Focus on Beetroot by Dr. Sarah Schenker

Beetroots are a food that you should include in your diet on a regular basis – not just when you eat at a trendy restaurant. They are popular with chefs as they look amazing and have a distinctive flavour, but the reason you should eat them is because they are packed with essential vitamins, minerals and plant compounds, some of which have medicinal properties.

  • Beetroot contains a high concentration of nitrates, which have lower blood pressure. This can help to reduce the risk of heart attacks, heart failure and stroke.
  • Eating beetroot can help to enhance athletic performance by improving oxygen use and time to exhaustion. To maximize their effects, consume beetroot juice 2–3 hours prior to training or competing.
  • Beetroot contains pigments called betalains, which possess a number of anti-inflammatory properties. Chronic inflammation is associated with diseases, such as obesity, heart disease, liver disease and cancer.
  • Beetroot is a good source of fibre, which is beneficial for promoting good gut bacteria and improving digestive health. It can also help to prevent conditions like constipation, inflammatory bowel disease and diverticulitis as well as reduce the risk of chronic health conditions including colon cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
  • Beetroot contains nitrates, which may help increase blood flow to the brain, improve cognitive function and reduce the risk of dementia.
  • Adding beetroot to your diet can aid weight loss. The fibre in beetroot can help to reduce appetite and promote feelings of fullness, thereby reducing overall calorie intake.

Looking for inspiration, try these tasty beetroot recipes

Roasted beetroot with spiced orange and goat’s cheese

Serves 2

Ingredients

2 carrots, peeled and cut into batons

4 medium beetroot, ready cooked, halved or quartered

1 red onion, cut into wedges

3 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp ras el hanout

1 tsp cumin seeds

Handful of fresh mint leaves

50g goat’s cheese, crumbled

Method

Pre-heat the oven to 200°C/gas 5.

Place the carrot batons, beetroot and red onion in a roasting pan, add the orange juice and olive oil, season well with a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper. Sprinkle with the ras el hanout and cumin seeds.

Bake for 40 minutes until the vegetables are softened and sticky.

Divide between two bowls, crumble on the goat’s cheese and top with mint leaves.

Beetroot hummus

Makes 8 servings

Ingredients

500g raw beetroot, leaves trimmed

2 x 400g tins chickpeas, drained and rinsed

Juice of 2 lemons

1 tbsp ground cumin

4 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp Greek yogurt

Method

Cook the beetroot a large pan of boiling water with the lid on for 30–40 minutes until tender. When they’re done, a skewer or knife should go all the way in easily. Drain, then set aside to cool.

Peel the beetroot and discard the roots (wear rubber gloves to prevent your hands from staining). Roughly chop the flesh and then place into a food processor along with the chickpeas, lemon juice, cumin and olive oil and whizz together until a coarse paste has been formed. Season with a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Transfer to a serving bowl and then swirl through the Greek yogurt. Serve with veg sticks, oatcakes or wholemeal pitta bread.

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