Beetroot is scientifically known as Beta vulgaris and Shamandar in middle eastern countries. (1)
Its domestication dates back to Neolithic times and is probably among the first green leafy plants to be consumed by mankind.
Did you know?
The ancient Greeks held beetroot in high esteem and included in the offerings to the sun god Apollo in his temple at
Delphi, reckoning it worth its own weight in silver. (2)
They come in different varieties which are distinguished by their colour: red, white, golden or striped. (3)
Beetroot consists of 8 to 10% carbohydrates of which 70% are simple sugars like glucose and fructose.
It is a source of fructans which may cause digestive issues in some folks.
A glycemic index (GI) of 64 and load of 4 means that it will not have a major effect on your blood sugar. (38)
It is a rich source of fiber which aids in the protection of your body from many diseases and chronic issues. (39)
Beetroots are rich sources of several vitamins and minerals like folate, manganese, potassium, iron and vitamin C
which are essential for the optimal functioning of your body.
It also contains other beneficial plant compounds like betanin, inorganic nitrate and vulgaxanthin. (31)
Beetroot has been well researched to provide many health benefits like the ones described below: –
The consumption of beetroot has been shown to strengthen endogenous antioxidant defences which protects your cells from oxidative damage with its rich source of antioxidant compounds.
They include betalain pigments, highly bioactive phenolics like rutin, epicatechin and caffeic acid.
It contains nitrite compounds which are known to provide similar benefits.
Consuming beetroot in juice form protects your body from oxidative damage to your DNA, lipid and protein structures. (6)
Inflammation is considered a normal biological response to infection, trauma and other pathogens.
Beetroot has emerged as potent anti-inflammatory agents which has led to its potential use in immune cell function related diseases. (6)
NO plays a key role in maintaining your endothelial function by regulating the activities of your inner blood vessel lining.
The depletion of No has been identified as a leading cause of endothelial dysfunction as we age. (6)
Drinking 500 ml of beetroot juice has been shown to preserve endothelial function. (14)
Lower systolic blood pressure (SBP) was observed in a study involving 15 men and 15 women who consumed 500 g of beetroot and apple juice after 6 hours.
A significant reduction of 4 – 5 mmHg in SBP was observed in men.
This suggests that healthy men could supplement their regular diet with beetroot juice to lower their blood pressure. (15)
This evidence is backed up by more clinical trials conducted between 2006 and 2012 which involved a total of 254 participants. (16)
One of the main triggers for this phenomenon is impaired Nitric Oxide (NO) activity.
This could lead to neurodegeneration and cognitive deficits. (20)
Therefore, the addition of a NO generator like beetroot in your diet could potentially improve your cerebral blood flow and cognitive function. (6)
The consumption of whole beetroot (200 g) as opposed to other nitrate sources has been shown to boost a person’s running capacity on a treadmill by 5%. (21)
A single dose of beetroot juice (70 ml) has been researched to enhance cycling performance in time-trials and at high altitudes. (22)
Besides enhancing cycling and running performance, consumption of beetroot juice boosts cardiorespiratory endurance in athletes by increasing the time-to-exhaustion. (23)
Beetroot juice may be consumed as a post-workout beverage to recover certain aspects of your dynamic muscle function in team sports which involve a lot of short sprints. (24)
It may enhance the performance of individuals who participate in intermittent exercises. (25)
Beetroot is one of the most reliable vegetables to grow from seed, and the young leaves (eat raw, in salads) are a bonus crop.
“Boltardy” is probably the most widely available and reliable variety, and produces the classic red colour.
“Detroit Dark Red” and “Sanguina” are the sweeter and less earthy options.
Sow seeds in early spring, and at intervals until early summer, direct into a drill or pot in an open, sunny site.
Thin once the baby beets have reached an edible size and leave the rest to grow a little bigger.
Aim for 5 – 10 cm / 2 – 4 in between each plant.
Rows should be 20 cm / 8 in apart.
Weed and water as necessary.
Keep an eye out for slugs and snails.
