Benefits of Beetroot
The beetroot is the taproot portion of the beet plant also known in North America as the table beet.
Beetroot, also known simply as the beet, has been gaining in popularity as a new super food due to recent studies claiming that beets and beetroot juice can improve athletic performance, lower blood pressure and increase blood flow. New products incorporating this highly nutritious food are sprouting up everywhere, especially in juices and drinks. Beetroot, or table beets, although from the same family as sugar beets (beta vulgaris), are genetically and nutritionally different. Sugar beets are white in color and commonly used for sugar extraction and sweetening manufactured foods. Sugar cannot be obtained from beetroot, which are most commonly found in red and gold varieties.
2. An introduction to beetroot
Like many modern vegetables, beetroot was first cultivated by the Romans. By the 19th century it held great commercial value when it was discovered that beets could be converted into sugar. Today, the leading commercial producers include the USA, Russia, France, Poland and Germany. Many classic beetroot recipes are associated with central and Eastern Europe including the famous beetroot soup known asborscht. Beetroots earthy charm has resulted in its ubiquitous influence on fashionable menus and recipes. Its delicious but distinctive flavour and nutritional status have escalated it to the root you cant beat!
Both beets and Swiss chard are different varieties within the same plant family (Amaranthaceae Chenopodiaceae) and their edible leaves share a resemblance in both taste and texture. Attached to the beets green leaves is a round or oblong root, the part conjured up in most peoples minds by the word beet. Although typically a beautiful reddish purple hue, beets also come in varieties that feature white, golden/yellow or even rainbow color roots. No matter what their color, however, beet roots arent as hardy as they look; the smallest bruise or puncture will cause red beets red purple pigments (which contain a variety of phytonutrients including betalains and anthocyanins) to bleed, especially during cooking. Betalain pigments in beets are highly water soluble, and they are also temperature sensitive. For both of these reasons, it is important to treat beets as a delicate food, even though they might seem rock solid and difficult to damage.
4. A history of health
Beetroots have long been used for medicinal purposes, primarily for disorders of the liver as they help to stimulate the livers detoxification processes. The plant pigment that gives beetroot its rich, purple crimson colour is betacyanin; a powerful agent, thought tosuppress the development of some types of cancer.Beetroot is rich in fibre, exerting favourable effects on bowel function, which may assist in preventing constipation and help to lower cholesterol levels too.
Beetroot fibre has been shown to increase the level ofantioxidant enzymesin the body, (specifically one called glutathione peroxidase), as well as increase the number ofwhite blood cells, which are responsible for detecting and eliminating abnormal cells. Beets are also one of the richest sources ofglutamine, an amino acid, essential to the health and maintenance of the intestinal tract.
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