This superfood can be roasted whole, blend into a classic soup or drink as juice – beetroot is low in fat, full of vitamins and minerals and packed with powerful antioxidants. The purple root is not only a good addition to your food, it protects your heart, bones and body.
Belonging to the same family as chard and spinach, both the leaves and root can be eaten – the leaves have a bitter taste whereas the round root is sweet. Typically a rich purple colour, beetroot can also be white or golden. Due to its high sugar content, beetroot is delicious eaten raw but is more typically cooked or pickled.
This vegetable is a well know antidote for anaemia in many Indian households. In addition to acting as a natural food colour, it can be consumed in the form of salad, juice or halwa.
Although beets have the highest sugar content of all vegetables, most people can safely eat beetroots a few times a week (and their greens in unlimited quantities), enjoying not only their sweet, earthy flavor but also their powerhouse nutrients that may improve your health in the following ways.
- Lower Your Blood Pressure: Drinking beet juice may help to lower blood pressure in a matter of hours.
- Boost Your Stamina: Beets give you the needed boost to make it through your next workout.
- Fight Inflammation: Beets are a unique source of betaine, a nutrient that helps protects cells, proteins, and enzymes from environmental stress. It’s also known to help fight inflammation, protect internal organs, improve vascular risk factors, enhance performance, and likely help prevent numerous chronic diseases.
- Anti-Cancer Properties: The powerful phytonutrients that give beets their deep crimson color may help to ward off cancer.
- Rich in Valuable Nutrients and Fiber: Beets are high in immune-boosting vitamin C, fiber, and essential minerals like potassium (essential for healthy nerve and muscle function) and manganese (which is good for your bones, liver, kidneys, and pancreas). Beets also contain the B vitamin folate, which helps reduce the risk of birth defects.
How to select and store
Good quality, fresh beetroots should have their greens intact. The greens should be fresh-looking with no signs of spoilage. The beetroot should be firm, smooth, and a vibrant red-purple, not soft, wrinkled or dull in colour. Fresh beets with the greens attached can be stored for three to four days in the fridge, but beets with the greens removed can be stored in the fridge for two to four weeks. Raw beets do not freeze well since they tend to become soft on thawing. Freezing cooked beetroot is fine as it retains its flavour and texture.
Wash beets gently under cool running water, taking care not to tear the skin. It is this tough outer layer that helps keep most of the beetroot’s pigments inside the vegetable. The leaves can be steamed lightly to retain their nutritional quality.