The beetroot is the taproot portion of the beet plant, usually known in North America as the beet, also table beet, garden beet, red beet, or golden beet.). These varieties have been classified as B. vulgaris subsp. vulgarisConditivaGroup. There are many varities of beetroot, red and yellow. Other than as a food, beets are used as a food colouring and as a medicinal plant.
Beetroot was believed to be 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. Beetroot is delicious with a distinctive flavour and nutritional status. It is delicious eaten raw but is more typically cooked or pickled.
Beetroot 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. It is typicallyof a rich purple colour, beetroot can also be white or golden. Beetroot has a high sugar content.
How to select and store Beetroot
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.
Though Beetroot is available year round, beets are sweetest and most tender during their peak season, from June to October
Health Benefits of Beetroot
Beetroots have long been used for medicinal purposes, primarily for disorders of the liver as they help to stimulate the liver’s detoxification processes.
Beetroot is rich in fibre, exerting favourable effects on bowel function, which may assist in preventing constipation and help to lower cholesterol levels too.
Beetroots are an excellent source of folic acid and a very good source of fibre, manganese and potassium.Beetroots are an excellent source of folic acid and a very good source of fibre, manganese and potassium.
Beetroot fibre has been shown to increase the level of antioxidant enzymes in the body, (specifically one called glutathione peroxidase), as well as increase the number of white blood cells, which are responsible for detecting and eliminating abnormal cells.
Beets are also one of the richest sources of glutamine, an amino acid, essential to the health and maintenance of the intestinal tract.
Medical Research Studies have looked at the effect of beetroot juice on blood pressure. A reduction in blood pressure is beneficial for the avoidance of heart disease and stroke. Studies state that nitrate rich foods like beetroot may help in heart attack survival.