Use the thinnings first, but do not let the remaining roots get too big, as they lose both sweetness and tenderness the larger they grow.
Harvest when the beets are bigger than a golf ball but smaller than a tennis ball. (36)
The best ones are dark in colour with a smooth surface.
Small ones are more flavourful while bigger ones will become soft, fibrous or wrinkled.
Eat them fresh to receive the most nutrients. (34)
Beetroots generally last for a few weeks unless they are stored in a cool place such as a root cellar in sand or sawdust. (34)
I personally store them in the fridge.
Looking for some creative ways on how to incorporate beetroot into your diet? Here are some great ones to try:
Preparation: 5 mins
1 raw beetroot, peeled and grated
1 heaped tbsp. chopped mint
1 tbsp agave syrup
a small handful of blueberries (frozen ones are fine)
250 ml almond milk
Place all ingredients in a blender and whizz until they are fully combined.
Pour into a glass and enjoy! (26)
Preparation: 20 mins
Cooking Time: 30 mins
100g puy lentils
500ml of chicken or vegetable stock
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves of garlic
2 cooked beetroot, grated
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp coriander
2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp cumin
½ tsp thyme
1 tsp chilli powder
salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 large field mushrooms
a little gem lettuce
Preheat oven to 180 deg. C / 350 deg. F / gas 4.
Place the lentils in the stock and simmer until soft.
Meanwhile, sauté the onion gently in the olive oil until translucent, stirring frequently.
Add the chopped garlic and cook for a further minute.
Once the lentils are soft, place in a food processor and blend with the onion mix, grated beetroot, egg, lentils, breadcrumbs, herbs and spices and season to taste.
Shape the mix into burgers on a flour-covered board, and dust the burgers lightly with flour.
Place on a greased baking tray.
Drizzle the field mushrooms with olive oil and place on a baking tray in the oven at the same time.
Cook for half an hour until the burgers are crispy and hot and the mushrooms soft.
Turn the burgers half way through cooking.
Place each burger in a bun, put a mushroom on each and top with Stilton.
Serve with little gem lettuce. (27)
600 g medium beetroot
2 large carrots
1 medium onion
2 sticks celery
1 small fennel bulb
100 ml olive oil
3 cloves garlic
½ red chilli (optional)
Peel and juice of 1 orange
1 small bunch dill, picked into leaves and stalks
1 medium-sweet apple – Braeburn, Jonagold or similar, for the garnish
Juice of ½ lemon
1 large Bramley apple, cored and diced
Approximately 500 ml vegetable stock or water
A little extra orange juice or lemon juice (optional)
150 ml soured cream
Wash and scrub the beetroot very well, removing the leaf end and any root tendrils still remaining.
If they have very rough skins, you may like to peel them.
Cut roughly into pieces approximately the size of walnuts.
Peel and cut the carrots and onion in the same way.
Wash and roughly chop the celery and fennel.
Preheat the oven to 180 deg. C
In a shallow heavy-based saucepan (which will also serve as a roasting dish), heat the olive oil, garlic, chilli if using, and orange peel for a few minutes until fragrant.
Add the chopped vegetables and cook together over a high heat until they start to colour around the edges (approximately 5 – 7 minutes).
Add the orange juice, dill stalks, salt and enough water to half cover the vegetables, and bring to the boil.
Place in the oven, uncovered, to roast for up to 45 minutes.
Meanwhile, quarter, peel and core the garnish apple and cut into very small dice.
Place in a bowl with the lemon juice and salt.
Pick a few dill springs for the garnish to be used later, and chop the rest, and add this to the diced apple.
Test the beetroot with a skewer and, when almost tender, remove the pan from the oven.
Taking care, as the pan will be searing hot, add the Bramley apple pieces and enough cold water or stock to just cover the vegetables.
Stir well together, bring to the boil and then simmer, covered, for 15-20 minutes or until all the vegetables are soft.
Allow to cool for a few minutes, then little by little, place the contents of the pan into a food processor or liquidiser and puree until smooth.
