Beetroot, also known as beets or garden beets, is a root vegetable that is widely cultivated and consumed around the world. It belongs to the Chenopodiaceae family and is scientifically known as Beta vulgaris. Beetroot has a round or bulbous shape with a deep red or purplish skin and flesh. However, there are also varieties with white or yellow flesh and different shapes.

Beetroot is highly nutritious and offers several health benefits. It is a rich source of vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C, folate, potassium, manganese, and iron. It also contains dietary fibre and antioxidants, including betalains, which give beets their distinctive colour.

Beetroot can be eaten raw or cooked, and it has a sweet, earthy flavour. It is commonly used in salads, soups, stews, and pickled preparations. In some cuisines, beetroot is used to make juices, smoothies, and even desserts. Additionally, beetroot leaves, also known as beet greens, are edible and can be cooked and consumed similarly to spinach or Swiss chard.

Due to its vibrant colour and nutritional value, beetroot is often used as a natural food colouring agent. It is also popular for its potential health benefits, including improved blood pressure, increased exercise performance, and enhanced digestion. However, it's important to note that individual results may vary, and it's always a good idea to consult with a healthcare professional for personalized advice.

More on health benefits

Here are some additional health benefits associated with beetroot:

Heart Health: Beetroot is rich in nitrates, which are converted to nitric oxide in the body. Nitric oxide helps relax and dilate blood vessels, which can lower blood pressure and improve blood flow. Regular consumption of beetroot has been linked to reduced risk of heart disease and stroke.

Improved Exercise Performance: The nitrates in beetroot have also been shown to enhance exercise performance. Nitric oxide promotes oxygen utilization in the muscles, resulting in increased endurance and improved stamina during physical activity. Some athletes consume beetroot juice as a natural performance-enhancing supplement.

Anti-Inflammatory Properties: Beetroot contains betalains, which are antioxidants with anti-inflammatory properties. These compounds help reduce inflammation in the body, which is associated with various chronic conditions, including heart disease, arthritis, and certain types of cancer.

Digestive Health: The dietary fibre content in beetroot supports healthy digestion. It adds bulk to the stool, promoting regular bowel movements and preventing constipation. Additionally, beetroot contains natural enzymes that can aid in digestion and nutrient absorption.

Detoxification: Beetroot is known for its detoxifying properties. It supports liver function by aiding in the elimination of toxins from the body. The betalains in beetroot also help purify the blood and promote the excretion of harmful substances.

Cognitive Function: The high concentration of nitrates in beetroot may benefit brain health. Nitric oxide promotes blood flow to the brain, improving cognitive function, mental clarity, and potentially reducing the risk of age-related cognitive decline and dementia.

Weight Management: Beetroot is low in calories and fat while being high in fiber, which helps promote feelings of fullness and satiety. Including beetroot in your diet can help you manage your weight and support healthy eating habits.

It's important to note that while beetroot offers numerous potential health benefits, individual results may vary. As with any dietary changes or health concerns, it's always advisable to consult with a healthcare professional for personalized advice.

Which country grows the most beetroots?

As of September 2021, the country that grows the most beetroot (beets) is Russia. Russia has been the largest producer of beets for many years, followed by the United States, France, Poland, and Germany. However, please note that agricultural production can vary from year to year, and it's possible that rankings may have changed since then. For the most up-to-date information on beetroot production, it is advisable to refer to recent agricultural reports or consult reliable sources such as international agricultural organizations or government agricultural departments.

Are there different varieties of beetroot?

Yes, there are different varieties of beetroot, each with its own unique characteristics in terms of size, shape, colour, and flavour. Here are some common varieties:

Red Beetroot: This is the most common type of beetroot with a deep red or purplish skin and flesh. It is widely available and used in various culinary preparations.

Golden Beetroot: Golden beetroot has a vibrant yellow or golden skin and flesh. It is slightly sweeter and milder in flavour compared to red beetroot.

Chioggia Beetroot: Also known as candy cane or striped beetroot, Chioggia beetroot has a pinkish skin and characteristic concentric rings of white and pink inside. When sliced, it reveals a beautiful striped pattern. It has a mild and slightly sweet flavour.

White Beetroot: White beetroot has a pale white or cream-colored skin and flesh. It has a milder flavour compared to red beetroot and can be used as a substitute in various recipes.

Cylindra Beetroot: Cylindra beetroot has a cylindrical shape and is longer and narrower than traditional round beets. It is known for its uniform slices and is often used for pickling.

Baby Beetroot: Baby beets are harvested when they are small in size, resulting in a tender texture and a sweeter, milder flavour. They are often sold with their greens still attached.

These are just a few examples, and there are many more beetroot varieties available, including heirloom varieties with unique characteristics. The choice of beetroot variety may vary based on personal preference, culinary application, and availability in different regions.

Beetroot recipes

Here are a few popular beetroot recipes that you can try:

Beetroot Salad:

Ingredients: Cooked and peeled beetroots, crumbled feta cheese, chopped walnuts, fresh arugula or spinach, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Instructions: Slice or dice the cooked beetroots and place them in a salad bowl. Add crumbled feta cheese, chopped walnuts, and fresh arugula or spinach. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Toss gently to combine.

Beetroot Soup (Borscht):

Ingredients: Beetroots, onions, carrots, potatoes, vegetable or chicken broth, garlic, tomato paste, lemon juice, sour cream (optional), dill or parsley (for garnish), salt, and pepper.

Instructions: Sauté chopped onions, carrots, and garlic in a large pot until softened. Add peeled and diced beetroots, peeled and diced potatoes, vegetable or chicken broth, and tomato paste. Bring to a boil and simmer until the vegetables are tender. Blend the soup until smooth using a blender or immersion blender. Stir in lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Serve hot with a dollop of sour cream and garnish with fresh dill or parsley.

Roasted Beetroot:

Ingredients: Whole beetroots, olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Instructions: Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Wash and trim the beetroots, leaving the skin intact. Rub the beetroots with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Wrap each beetroot individually in aluminum foil. Place the foil-wrapped beetroots on a baking sheet and roast in the preheated oven for about 45-60 minutes or until tender. Allow the beetroots to cool, then peel off the skin. Slice or dice as desired and serve as a side dish or in salads.

These are just a few examples, but there are countless other ways to incorporate beetroot into your meals. You can also try beetroot juice, beetroot hummus, beetroot chips, beetroot risotto, or even beetroot desserts like beetroot chocolate cake or beetroot brownies. Get creative and experiment with different Flavors and ingredients to find your favourite beetroot recipes!