Fall in love with Beetroot: why this superfood is such a nutrient powerhouse

shutterstock_363944324-woman-holding-beetroot-jan16Beetroot is finally ditching its ‘pickled vegetable in a jar’ image! With its wonderful deep purple colour and distinct flavour, beetroot makes a great addition to any salad, roasted vegetable medley, smoothie and even cakes!

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Clinical Nutritionist, Suzie Sawyer, gives us her seven reasons why we should all be eating more beetroot in our diet as well as a few recipe ideas.

 

IT’S GOOD FOR THE HEART

shutterstock_262701575-woman-blood-pressure-sept16Beetroot is packed full of nutrients, and is a particularly rich source of folic acid, fibre, vitamin C and potassium, all of which benefit the heart. Drinking beetroot juice can have a positive effect on the reduction in blood pressure.  This is partly due to its nitrate content: nitric acid encourages dilation of blood vessels, thereby reducing blood pressure.

IT’S GREAT FOR THE IMMUNE SYSTEM

shutterstock_69606442-woman-with-cold-immunity-sept16Beetroot is an excellent source of vitamin C which is one of the hardest working nutrients in maintaining immunity in the body.  However, it’s the plant pigment betacyanin, which gives beetroot is beautiful rich, purple colour and this really contains all the power; it provides an excellent source of antioxidants which are also essential in supporting the immune system.

IT BOOSTS EXERCISE PERFORMANCE

shutterstock_285214598-woman-running-sunset-sept16Beetroot is widely used by athletes because of its well-researched ability to enhance exercise performance, particularly endurance exercise.  Again, it’s down to the nitric oxide effect, which encourages dilation of the blood vessels thereby increasing oxygen flow.  Numerous studies have confirmed this finding; one in particular followed power cyclists and found their performance to be enhanced after drinking beetroot juice.[1]

IT HELPS DETOXIFICATION

shutterstock_86000653-beetroot-juice-detox-sept16Beetroot naturally helps to detoxify the liver; it actually encourages phase 2 of the liver’s detoxification processes which is where toxins are excreted from the body.  It’s therefore a really popular vegetable in any juice-based detoxification programme, but also for anyone wanting to keep their liver super-cleansed!

IT’S GOOD FOR THE EYES

shutterstock_369077771-woman-eyes-sept16This is primarily down to the rich sources of beta-carotene in beetroot.  This is an excellent nutrient for helping to slow down macular degeneration which is quite a common condition especially as we age, and is associated with free radical damage to the eyes, which can result in some loss of vision.  Beta-carotene is turned into vitamin A in the body which helps to defend the eyes against the damaging effects of these free radicals.

IT’S RICH IN FIBRE

shutterstock_224093191-woman-good-digestion-heart-on-stomach-sept16Beetroot is rich in fibre, which means it’s great for the digestive system and bowels.  And don’t forget the green stalks and leaves of the beetroot – these are rich in iron and can be cooked just like spinach; very lightly steamed to retain as many nutrients as possible.

IT’S GREAT FOR ANTIOXIDANTS

shutterstock_370121381-woman-sun-beach-sept16With so many dreaded free radicals bombarding us every day from air pollution, smoking, drinking, toxins in the food chain, the sun (the list is endless!), your body can always use some help in increasing its naturally protective antioxidant systems.

Beetroot appears to increase one of the most powerful antioxidant enzymes in the body, glutathione peroxidase, which keeps a good check on those free radicals and also helps us to stay looking (and feeling) young.

DELICIOUS BEETROOT IDEAS

So those are my top 7 reasons why beetroot is such a winner! And here are some ideas on how to include it in your diet:

Super salads:

shutterstock_384500149-beetroot-and-goats-cheese-salad-sept16One of the tastiest and easiest ways to use beetroot is in a salad and it works particularly well with goat’s cheese.

So make up a traditional dressing using Dijon mustard, some honey, olive oil, crushed garlic and lemon juice.  Then slice the beetroot very thinly and arrange overlapping slices on the plate.  Drizzle a little of the dressing over the beetroot.  Slice the goat’s cheese and place on top of the beetroot and then pile a handful of mixed leaves (containing rocket) on the top.  Drizzle some more dressing and you’ve got yourself a delicious lunch or fabulous starter!

Brownies, bakes and blitzes!

shutterstock_387461188-chocolate-and-beetroot-cake-sept16Other great ways to use beetroot are roasted with carrots and sweet potato, adding balsamic vinegar, olive oil and honey. Try baking with white fish, lemon, basil and serve with crème fraiche. Use beetroot to make brownies with eggs, sugar, cocoa powder and butter. Or why not simply blitz into a juice with carrot, kale and ginger.

Whatever you do with beetroot, it’s always going to bring you amazing nutritional benefits so get creative!

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[1] Rimer EG et al.  Acute dietary nitrate supplementation increases maximal cycling power in athletes. Int J Sports Physiol. Perform. 2015 Dec 2

 

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