The Mighty Beetroot
I adore beetroot – it is delicious, versatile and has many health benefits. Try the recipes below that are loved by my kids as well as adults. Beetroot (Beta vulgaris) is a cleansing, blood-boosting tonic full of vitamins and minerals. Beetroot contains a wonderful substance called betaine hydrochloride - health protective molecules that safeguard cells and enzymes from damage caused by stress in the environment (toxins, extreme temperature, radiation). Betaine prevents proteins from denaturing (structural changes that affect their purpose) and reduces the accumulation of fat in the liver (beetroot supports phase 11 liver detoxification).
Research, particularly with animals, has shown that beetroot also has anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, important for cardiovascular health. The phytonutrients found in beetroot give it the rich deep crimson colour, which may reduce tumour formation. Studies on tumour cells show promising results for the reduction of cancer with dietary beetroot intake.
Other significant contributions beetroot makes to good health include:
Aids digestion through increasing hydrochloric acid production in the stomach helping to break down foods
Eradicates pathogens in the stomach and small intestine
Stimulates the proliferation of red blood cells
Assists in the absorption of nutrients
Enhances athletic performance and exercise tolerance as nitrates are converted to nitric oxide in the body, acting as a vasodilator. Nitric oxide also improves blood flow and may lower blood pressure
Forms an important part of metabolic pathways (supports homocysteine remethylation and amino acid conversion).
Other key nutrients in beetroot and some of their main functions include:
Excellent source of folate (DNA/RNA synthesis, reducing the risk of birth defects, amino acid metabolism, brain function and emotional health) and beta-carotene (which converts to Vitamin A in the body needed for tissue health and repair, skin and eye health, it lines the lungs and intestines, its an antioxidant and supports thyroid function).
Good source of manganese (energy production, supports thyroid function, activation of digestive enzymes, bone production, cartilage repair and joint lubrication, sex hormone production), potassium (electrolyte balance, nerve and muscle function), copper (absorption and storage of iron, works with Vitamin C to form elastin and healthy bones, supports thyroid function) and contains dietary fibre (important for bowel health).
Small levels of magnesium (needed to activate >300 enzymes, metabolism of many minerals, energy production and helps with mood and sleep), phosphorus (cell membrane health, energy production, bone and teeth health, kidney function and cell growth), Vitamin C (adrenal and brain health, required for gums, teeth, bones and joints, collagen promotion, immune system support), iron (needed for 90+ enzymes, energy production, conversion of amino acids) and Vitamin B6 (protein, hormone and neurotransmitter production).
The green part of the beetroot also contains many vitamins and minerals especially iron, protein, fibre, Vitamin B6, zinc, copper, Vitamin C, and calcium. Add the tender young shoots raw to salads or add a couple of leaves to your favourite smoothie.
Cho J et al. (2017) Beetroot (Beta vulgaris) rescues mice from γ-ray irradiation by accelerating hematopoiesis and curtailing immunosuppression, Pharmaceutical Biology.
Kouris, A 2012, Food Sources of Nutrients, Macronutrients, Micronutrients, Phytochemicals and Chemicals.
Osiecki, H (n.d), The Nutrient Bible, 9th edn.
Beetroot and Kumara (sweet potato) Soup
2 med sweet potatoes
1 large onion
1 tsp grated ginger (or more!)
2 tbsp olive oil
2 litres vegetable stock water
Lightly cook the onion in oil, add the remaining ingredients and cook until soft. Blend until smooth.
Serve with fresh herbs and/or grated cheese
Beetroot Salad with Blueberry Dressing
Bunch of beetroot
Beetroot and spinach leaves
50g feta cheese
1/4 cup quinoa
Steam beetroot until tender, cool and slice thinly.
Soak quinoa for 30mins and then cook like rice until water has evaporated and quinoa is tender.
Lightly steam, washed beetroot greens and spinach. Cool and chop coarsely.
¾ cup first cold pressed olive oil
¾ cup fresh or frozen blueberries
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp honey (raw)
salt and pepper
Combine all ingredients in a food processor until smooth.
Arrange greens on plate with crumbed/cubed feta, quinoa and dressing.