flesh had started to be used as a source of natural sugar and its been widely reported that, Napoleon was responsible for declaring that beetroots where to be used as a primary source of sugar after when the British restricted access to sugar cane. Even today beetroots are still being used as a raw material in the production of sugar.
Many of us are missing out on their variety of unique health-boosting nutrients because we don’t use the whole of the beetroot in our diet very often.
Why Eat Beetroots?
1. Lower Your Blood Pressure — Drinking beetroot juice can help lower blood pressure in a matter of hours. The benefit likely comes from the naturally occurring nitrates in beetroots, which are converted into nitric oxide in your body. Nitric oxide, in turn, helps to relax and dilate your blood vessels, improving blood flow and lowering blood pressure.
2. Boost Your Stamina — If you need a boost to make it through your next workout, beetroot juice may again prove valuable. Those who drank beet juice prior to exercise were able to exercise for up to 16 percent longer. The benefit is thought to also be related to nitrates turning into nitric oxide, which reduce the oxygen cost of low-intensity exercise as well as enhance tolerance to high-intensity exercise.
3. Fight Inflammation — Beetroots are a unique source of betaine, a nutrient that helps protects cells, proteins, and enzymes from environmental stress. It’s also known to help fight inflammation, protect internal organs, improve vascular risk factors, enhance performance.
4. Rich in Valuable Nutrients and Fiber — Beetroots are high in immune-boosting vitamin C, fiber, and essential minerals like potassium (essential for healthy nerve and muscle function) and manganese (which is good for your bones, liver, kidneys, and pancreas). Beetroots also contain the B vitamin folate, which helps reduce the risk of birth defects.
5. Detoxification Support — The betalin pigments in beets support your body’s Phase 2 detoxification process, which is when broken down toxins are bound to other molecules so they can be excreted from your body. Traditionally, beets are valued for their support in detoxification and helping to purify your blood and your liver.
Why Eat Beetroot Greens?
Most of us simply throw away the green leafy tops to our beetroots and by doing that we are missing as these green leafy goodies are among the healthiest part of the beetrrot. Besides containing important nutrients like protein, phosphorus, zinc, fiber, vitamin B6, magnesium, potassium, copper, and manganese, beetroot greens also supply significant amounts of vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, and iron.
They actually have even more iron than spinach (another leafy green in the same botanical family) as well as a higher nutritional value overall than the beetroot itself.
Research shows that beetroot greens help:
- Boost bone strength
- Fight Alzheimer’s disease
- Strengthen your immune system by stimulating the production of antibodies and white blood cells
These power house greens can be added raw to vegetable juice or sautéed lightly right along with other greens like spinach and Swiss chard.
5 Ways You Can Sneak Beetroot Into Your Diet
This may not sound like the most appetising drink, especially to those who aren’t the biggest beetroot fans, but blending one small beetroot with raw cacao, almond milk, some spinach, and ice actually makes a delicious smoothie. When paired with cacao, beetroot takes on a rich, sweet flavour, so this will taste more like a dessert than a mix of vegetables. It’s healthy and filling too, making it ideal for breakfast time.
Recipe by Spinach Tiger
Beetroot bread rolls
Add some colour to your lunchtime sandwiches with beetroot bread rolls. Simply adjust traditional roll recipes to include a small portion of cooked beetroot and you’ve got tasty bread with a subtle, earthy flavour and a ton of added health benefits. The beetroot will also turn the dough a pretty pink colour.
Beetroot on pizza
An easy way to make a simple cheese pizza more exciting is by switching out traditional pizza toppings for beetroot. The vegetable gives this classic Italian snack more complexity as well as a ton of health benefits. Either roasted or raw and thinly sliced, beetroots make a really great topping especially when paired with goats cheese.
Chocolate beetroot cake
Similar to how raw carrot is used in carrot cakes, beetroots can transform traditional chocolate cakes to make them even more moist, rich and gooey. Simply add the grated vegetable into your cake mix, adjusting other ingredients accordingly. Always use cooked beetroot and never pickled!
Recipe by allrecipes
Quite possibly the easiest beetroot snack to make, you’ll never reach for a bag of store-bought crisps again after you realise how to make these healthy, vegan alternatives. Simple slice beetroot in thin wafers, toss in olive oil, salt and pepper and then bake for about an hour. Crunchy and moreish, serve these with dips at dinner parties and guests won’t even realise they’re eating one of their five-a-day.
How can you add more beetroot goodness to your diet?