Health

15 Health Benefits of Beets, According to Science (+8 Delicious Beetroot Recipes)

Beets are a sweet root vegetable full of important vitamins and minerals.(1)

Beets help with detoxing, lowering blood pressure, and improving heart health They can increase energy levels and stamina as well as boost brain functions.

The root and the green tops are full of healthy nutrients. Eat beets hot or cold, in salads or in soups to get the full benefit of their natural nutrients.

Here are 15 health benefits associated with beets according to science.

1. Beets are a source of valuable nutrients and fiber

Beetroot contains vitamins A,C,and B group. They are a good source of calcium, iron magnesium, potassium, manganese and fibre. The main health benefit of beets comes from the pigment betalain that gives them the deep rich colour. Beets are a unique source of phytonutrients called betalains Betalains have powerful anti-oxidants and inflammatory properties.(2) Beets are also a source of beneficial flavonoids called anthocyanins. They are low in calories and contain no cholesterol but have a high sugar content. (3)

Eat beets and improve your overall health and diet.

2. Beet greens are edible

Beet greens, the leafy part of the vegetable are the healthiest part of the plant. They contain the vitamins and minerals found in the root as well as, fibre, vitamin B6, and have significant amounts of vitamin A and C, calcium and iron. The beet greens have more iron than spinach. Beet greens and beets keep your body fueled, they increase your efficiency and let your body make the best of the food you eat. 

The leaves of the beetroot contain all the minerals and vitamins of the root and are very healthy to eat.

3. Beets can lower blood pressure

The inorganic nitrate content of beets is converted to nitric oxide which helps improve blood flow. This is beneficial on the cardiovascular system and helps reduce blood pressure and improve blood flow. Participants in a study found that within 6 hours blood pressure levels were significantly lower.(4) Drinking beet juice may help reduce blood pressure in a matter of hours. One study found that drinking a glass of beet juice lowered systolic blood pressure by an average of 4 - 5 points. The benefit comes from natural nitrates converted to nitric oxide in your body. Nitric oxide dilates blood vessels, Improves flow of blood and lowers blood pressure.

Natural nitrates in beets improve blood flow and lower blood pressure.

4. Beets fight inflammation

Beets can help fight inflammation. They are a source of betaine which protects cells from environmental stress. Eating beets regularly has a powerful effect due to their anti-inflammatory properties. Choline is a very important versatile nutrient of beetroot. It maintains the structure of cellular membranes, assists with the absorption of fat and reduces chronic inflammation. You can boost the anti-inflammatory potential of beets by preparing beet juices as a healthy way of taking advantage of all beets have to offer. .The anti inflammatory effects of beets have been linked to cancer by helping fight tumors.

Eating beets regularly gives your body powerful anti inflammatory properties.

5. Beets boost stamina and energy levels

Beets have significant amounts of carbohydrates to provide fuel for energy and sports activities. Researchers have noticed that oxygen intake increases by up to 16% in stamina for exercise. The high nitrate content of beets is converted into energy which is safe to ingest because of its vegetable form. Researchers have said that beetroot can improve the cycling performance in healthy adults.(10)

Beets improve an athlete's workout with the increase in oxygen to the blood and reduces blood pressure improving the physiological response to exercise. The improved oxygen delivery gives runners a performance boost. (5) Studies show nitric oxide increases the efficiency of the mitochondrial (energy powerhouse.(6)

Beets convert into energy and provide performance boosts for athletes.

6. Beets are good for heart health

The nutrient betaine found in beets lowers levels of homocysteine which can be harmful to blood vessels. Eating beetroot helps prevent cardiovascular diseases as the fibre in beets strip excess LDL cholesterol from the walls of the blood vessels and eliminates it from the body quicklyThe presence of folate-vitamin B9 in beets has a therapeutic effect on the heart and betaine the betaine helps alleviate angina pain, shortness of breath, reduction of blood pressure and an improvement to the vascular system. (7) Antioxidants in beets prevent the deposition of bad cholesterol in the walls of the arteries and protect the heart from potential heart attacks. (8)

Eating beets helps to prevent cardiovascular disease and protects the heart from potential heart attacks.

