Health Benefits of Beetroot

The ancient Romans considered beet juice to be an aphrodisiac and used it as a digestive aid and a treatment for blood illnesses. Today, beet is used as a source of sugar and as a food colourant besides being . They are also used in condiments, desserts, jams, jellies and even breakfast cereals. Hailing from the chenopod family, beets are related to superfoods like spinach and quinoa. With more health benefits being discovered every day, we recommend that you make beets your new best friend.

The health ride

  1. Beetroots are richer than Donald Trump. In antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, that is.
  2. They contain nutrients like magnesium, sodium, potassium, manganese and vitamin C.
  3. Beets are a source of betaine, which lowers blood pressure and the risk of heart disease. They also improve overall cardiovascular health and have anti-inflammatory properties. Betaine also protects against liver disease caused by alcohol, lack of protein or diabetes.
  4. Beets get their rich red colour from the phytonutrient called betalains which is rich in antioxidants. In particular, they improve eyesight and overall nerve tissue health. Betalains also trigger the flushing out of toxins, helping the body detox when consumed.
  5. Apart from being a fantastic source of digestive fibre, tests have shown that beets might be able to fight cancers of the colon, stomach, lung, breast and prostate. 

The beet zone
In India, beetroots are normally average to small-sized. These are ideal for eating or storing. Be sure to look for beets that are firm, smooth-skinned and deep coloured. Avoid ones that are not rich in colour, shrivelled or fibrous and tough. When storing, trim the leaves two inches from the root and store in vacuumed plastic bags for up to 10 days. Wash beets before use, not before storage. You can also freeze beets as they retain their freshness for a long time.

Eat it right
They are crunchy and hard when raw, and buttery soft when cooked. Consume at least one whole medium-sized or one-and-a-half small-sized beet at a time to get the maximum benefit. Do remember that beets stain the skin, so you might consider wearing gloves. Else simply rub lemon juice to remove the stains. We recommend three ways to eat beetroots.

Steamed: Rinse under cold water, keeping the skin intact. Cut beets and steam lightly for 15 minutes. This is the best way to render them tender and retain all phytonutrients like betalains. Peel the skin after steaming — we suggest rubbing the skin off with paper napkins. Sprinkle salad dressing to taste and enjoy.

Raw: Beets are great when turned into juice. They can also be grated into salads and soups as a colourful garnish.
Grilled, roasted or in soup: Grill them, roast them or turn them into European borscht — beets are yummy either way. Needing very little dressing, they’re a great side dish on their own or when combined with other veggies.

Note: Adding lemon juice or vinegar while cooking keeps the colour of beets intact. Adding baking soda turns them dark purple. Salt pales beets, so add it right before eating.