Beetroot a superfood? Well it’s certainly nothing new, it was first cultivated by the Romans but now produced by many countries and some of the classic beetroot recipes including borscht (Poland’s famous beetroot soup) are associated with countries in Eastern and Central Europe. It’s known to have exceptional nutritional value and belongs to the same family as chard and spinach, both the root and leaves which are especially good, rich in calcium, iron and vitamins A and C can be eaten. Due to its high sugar content, beetroot is delicious eaten raw but is more typically cooked or pickled.
Beetroots are an excellent source of folic acid and a very good source of fibre, manganese and potassium. Beetroot is also rich in fibre, good for bowel function, and may help to lower cholesterol levels too. The fibre has been shown to increase the level of antioxidant enzymes in the body, as well as increase the number of white blood cells, which are responsible for detecting and eliminating abnormal cells. They are also one of the richest sources of glutamine, an amino acid, essential to the health and maintenance of the intestinal tract.
Beetroots have long been used for medicinal purposes, primarily for disorders of the liver as they help to stimulate the liver’s detoxification processes. The plant pigment that gives beetroot its rich, purple-crimson colour is betacyanin which is thought to suppress the development of some types of cancer.
Studies have looked at the effect of beetroot juice on blood pressure and showed that nitrate rich foods like beetroot may help in heart attack survival. Scientists believe our body converts nitrates into nitric oxide, a chemical thought to lower blood pressure and a reduction in blood pressure is beneficial for the avoidance of heart disease and stroke.
Research showed that drinking juice from beetroot can improve oxygenation to the brain, slowing the progression of dementia in older adults. Blood flow to certain areas of the brain decrease with age and leads to a decline in cognition and possible dementia. Consuming beetroot juice as part of a high nitrate diet could improve the blood flow and oxygenation to these areas that are lacking.
Beetroot juice supplementation has been shown to improve muscle oxygenation during exercise, suggesting that increased dietary nitrate intake has the potential to enhance exercise tolerance during long-term endurance exercise. Quality of life for those with cardiovascular, respiratory, or metabolic diseases, who find the activities of daily living physically difficult because of lack of oxygenation, could also be improved.
However you like your beetroot – in a risotto, power juice, hummus, chutney, soup, a delicious beetroot chocolate cake or maybe just plain with salad, enjoy these nutrient packed veggies they are virtually fat free, very low in calories and count towards your recommended daily intake of vegetables.