7. Beets have anti cancer properties

The cancerous cell growth in lung, skin and colon cancer can be counteracted by the pigment betacyanin is obtained from drinking beet juice. Beetroot extract is being studied for use in treating pancreatic cancer, breast and prostate cancer. Studies show that betalains are good at protecting the body against developing some cancers like lung,stomach, colon and breast cancer.(9) The rich red colour of the beets comes from betacyanin, a plant pigment that some research indicates might help defend cells against harmful carcinogens. The unique fibre found in beets may be linked to a lower colon cancer risk.(10)

Betacyanin, a plant pigment found in beets can help protect the body against some cancers.

8. Beets help your body detox

Beets support detoxification of the whole body and strengthen the immune system. Beetroot extract helps to get rid of free radicals from your body’s cells. 

Studies have shown that beetroot is one of the most potent antioxidant drinks of all the vegetable and fruit juices. The betalin pigments in beets assist the phase two detoxification process. Broken down toxins are bound to other molecules so they can be excreted from your body. This helps purify your blood and your liver.

Beets are a unique source of phytonutrients called betalains. Betanin and vulgaxanthin are two best studied betalains and both have been shown to provide antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and detoxification support.

Beets can help detoxify the whole body and strengthen the immune system.

9. Beets are good for liver health

The betaines contained in beet juice stimulate the function of the liver. Extracts of beetroot help prevent fat accumulating in the liver. This reduces oxidative stress levels.Beet juice is a very effective way to help your liver to get rid of damaging toxins. The methionine and glycine betaine help keep fatty acid from building up in the liver.(11) The betaine in beets energises the functions of the liver cells and helps to protect the liver bile ducts. (12)

Beet juice is an effective way to help your liver get rid of damaging toxins.

10. Beets can reduce the risks of birth defects

Beets are very good for pregnant women as they are a rich source of vitamin B folate. This vitamin helps in the development of the infant’s spinal column. A deficiency of folate could lead to a variety of conditions called neural tube defects. The vitamin B folate lowers the dangers of birth defects in babies.

The vitamin B folate in beets is very good for pregnant women as the vitamin B helps in the development of the infant's spinal column

11. Beets reduce the risk of strokes

A deficiency of potassium in the body increases the risk of strokes and so the beetroot that is rich in potassium is recommended to improve heart health. Potassium relaxes the blood vessels and reduces blood pressure throughout the body. Blood clots are less likely to form when blood pressure is reduced and vessels and arteries are no longer contracted.

Beetroot, rich in potassium, improves heart health and reduces the risk of blood clots.

12. Beets supports mental health

Beets are a good source of folate, also known as B-9 it is important for good brain health. Folate works with B12 to help iron function in your body and produce red blood cells. The nitric oxide produced from beets helps increase blood flow throughout your body. This improves blood flow to the frontal lobes of the brain.(5) Blood flow to the brain decreases with age and this can lead to a decline in cognition. Drinking beet juice can improve oxygenation to the brain slowing down the process of dementia (6) Beets have high levels of tryptophan that keeps you relaxed and calm. They also contain betalain used in anti-depressants.(13)

Beet juice can improve oxygenation to the brain slowing down the process of dementia.

13. Beets will strengthen the immune system

Beets are high in immune boosting vitamin C, fibre and essential minerals like potassium that is essential for the health of nerves and muscle function.Beet greens may help boost bone strength and strengthen your immune system by stimulating the production of antibodies and white blood cells. 

Beets provide the immune boosting vitamin C with fibre and essential minerals that stimulate the production of antibodies.

14. Beets can act as an aphrodisiac

Beets contain significant levels of the mineral boron which is directly related to the production of human sex hormones.(14) This leads to a boost in libido, increased fertility, sperm mobility, and a reduction of frigidity in the bedroom.

