_Beetroot is a well loved vegetable especially in Australia. Mostly known in the pickled variety in cans, most people would have also eaten it roasted or in a dip. The most nutritious way to eat beetroot is raw because the betalin pigments that give its amazing colour, are reduced by the cooking process.
Beetroot is a source of carbohydrate and fibre. It is a good source of Vitamin C, Iron and Magnesium. It is an excellent source of Folate and Manganese. Iron needs Vit C present to be absorbed properly so its convenient that beetroot contains both. Manganese is an essential trace mineral that is important to activate many enzymes in the body and aids the absorption of B and C vitamins. Folate is a B vitamin that is widely known as extremely important during pregnancy to prevent birth defects. It is also important for the formation of red blood cells, and for neurological health. Folate also reduces homocysteine levels in the blood (see below).
_The betalin pigments in beetroot support liver detoxification by triggering the attachment of glutathione (the body’s most important antioxidant) to toxins, which are then eliminated from the body.
Beetroot also contains betaine which reduces bad estrogens for the body that are introduced from chemicals like pesticide residues in meat and vegetables, from pollution and exhaust fumes and especially from plastics that we store food in and drink from. Too much estrogen in our bodies leads to a condition called estrogen dominance. Estrogens can dominate over the androgen group of hormones (progesterone, testosterone and DHEA) which can lead too hormone imbalances like infertility, bad menopausal symptoms, PMS and polycystic ovaries. Estrogen dominance has also been linked to cancers like breast and prostate.
Betaine also lowers homocysteine in the blood. There are many complicated chemical reactions in our bodies and if certain nutrients are missing, the process can get stuck. In such situations a substance called homocysteine can rise to dangerous levels. High levels of homocysteine are known to be associated with cardiovascular disease, heart attack, stroke, neural tube defects, cancer, liver disease, depression and peripheral neuropathy. High homocysteine levels are a more reliable predictor of cardiovascular disease than high cholesterol, yet is rarely tested by the medical profession.
So get more beetroot in your life to help with healthy blood, a healthy well functioning liver, and to assist with the prevention of western diseases like cancer and cardio-vascular disorders.
The best way to eat raw beetroot is to grate it and put in sandwiches and salads. Juice in moderation as the sugars will not be offset by the fibre eaten as a wholefood and may affect blood sugar.
To roast beetroot, place in a small baking dish lined with baking paper with a lid, or wrap in foil lined with baking paper. Add a few Tbs of water, a splash of balsamic vinegar, salt & pepper, and a sprig of herb like thyme or rosemary. Bake whole for a good hour or more. If cut into pieces it may take approx. 45 mins on 200 degrees. Bake with the skin on and rub it off once cooked and cooled.
Steamed beetroot will be a bit quicker than baking, however like baking it depends on how fresh and hard the beets are and their size. A small sharp knife should slide in easily when cooked.
Add the baked or steamed beetroot to salads or add to a hummus dip for a pink hummus. A salad with rocket, roast pumpkin, beetroot, pine nuts and feta is delicious!