Beetroot has been naturally growing alongside the coastlines of Asia, Europe, and North Africa for centuries. It is believed that only the Beet Greens (The leafy part of beetroots) was grown and consumed during the prehistoric era. The sweet red bulb beetroot that we consume today, wasn’t cultivated till the ancient Rome period, but that too not for consumption, but only for its remedial properties, that were the treatment of ailment related to digestion or blood. It wasn’t until 1542, that beetroot was grown for consumption in Italy and Germany.
It wasn’t until 1700’s that beetroot was embraced by North Eastern Europe as a dietary staple. In 1747, a chemist in Berlin, named Andreas Sigismund Marggraf along with his student named Franz Achard, discovered the method of extracting sugar from beets. Today, almost 20 percent of world’s sugar comes from beets. Sugarcane production requires almost 4 times more water than the production of beetroots. For that reason, beets are a popular crop choice throughout Europe and in infertile countries like Egypt. Presently, the leading producers of beet sugar are USA, Russia, France, Poland, and Germany.
Beetroots contain an organic compound called geosmin, which is responsible for a distinctive earthy aroma (petrichor), that you normally smell when the rain falls after a dry spell of weather. This gives beetroots a very earthy flavor. However, humans are very sensitive to geosmin compound, so some of us either love the earthy sweet taste of beets and the rest can’t stand the thought of beetroots. That being said, beets should be a part of your regular dietary regime, as the nutrients they provide are not only unique and health-boosting but you may not find these nutrients in other food items you consume.
So Why Eat Beetroot?
Lowers Your Blood Pressure
Beetroots contain nitrates which are converted into nitric oxide when consumed by your body. This dilates your blood vessels and helps you relax, paving way for easy flow of blood through your veins. According to one recent study, drinking a glass of beet juice lowered the blood pressure by 4-5 points in just a matter of hours. In another study published in the 2011 Medicine and Science in Sports & Exercise journal, that says cyclists could cut 11 seconds off of their four-kilometer times, and 45 seconds off of their 16.1-kilometer times, by drinking beet juice prior to cycling.
As mentioned above, the nitrates in beets provide easy blood flow in your blood vessels. This helps you exercise longer. This was proved by a study where subjects had a glass of beet juice prior to exercise and they were able to perform the exercise for up to 16 percent longer. The nitrates ease the oxygen flow thus enhancing your tolerance for high-intensity exercises.
Reduces Risk of Cancer
Research has shown that beetroots have successfully been able to reduce the risk of cancer. The awesome phytonutrients that give beets its reddish color are known to help fight cancer. Administering beetroot extracts in simple drinking water has shown a reduction in various tumor formations in the animals that were the subject of research. More research is currently underway.
Beetroots are a high source of immune-boosting Vitamin C. It has lots of fiber that aids in digestion. It is also rich in minerals like manganese that is essential for healthy bones, and proper functioning of liver, kidneys, and pancreas. Another essential mineral that beets have is potassium which aids healthy nerve and muscles functioning. Also present in Vitamin B Folate that helps reduce the risk of birth effects. Pregnant women are often asked to include beetroots in their diets for the same reason.
Beetroots are rich in a nutrient called Betaine. This nutrient shields your body’s protein, enzymes and body cells from environmental stress. It generally helps you fight inflammation, protects internal organs, improves vascular risk factors, enhances performance, and likely help prevent numerous chronic diseases. According to World’s Healthiest Food publication “Betaine’s presence in our diet has been associated with lower levels of several inflammatory markers, including C reactive protein, interleukin-6, and tumor necrosis factor alpha. As a group, the anti-inflammatory molecules found in beets may eventually be shown to provide cardiovascular benefits in large-scale human studies, as well as anti-inflammatory benefits for other body systems.”
Beetroots have, since ages, been known for its medicinal properties of purifying the blood and liver. The belatin substance found in beets are known for aiding in the detoxification process. It helps excrete the broken down toxins from your body. Beets are often recommended to people with low hemoglobin.
Works as Aphrodisiac
In Greek Mythology, Aphrodite, who is considered the Goddess of love, was believed to have regularly eaten beetroots, to enhance her appeal. This might be mythological but is not a farfetched theory as per the recent studies. Beets contain substances like tryptophan and betaine. Both these substances arouse the feeling of well-being in humans. Another substance present in beets, called boron is known for increasing the levels of sex hormones in a human being. Even during the times of ancient Rome, people believed that drinking beet juice encouraged amorous moods.
Did You Know?
Beet Greens, the leaves of beetroots are usually thrown away. However, as mentioned before, in the prehistoric era, it was only that the beet greens were cultivated. They are pretty similar to spinach family. Beet greens are abundant in important nutrients like protein, phosphorus, zinc, vitamin B6, magnesium, potassium, copper, manganese, vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, and iron. In fact, they have a slightly higher amount of iron than spinach.
Juice of red beets was used by women in the 19th century, to color their lips and cheeks. This practice inspired the old age saying “red as a beet”.
Beets were used to giving color to most of the wines in the middle 19th Century.
Bartolomeo Platina, a renaissance writer, and gastronomist proved that taking beetroot with garlic, nullified the effects of “Garlic Breath”.
Beetroots are rich in a compound called Betanin, which is used as an industrial food colorant. It is used in common to enhance the colors and flavors of tomato pastes, sauces, jams and jellies, ice creams among various other applications.
A raw form beetroot is 88 percent water, 10 percent carbohydrates, 2 percent proteins and less than 0.2 percent fat.
You Should Know
The compound that gives the red color to beetroots is betanin and our body is unable to break it down. Consuming moderate to high concentration of beetroots temporarily causes your urine and stool to take on the red color. This condition is called beeturia. This is absolutely harmless but it does scare people due to its close resemblance to blood in the urine or stool.
Beetroot has existed for centuries. It’s a powerful vegetable that you should include once in a while in your diet. The sweet earthy red-bulb vegetable can be eaten raw or you can boil, grill, steam, roast or pickle them. The beet greens can be added raw to various salads or they can be served boiled or steam just like spinach.
You should try Borscht, which is a sour soup made from beetroots and is very popular in Eastern European cuisines. Many people prefer beetroot and apple salad as well. Personally, I am particularly fond of beetroot and radish salad myself. If you fancy nothing from these, then you can always have beetroot juice and make it as per your liking.
I hope our article helped you in some way or the other. If you have any additional information or recipe that you would like to share with all of us, regarding beets, then please do not hesitate to add your precious comments. Also, do not forget to share these amazing benefits of beetroots with your family and friends. Live Healthy and Stay Happy!