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 in its raw form contains approximately 87.6% water, 9.6% carbs, 1.6% protein, 0.2% fats and 2.8% fiber. (4)
You will be glad to know that a 100g of cooked beetroot has only 44 calories. (5)
The table below will show you the nutritional breakdown of beetroot:
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.