Beetroot belongs to the same family as spinach and chard. They have a sweet, rich and earthy flavour and are most commonly either pickled or used as the main ingredient in a traditional European soup called borscht. Beetroots were originally cultivated by the Romans and by the 19th century they had huge commercial value as it was discovered that they could be converted into sugar. They have a wide season (from July to January) and are relatively easy to grow at home!
Why is it good for me?
- Reduces blood pressure – preliminary research has demonstrated that beetroot can be effective in reducing blood pressure (and therefore the risks associated with high blood pressure such as stroke, heart attack etc.). It is thought that 250ml of beetroot juice or 100g of cooked beetroot per day can have the desired effect. This is thought to be due to the nitrate content which helps to relax and dilate your arteries.
- High in antioxidants – beetroot achieves its beautiful deep purple colour from the antioxidant betacyanin. This is thought to reduce LDL cholesterol levels. Betalain (also found in beetroot) is thought to aid recovery from exercise, reducing muscle soreness and preventing inflammation.
- Low in fat and calories – beetroot is virtually fat free and contains on 38kcal per 100g.
What can I do with it?
- Baked beetroot and sweet potato – cover 2 large beetroots with foil and place in the oven for 1-1.5 hours at 190°C. Allow to cool, then peel and cut into large cubes. Cut the raw sweet potato into cubes the same size as the beetroot cubes. Place them all on a baking tray and bake in the oven at 190°C for 40-60 minutes.
- Lentils with roasted beetroots and carrots
- Beetroot burgers
- If you have them, you can also eat the beet tops (the greens). Try steaming them with some kale or chard.
N.B. lemon juice is great for removing any stains you have on your fingers after preparing beetroot.
N.B. don’t be alarmed if you urine or stools have a slightly pink/red tinge after eating beetroot – this is nothing to worry about!