The boron in beets boost libido and the production of human sex hormones.

15. Beets have anti-aging properties too

Beets can help prevent age related cataracts and reduce macular degeneration with its vitamin A, a powerful antioxidant substance that can defend the eye against free radicals. They can help prevent kidney damage as they get rid of free radicals that can cause kidney disease. Many studies indicate that eating more plant foods like beetroot decreases the risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease. It promotes a healthy complexion and hair. The unique pigment antioxidants in this root can lower cholesterol levels within the body and have anti ageing effects. (15)

Beets are a unique plant food that have a powerful impact on the body in many different areas leading to a healthier life.

Different ways to prepare beets:

Juice your beets, blend with fresh orange, mint, pineapple and ginger. Blend and strain.

Grate beets and add to a coleslaw or salad.

Top toast with goat’s cheese.

Slice pickled beets and add to a salad.

Raw beets sliced and served with lemon and a sprinkle of chilli pepper.

Delicious Beetroot Recipes

Beetroot, Pineapple and cucumber detox drink

This wonderful beetroot and pineapple recipe is easy to prepare. It is a wonderful cleansing juice and is best drunk on an empty stomach.

Ingredients:

  • A small beetroot peeled

  • ½ a cucumber with skin removed

  • 1 Cup of chopped pineapple.

Method:

  • Cut the cucumber and the beetroot into pieces to fit into a juicer.

  • Juice all the ingredients and serve over crushed ice or plain for a refreshing and energy boosting health drink.

Roast beetroot soup

Beet soup is very easy to prepare. It is very nourishing and can be served hot or cold.

Ingredients:

  • 1kg peeled and chopped beetroot

  • 1large onion not peeled but cut into 8 wedges.

  • 2 tsp caraway seeds

  • 4 - 6 sprigs of thyme

  • Freshly ground black pepper

  • Olive oil for drizzling

  • 700ml chicken of vegetable stock

  • Juice of half a lemon

(used for serving - natural yoghurt and 2 tsp chopped parsley)

Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 180C

  • Toss beetroot and onion pieces in a baking tray with caraway seeds and the thyme.

  • Add pepper seasoning and drizzle with olive oil toss again.

  • Roast for about 30 - 40 minutes until tender, test with a skewer.

  • Remove the outer ski from the onions and tip the contents of the baking tray into a large saucepan

  • Mix in the stock and lemon juice and allow to simmer

  • Remove from the heat and use a hand held stick blender to whixx into a smooth consistency

  • The soup is ready to serve hot or cold.

  • Top each bowl of soup with a spoonful of yoghurt and a sprinkle of chopped parsley.

Tzatziki

A delicious pink dip for salads or crudites. It is also a great added flavour to lamb koftas.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Large fresh cooked beetroot.

  • 1 - 2 crushed garlic cloves

  • A dash of red wine vinegar

  • 3 Tbsp of finely chopped dill

  • A dash of olive oil

  • 250g yoghurt - full cream, double cream or Greek yoghurt

  • Sea salt for added flavour

Method:

  • Grate the beetroot coarsely and mix with vinegar, dill, garlic and olive oil

  • Mix in the yoghurt and add seasoning

  • Chill in the fridge to allow the flavours to infuse.

  • Leave for 30 mins before serving.

Roast beetroot, goat’s cheese and walnut salad

A roast beetroot salad is a great addition to any meal. Roast Beetroot salad with added goats cheese is a healthy option anytime.

Ingredients for the roast beetroot:

  • 1kg baby beetroot washed and leave skin on.

  • Remove the leaves and reserve to use in the salad

  • 2 cloves crushed garlic

  • A couple of sprigs of thyme

  • Red wine vinegar

  • Olive oil

  • Salt and pepper

  • ¼ cup water

Method to roast the beetroot:

  • Pre-heat oven to 180C

  • Lay the beetroot, thyme and galic into a baking dish

  • Add a dash of red wine vinegar to the beets and drizzle with olive oil

  • Sprinkle with salt and pepper to season.

