Beets evolved from the wild seabeet, which is perhaps why Beta vulgaris was originally prized for its leaves, and not for its root. Romans described early varieties of the beet being black and white. Roman texts discuss more uses for the beet’s root than its leaves. In general, beets were consumed for their medicinal properties, mainly as a laxative or to relieve fever.

The usually deep red roots of beetroot are eaten either grilled, boiled, or roasted as a cooked vegetable, cold as a salad after cooking and adding oil and vinegar, or raw and shredded, either alone or combined with any salad vegetable. A large proportion of the commercial production is processed into boiled and sterilised beets or into pickles. In Eastern Europe, beet soup, such as borscht, is a popular dish. In Indian cuisine, chopped, cooked, spiced beet is a common side dish. Yellow-coloured beetroots are grown on a very small scale for home consumption.

The green, leafy portion of the beet is also edible. It is most commonly served boiled or steamed, in which case it has a taste and texture similar to spinach.

Other uses for beetroot: Betanin, obtained from the roots, is used industrially as red food colourant, e.g. to improve the colour and flavour of tomato paste, sauces, desserts, jams and jellies, ice cream, sweets, and breakfast cereals.  Beetroot dye may also be used in ink.

Health Benefits

Not only is beetroot great for boosting stamina and making muscles work harder, it also contains potassium, magnesium and iron as well as vitamins A, B6 and C, and folic acid.

Beets also contain carbohydrates, protein, powerful antioxidants and soluble fibre. What’s more, just three baby beetroot equal one of your recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables a day.

Reduces blood pressure and the risk of heart attacks and strokes

Research has shown that beetroot can help reduce blood pressure as well as its associated risks such as heart attacks and strokes. This is because the high content of nitrates in beetroot produce a gas called nitric oxide in the blood which widens blood vessels and lowers blood pressure. A daily dose of 250ml of beetroot juice or 1 to 2 cooked beetroot (approx. 100g) can help dramatically reduce blood pressure and its associated risks. For more information on heart health, help, facts and lifestyle advice, visit the British Heart Foundation.

Lowers cholesterol

Beetroot contains soluble fibre, which has also been shown to have cholesterol lowering capabilities. It also contains carotenoidsand flavonoids, which help prevent LDL or ‘bad’ cholesterol from being oxidised and deposited in the arteries.

It is also important to note that boiled beetroots are certainly not as therapeutic for the body as pure beetroot juice is. It is because the cooking process will eliminate nitrates as well as other nutrients.

Side effects

From what I have read to this point, apart from a growing reddish tint to private waste there isn't any major physical or physiological developments someone should bother about when consuming beetroot juice.


Kristina Lupp, food history.

British Heart Foundation



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