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Beetroot

Beet or beetroot is a sweet flavored root vegetable that is usually red in color. It is rich in vitamin C, antioxidants, other nutrients and fiber with a neutral thermal nature. The sweet taste has made the beetroot a favorite in vegetable juices, soups and salads.

Beetroot
The thermal nature is neutral.
The flavour is .
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What it is

Beet is a flowering biennial plant of which there are several varieties. Sugar beet grown for sugar, another variety for animal food, also there is chard that is a beet bred as a leaf vegetable. Then there is Beetroot or table beet (in the 19th century, "blood turnip") eaten as a vegetable. Beetroot is usually red in color (they can come in white or red and white). The red color is from betalain Pigments, which is different from the pigment of most other red vegetables like red cabbage.

Beetroot is one or the sweetest vegetables containing more sugar that most vegetables. It is a good source of vitamin C, vitamin A, folic Acid, antioxidants, silicon and dietary fiber.

Beetroot come in a several different varieties; 
• Albina Vereduna - a white variety.
• Bull's Blood - an open-pollinated variety originally from Britain, known for its dark red foliage. It is grown principally for its leaves, which add color to salads.
• Burpee's Golden - a beet with orange-red skin and yellow flesh.
• Chioggia - an open-pollinated variety originally grown in Italy. The concentric rings of its red and white roots are visually striking when sliced. Chioggia is largely unimproved and has relatively high concentrations of geosmin.
• Detroit Dark Red - has relatively low concentrations of geosmin, and is therefore a popular commercial cultivar in the US.
• India Beet - is not as sweet as Western beet. However India beet is more nutritious than Western beet.
• Lutz Greenleaf - a variety with a red root and green leaves, and a reputation for maintaining its quality well in storage.
• Red Ace - the principal variety of beet found in U.S. supermarkets, typical for its bright red root and red-veined green foliage.


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What is in it

Beetroot is one or the sweetest vegetables containing more sugar that most vegetables.

They are an excellent source of folate, and a very good source of manganese and potassium. Beets are a good source of dietary fiber, vitamin C, magnesium, iron, copper and phosphorus. They are also a useful source of silicon.


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What it is good for

Both the root and the leaves have healing properties.

The Romans used beetroot to treat fevers and constipation. They have several soup recipes to give a laxative effect. They also used the leaves for the binding of wounds.

Since those roman times beetroot juice has been considered an aphrodisiac. They are high in the mineral boron, which is essential in the production of sex hormones.

It is suggested that beetroot can counteract the effects of garlic breath. 

• Strengthens the heart
• Purifies the blood
• Improves circulation
• Benefits the liver
• Promotes menstruation
• Moistens the intestines
• Treats liver stagnation and general ailments
• Treats constipation – particularly from fluid dryness
• Treats congestion of the nervous system.


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When you get it

Beetroot can often be found in markets all through the year, although they are in season and at their best in the winter and spring months.


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Which to select

Select firm vegetables with fresh looking greens (if attached). If you intend to eat the greens, the leaves should be crisp and fresh looking. The bulbs should not be soft or have a wrinkled skin, being firm with a deep color. . Also, avoid beets that are bruised or that have brown discoloration


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Where to store

Store unwashed beetroot in the refrigerator. They should keep very well for 3 to 4 weeks. Do not freeze beetroot as it will become soft and unappealing. Although once you have cooked beetroot is freezes very well.


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How to use

The skin of the beats should be cleaned thoroughly, being careful not to break the skin. Do not peel them before cooking. If you intend to remove the skin, do this once they are cooked. 

Beets can be roasted whole or cut into segments before putting them in the oven. You can boil the beets and then use them in other recipes; they pickled in vinegar or added to sandwiches. Raw beet is a great addition to salads. Grate beetroot and add to salads or on sandwiches for its deep sweet flavor.

The heating process changes the color of beets. If you boil them, adding and acidic ingredient like vinegar or lemon juice during the cooking will brighten the color. Salt will flatten the color if added during the cooking so always add salt once the beets are cooked.

If your hands are stained with beet juice you can remove the stains by rubbing your hands in lemon juice.


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How much you need

To reach your health goals and become healthy the most important step is to eat a well balanced diet of food from across all the food groups. 

For an average person 
 
Servings per food group. 
Whole Grains (Carbohydrates):  6 – 8 
Meat and beans (Protein):  1 – 2 
High quality fats: 1
Dairy:     2 - 3
Fruit: 2
Vegetables: 5
Water: 6

This list is of recommended daily amount of each food group for an average person 19 to 50 years old with a low level of exercise (30minutes of less a day). If you are older you may need a little less, if you are younger, a little more and if you are very active even more food should be eaten. For more information on serving sizes see our special feature on Sizing Up A Serve.

It is important to ensure that the foods that you eat are of a high quality. The highest quality product is one that is fresh, whole and organic.

Fresh – over time the quality of nutrients degrades with their potency dying off.

Whole – many foods, particularly vegetarian foods carry a lot of their nutrients in their outer skins. So leave bran, germs and skins on the food where possible. Always with grains and whenever the fruit of vegetable permits.

Organic – ensure you have the cleanest food by using only foods that are grown without pesticides, or other chemicals, in a natural way as people have in all bar the last 80 years of history. Chemical burdened foods are a modern invention designed to increase output with little regard to the health of the end user.


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Things to watch out for

The greens contain a relatively large amount of oxalic acid, which can inhibit calcium metabolism.


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References

The Journal of Nutrition – The American Society for Nutrition, http://jn.nutrition.org, retrieved 05/2009.

Wikipedia, Garden beet , http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beetroot, retrieved 

Bratman, Steven, and David Kroll. Natural Health Bible. Rocklin, CA: Prima Publishing, 1999.

Paul Pitchford. Healing with whole food, North Atlantic Books, 2002.

Goldman L, Ausiello D. Cecil Textbook of Medicine. 22nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: WB Saunders, 2004.

Norton Greenberger M.D. and Roanne Weisman, 4 Weeks to Healthy Digestion, Harvard School of Public Health. (2008)


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