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Benefits of Beetroot
Beetroot, also known simply as the beet, has been gaining in popularity as a new super food due to recent studies claiming that beets and beetroot juice can improve athletic performance, lower blood pressure and increase blood flow. New products incorporating this highly nutritious food are sprouting up everywhere, especially in juices and drinks. Beetroot, or table beets, although from the same family as sugar beets (beta vulgaris), are genetically and nutritionally different. Sugar beets are white in color and commonly used for sugar extraction and sweetening manufactured foods. Sugar cannot be obtained from beetroot, which are most commonly found in red and gold varieties.
2. An introduction to beetroot
Like many modern vegetables, beetroot was 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. Many classic beetroot recipes are associated with central and Eastern Europe including the famous beetroot soup known asborscht. Beetroots earthy charm has resulted in its ubiquitous influence on fashionable menus and recipes. Its delicious but distinctive flavour and nutritional status have escalated it to the root you cant beat!
Both beets and Swiss chard are different varieties within the same plant family (Amaranthaceae Chenopodiaceae) and their edible leaves share a resemblance in both taste and texture. Attached to the beets green leaves is a round or oblong root, the part conjured up in most peoples minds by the word beet. Although typically a beautiful reddish purple hue, beets also come in varieties that feature white, golden/yellow or even rainbow color roots. No matter what their color, however, beet roots arent as hardy as they look; the smallest bruise or puncture will cause red beets red purple pigments (which contain a variety of phytonutrients including betalains and anthocyanins) to bleed, especially during cooking. Betalain pigments in beets are highly water soluble, and they are also temperature sensitive. For both of these reasons, it is important to treat beets as a delicate food, even though they might seem rock solid and difficult to damage.
4. A history of health
Beetroots have long been used for medicinal purposes, primarily for disorders of the liver as they help to stimulate the livers detoxification processes. The plant pigment that gives beetroot its rich, purple crimson colour is betacyanin; a powerful agent, thought tosuppress the development of some types of cancer.Beetroot is rich in fibre, exerting favourable effects on bowel function, which may assist in preventing constipation and help to lower cholesterol levels too.
Beetroot fibre has been shown to increase the level ofantioxidant enzymesin the body, (specifically one called glutathione peroxidase), as well as increase the number ofwhite blood cells, which are responsible for detecting and eliminating abnormal cells. Beets are also one of the richest sources ofglutamine, an amino acid, essential to the health and maintenance of the intestinal tract.
6. Nutritional breakdown of beetroot
One cup of raw beets contains 58 calories, 13 grams of carbohydrate (including 9 grams of sugar and 4 grams of fiber) and 2 grams of protein. It provides 1% of daily vitamin A needs, 2% of calcium, 11% of vitamin C and 6% of iron. Beetroot is a rich source of folate and manganese and also contains thiamine, riboflavin, vitamin B 6, pantothenic acid, choline, betaine, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper and selenium. Beets are high in dietary nitrate, which is believed to be the reason why many of the potential health benefits of beetroot are being studied.
7. Fruits and vegetables
Consuming fruits and vegetables of all kinds has long been associated with a reduced risk of many lifestyle related health conditions. Many studies have suggested that increasing consumption of plant foods like beetroot decreases the risk of obesity and overall mortality, diabetes, heart disease and promotes a healthy complexion and hair, increased energy, overall lower weight.
8. Heart health and blood pressure
A 2008 study published in Hypertension examined the effects of ingesting 500mls of beetroot juice in healthy volunteers and found that blood pressure was significantly lowered after ingestion. Researchers hypothesized this was likely due to the high nitrate levels contained in beet juice and that the high nitrate vegetables could prove to be a low cost and effective way to treat cardiovascular conditions and blood pressure. Another study conducted in 2010 found similar results that drinking beetroot juice lowered blood pressure considerably on a dose dependent basis.
9. Beetroot facts
The website lovebeetroot.co.uk says the vegetable became popular in Roman times and it was used to treat fever, constipation, wounds, skin problems and was used as an aphrodisiac. Most beetroot on sale is round and red, but yellow, white and stripy versions are available.The beetroot taste is described as sweet, earthy and tender to eat. It is grown in the ground and is related to turnips, swedes and sugar beet. Beetroot has featured in recipes from top chefs including Jamie Oliver and Heston Blumenthal.
10. Beetroot for blood pressure management
Researchers have known for some time that juice may help lower blood pressure, but in 2010 UK researchers revealed that nitrate is the special ingredient in beetroot which lowers blood pressure and may help to fight heart disease. In a Queen Mary University of London study, healthy participants had to drink a glass of beetroot juice while others had a dummy (placebo) drink. Others took nitrate tablets. Blood pressure was lowered within 24 hours in people who took nitrate tablets and those who drank beetroot juice. The researchers admitted to BootsWebMD that beetroot juice is a love it or hate it kind of drink, but found people in the study didnt mind it so much when they were drinking it every day.
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