Pass through a medium-gauge sieve into a clean pan.
Taste and adjust consistency if necessary.
We sometimes add a touch of orange or lemon juice to the finished soup if it needs a little “kick”.
Heat or chill the soup and garnish with a dollop of soured cream, dill sprigs and a little pile of the diced apple in the middle of each bowl. (28)
Preparation: 15 mins
Cooking time: 20 mins
2 tbsp olive oil
2 large red onions, finely sliced
A small bunch of thyme leaves, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
250g puff pastry
200g cooked beetroot, sliced
100g goat’s cheese, sliced
Rocket leaves and balsamic vinegar to serve
Preheat oven to 200 deg. C / 400 deg. F / gas 6.
Heat the olive oil and gently cook the onions with most of the thyme until soft and translucent.
Season to taste. Reserve the remaining thyme to scatter on top.
Roll out the puff pastry, prick all over with a fork and bake for ten minutes.
Gently push the middle down if it has risen in the oven, or you can use ceramic baking beans to prevent it rising.
Spread the onion mixture over the puff pastry base and arrange the slices of beetroot and goat’s cheese (feta) on top.
Scatter over the remaining thyme leaves.
Bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until the pastry is golden-brown.
Serve with the rocket and balsamic vinegar salad.
Alkaline solutions will turn beetroot juice yellow while Acidic solutions will make it pink. (29)
1 tbsp coconut oil
300g cooked beetroot (not in vinegar), roughly chopped
200g canned kidney beans, drained and rinsed
100g canned sweetcorn kernels, drained and rinsed
2 spring onions, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tbsp tamari or soy sauce
400g cooked short-grain brown rice
50g roasted cashew nuts
Heat the coconut oil in a frying pan over a medium heat.
Add the beetroot, kidney beans, sweetcorn and most of the spring onions and fry for 3-4 minutes, until warmed through.
Add the garlic and cook for a further 30 seconds until aromatic.
Add the tamari or soy sauce and the cooked rice, and mix together until thoroughly combined.
Serve in bowls scattered with the remaining spring onions and cashew nuts. (35)
Prep 10 mins
Cook 45 mins
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp mustard seeds
1 tbsp fenugreek seeds
10 curry leaves
1 green chilli, deseeded and finely sliced
1 onion, finely chopped
1-2 tsp chilli powder, or to taste
500 g (1 lb 2 oz) beetroot (beet), peeled and thinly sliced
1 tsp salt
75 ml (2 ½ fl oz / 5 tbsp) coconut milk
Heat the oil in a large saucepan on a medium heat until very hot.
Add the mustard seeds and fenugreek seeds.
As soon as they begin to pop and splutter, add the curry leaves, chilli and onion.
Stir-fry for 10 minutes until golden brown.
Add the chilli powder and stir-fry for 1 minute, then add the beetroot.
Stir, pour in 400 ml (13 ½ fl oz / 1 2/3 cups) boiling water, add the salt, then cover and simmer for 30 minutes, or until the beetroot is completely soft.
Stir through the coconut milk and simmer, uncovered, for a further 5 minutes.
Taste and season with more salt as needed, then serve. (37)
Depending on how your beetroot is prepared, it may range anywhere from 31 to 65 calories for every 100 grams consumed. (30)
It is considered a root vegetable and not a fruit. (31)
This condition is known as beeturia and is commonly seen in 10 – 14% of the population who has iron deficiency and malabsorption. (32)
Amazon is a great place to shop for beetroot juice for an affordable price of $0.17 / fl oz.
Absolutely! You can add them to salads with a little dressing to consume them raw. (33)
Since regular consumption of beetroot lowers your systolic blood pressure, it is good for your blood health. (6)
You can easily find them in your local grocery stores or even supermarkets.
You can refer to our recipes section.
Beetroot can be consumed in many ways. You can add them to dishes, consume them raw, use them in your pastries, in juice, powder, capsule or raw forms.
Published on 4 Sep 2017