  • Pour the water into te bottom of the dish

  • Cover the dish with tinfoil and make sure it is well sealed then place the dish in the oven and let it cook for 45 minutes.

  • The beetroot is ready when a metal skewer can be pushed through the centre.

  • Remove the pan from the oven and allow to cool slightly.

  • Take the beets out of the pan and remove the skin by gently applying pressure to the side of the beetroot and squeezing the beet out of its skin.

  • Start to construct the salad while the beets are warm

Ingredients for the salad:

  • 3 Tablespoons of walnut oil

  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

  • Salt and pepper

  • 1kg of roasted beetroot

  • 150g of rocket leaves

  • 150g goat’s cheese

  • ⅓ cup chopped roasted walnuts

  • Some of the baby beet leaves with stalks removed.

Method to construct the salad:

  • Make a dressing of walnut oil and red wine vinegar in a bowl and season with salt and pepper.

  • Cut the warm roasted beetroot into 2cm cubes and add to the dressing mix.

  • Mix thoroughly to ensure the beetroot is completely coated in the dressing and allow to cool completely.

  • Arrange the bby beet leaves and the rocket on a platter.

  • Place the beetroot cubes in the centre

  • Crumble the goats cheese and toss walnuts over the top

  • The salad is ready to serve.

Quick and easy grated beetroot salad

Grated beetroot offers a different variety of salad. It can be drizzled with honey and orange dressing adding to the sweetness and flavor of the beetroot.

Ingredients:

  • 2 large carrots coarsly grated

  • 500g raw beetroot coarsly grated

  • Juice and zest of an orange

  • 11/2 Tblsp of runny honey

  • 1 eating apple

  • 50g walnuts roughly chopped

  • A few caperberries

  • A handful of flat leaved parsley chopped roughly

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Method:

  • Put the grated carrots into one half of a serving bowl

  • Using gloves to protect your hands grate the beets.

  • Add the beets to the other side of the bowl.

  • Mix the orange zest and the juice of the orange with the honey for the dressing.

  • Add some seasoning to the dressing

  • Dice the apple and keep the skin on the apple.

  • Add the apple to the grated vegetable with the walnuts and caperberries and parsley

  • Finally drizzle the dressing over the salad when you are ready to serve.

Beetroot tart Tatin

A delicious combination of sweet flavours all wrapped up in a savoury tart. This tart is a great way to serve beetroot hot or cold for lunch or dinner or even a picnic.

Ingredients:

  • 75g castor sugar

  • 40g butter

  • A dash of sherry vinegar

  • 1 tbsp honey

  • 7 sprigs of thyme

  • 4 fresh beetroot cooked

  • 250g puff pastry

  • 4 slices of goat’s cheese

  • Salt and black pepper

Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark4.

  • Put a small heavy oven safe frying pan over a medium heat and add the sugar so it dissolves, then add pinch of salt, the butter and a dash of the sherry vinegar.

  • Keep stirring until it turns dark brown. Wear some gloves to protect your hands from the heat and take care not to burn the sugar.

  • Add 1tbsp honey and the tymes leaves you have pulled from the stalks. Keep one long sprig of thyme for the decorative piece. Lay that piece at the bottom of the pan.

  • Cut the beetroot on to thin pieces and carefully arrange the slices around the pan in the caramel. Work from the edge to the centre.

  • On a floured board for a work surface roll out the puff pastry. It must be big enough to cover the beetroot.

  • Place the pastry on top of the tart pan tucking the edges into the pan.

  • Put the whole pan into the oven for approx 30 minutes or until the pastry is golden.

  • Wearing oven gloves for protection, place an upturned plate of the pan. The plate should be bigger than the pan .

  • Hold the two together and flip the tart over. Leave for a few seconds to let the caramel fall from the pan to the plate. Slowly lift the pan.

  • Cut into wedges and serve with a medallion of goats cheese on top and a bit of honey if you fancy a sweet variety of this savoury tart.

