The benefits of drinking beetroot juice – from helping to boost stamina and make muscles work more efficiently to reducing blood pressure – have been in the news recently.
But the vegetable itself is more versatile than you might think – and is a great option for those who don’t want to drink the juice every day.
Research has shown that beetroot could 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 one to two cooked beetroot (approx 100g) is thought to be what it takes to deliver the health benefits.
Barbara Crick, who runs Emsworth Cookery School, says it’s a popular veg among fans of home-grown food because it’s easy to grow.
‘You can eat the leaves as well – not everyone thinks of doing that,’ she says.
‘They’re very sweet and tasty and look quite pretty because the pink of the beetroot runs through their veins.
‘They’re great mixed in with other leaves in a salad.’
Fresh, cooked beetroot can be used to create many delicious dishes.
Barbara suggests roasting it with other veg or using it in a risotto.
Other tasty options include goat’s cheese and beetroot tart and even sweet treats like sorbet, chocolate cake and chocolate brownies.
More dessert recipes including the root veg as an ingredient are emerging, and the presence of beetroot can help to make some of them a little healthier.
‘They can make a really nice moist chocolate cake. It sounds unusual but you wouldn’t necessarily know that you’re eating beetroot,’ says Barbara.
‘Also you can make lower fat brownies by replacing some of the moisture you get from the butter with moisture from the beetroot.’
Another popular recipe is borscht – an Eastern European beetroot soup.
More great nutrition news is that the veg contains potassium, magnesium and iron as well as vitamins A, B6 and C, and folic acid.
Beets also offer 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.