What Is Beetroot?
Beetroot is a root vegetable also known as Beta vulgaris rubra or red beetroot. Vibrant red or gold beetroot has been planted everywhere from the ancient Mediterranean to George Washington's Mount Vernon. In modern times, hybrid species of beets even have candy-cane stripes of red and white. All colors of beetroot have the same rich, earthy taste and liven the plate with their rainbow hues.
The leaves and roots of beets are packed with nutrition, including antioxidants that fight cell damage and reduce the risk of heart disease. They're one of the few vegetables that contain betalains, a powerful antioxidant that gives beets their vibrant color. Betalains reduce inflammation and may help protect against cancer and other diseases.
Beets have many helpful plant compounds that reduce inflammation and protect cells from damage. Some of the other health benefits of beetroot include:
Beetroot and its juice help your heart and lungs work better during exercise. Nitric oxide from beets increases blood flow to your muscles. Some athletes eat beetroot or drink beet juice when exercising to improve their performance.
Lower blood pressure
Beets are naturally high in nitrates, which are turned into nitric oxide in the body. This compound lowers blood pressure by causing the blood vessels to relax and widen.
Boost your immune system
Beets are high in fiber and promote the growth of good bacteria in your gut. Having plenty of healthy bacteria in your digestive system helps fight disease and boost your immune system. Fiber also improves digestion and reduces the risk of constipation.
Beetroot benefits for skin
Research shows that drinking beetroot juice could improve inflammation and blood flow, which are both important for skin health.
Beets are also an excellent source of:
Is pickled beetroot good for you?
Research suggests that pickled vegetables, like beetroot, can be part of a healthy diet. The fermentation process in pickling introduces probiotic bacteria, which can have many health benefits, like improving your immune system and lowering cholesterol. Plus, the pickling process may preserve antioxidants.
How to Prepare Beetroot
Beets are cool-weather crops that grow best in spring and fall. The roots are harvested when the leaves are still young and tender. If you want the sweetest, most tender beets, look for baby beets in the winter.
If beetroot isn't in season, canned or frozen beets are still highly nutritious. Beetroot powder is also popular as a nutritional supplement.
Beets are often roasted, as their natural sugars create a tasty caramelization when baked at high heat. They can also be eaten raw.
There are a couple of ways to make beetroot juice. You can first chop and roast the beets, then pulse them in a blender. Strain the juice into a glass to get rid of the pulp. For a faster method, use a juicer. You can add ginger, citrus fruits, honey, apples, or plums for added flavor. Store leftovers in the refrigerator for 7 to 10 days.
You make beetroot powder by grinding down dried-out beets. The powder is concentrated--1 teaspoon of beetroot powder equals an entire beet.
Grate beetroot on a salad, or fan the slices on a cheese plate for a pop of intense color.
How to Cook Beetroot
Here are some more creative ways to enjoy beetroot:
- Add roasted beets to gazpacho to rev up the color and flavor.
- Pair beets with creamy ricotta in a salad.
- Grate raw beets and carrots and serve with a vinaigrette.
- Make an attention-grabbing purple dip with pureed beets and ranch dressing.
- Juice a small beet and add to fresh apple or orange juice.
- Serve roasted beets with a mint yogurt sauce.
- Microwave beets in a bowl with a little water for 10 minutes.
- Serve traditional Russian borscht made with beets.
- Roast them with sweet potatoes and add to couscous.
- Brighten up minestrone soup with diced beets.
To roast beets, preheat your oven to 400 F. Scrub the beets, wrap them in aluminum foil, and place them on a baking sheet. Roast for 50 to 60 minutes, checking every 20 minutes. If dry or scorching, add water and rewrap. Beets are done when a fork easily pierces the center. Let them cool, then peel by rubbing the skin with a paper towel. If the skin doesn't peel easily, cook the beets a bit longer.
Preheat the oven to 400 F and arrange a rack in the middle. Scrub and wrap beets in foil, roasting for 50-60 minutes. Check after 30 minutes, adding water if needed. Prepare canning jars with mustard seeds and orange slices. Once beets are cool, peel and cut into wedges. Pack tightly into jars. Mix vinegar, water, orange juice, and salt; pour over beets, leaving space at the top. Remove air bubbles, seal with lids, and refrigerate for 24-48 hours before serving.
Preheat the oven to 400 F. Toss beets and fennel in olive oil, thyme, salt, and pepper; roast for 45 minutes. In a pot, heat olive oil, cook onion until soft, then add garlic. Add roasted beets, fennel, and vegetable broth. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 15 minutes. Puree in batches and return to pot. Simmer, stir in orange juice and vinegar, and salt to taste. Garnish with orange zest and fennel fronds before serving.
Place steamed beets (quartered), olive oil, tahini, lime zest, lime juice, garlic, cumin, kosher salt, and ground black pepper in a food processor or blender. Blend for about 5 minutes or until smooth. Serve with pita chips or raw vegetables.
Beetroot Side Effects
Eating beets can cause your stool to turn red, which is harmless. It might alarm you as it looks like blood, but you're just seeing the healthful red beet pigment.
Who Should Avoid Beetroot?
Beets are high in oxalates, which can lead to kidney stones. If you've had kidney stones, avoid beets or eat them only as a rare treat. Oxalates can also contribute to gout, a type of arthritis, so eat beets sparingly if you're at risk.
Packed with nutrition, beets have antioxidants like betalains that fight cell damage and inflammation, potentially offering protection against cancer and heart disease. Health benefits of beets include more stamina during exercise, heart disease and stroke prevention, and lower blood pressure. You can roast, grate, or put them into soups and salads. If you're prone to kidney stones or gout, avoid beets or limit how much you eat.