Beetroot Risotto

A delicious dinner for two with unusual toppings. Risotto is a wonderful option for serving beets and enjoying its succulent flavours.

Ingredients:

  • 250g fresh beetroot

  • 2 peeled shallots

  • 2 peeled cloves of garlic

  • 850ml chicken or fresh vegetable stock

  • 35g butter and an extra knob of butter for later

  • A dash of olive oil

  • 175g risotto arborio rice

  • 80ml white wine

  • A sprig of thyme

  • The juice of half a lemon

  • 50g freshly grated parmesan

  • Salt and black pepper.

Optional toppings: 1 Tbsp mascarpone, cream or creme fraiche or a few baby spinach and rocket leaves or a handful of parmesan cheese or goats cheese crumbled.

Method:

  • Discard the beetroot leaves, wash the beetroot and put them in a pan of cold water.

  • Boil beetroots for about 20 minutes until tender and set aside to cool down.

  • Add stock to the pan bring to the boil and then simmer.

  • Peel the beetroot and blend it into a puree in a food processor adding 4 tbsp of hot stock to make it thicker.

  • Chop the garlic and shallots and put a second pan on the stove. Add butter and oil and when it is hot add the shallots and the garlic.

  • Reduce the heat and cook gently for 5 minutes so the onion can soften

  • Put the unwashed rice into the pan and stir well to coat it. Cook for approx one minute while stirring and increasing the heat.

  • Add the wine until it is nearly absorbed and then add a large spoon of the stock.

  • Add the thyme and reduce the heat so the mixture keeps simmering but does not cook too quickly.

  • Once the stock is absorbed add another spoonful of stock and keep stirring. Repeat these steps till the stock is almost finished.

  • When the rice is almost cooked after about 15 - 20 mins add salt and pepper and lemon juice

  • Stir in 2/3rds of the puree and taste for seasoning. Add the rest of the puree and the parmesan

  • Stir in the knob of butter for a glossy finish.

  • Serve with the toppings of your choice.

Chocolate and beetroot cake

An interesting combination of flavours to bake a lovely cake. Try out this interesting cake recipe that includes the added healthy ingredient - beets.

Ingredients:

  • Olive oil

  • Plain flour to use as dusting

  • 300g of dark chocolate (70% cocoa)

  • 250g raw beetroot

  • 4 large eggs free range

  • 150g castor sugar

  • 120g ground almonds

  • 1tsp baking powder

  • 1 Tbsp cocoa powder

  • Natural yoghurt to serve

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 180C/350F/gas4

  • Grease the bottom and sides of a 20cm springform cake tin

  • Cut out a circle of grease -proof paper with scissors approx the size of the tin

  • Dust the sides of the tin lightly with the flour

  • Break 200g of the chocolate into small pieces and add to a heatproof bowl

  • Put the bowl over a pan of water on a medium heat to melt the chocolate

  • Stir occasionally and remove when it is melted

  • Peel and quarter the beetroots

  • Push beetroot through a coarse grater

  • Tip into a mixing bowl

  • Separate the eggs put the whites into a bowl and add the yolks to the beetroot

  • Stir the sugar the almonds baking powder and melted chocolate into the beetroot and mix well together.

  • Whisk the egg whites with an electric beater till they have stiff peaks

  • Fold a quarter of the egg white mixture into the beetroot mixture

  • When that is combined fold in the rest of the egg whites do not over mix

  • Add the mixture to the prepared cake tin and spread evenly with a spatula

  • Bake in a hot oven for approx 50 minutes until risen and cooked through

  • Check it is cooked with a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake.If the skewer comes out clean the cake is cooked

  • Allow the cake to cook slightly before turning onto a wire rack to cool completely

  • When you are ready to serve, melt the remaining chocolate to drizzle on the cake and serve with some yoghurt.

Recipe References

www.theguardian.com/lifestyle

www.amazon.com/wonderfoods-amazing-incredible-recipes-optimum/dp/1844004767

www.jamieoliver.com/recipes

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