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Did you know?
The ancestor of this vegetable that we know today was the wild sea beet which grew in Africa, the Middle East and Europe. Its leaves have been eaten since prehistoric times.
Ancient Assyrian texts revealed that beetroot was grown in the Hanging Gardens of Babylon in 800 BCE.
It has been recorded that the Ancient Greeks used beetroot to treat a variety of conditions such as constipation, toothache, headaches, wounds and skin problems. In fact, Hippocrates recommended it for binding wounds, cleansing the blood and treating digestive problems. It was often used as an offering to Apollo.
The ancient Romans were the first people to cultivate beetroot as food and they used it as an aphrodisiac. There is some truth in this because it contains high levels of ‘boron’ which is used to boost testosterone levels, amongst other uses. The saying, “taking favours in the beetroot fields,” was a popular euphemism for prostitution.
It was first used to create pink cake icing by the early American colonists
Beetroot has been used since the 16th century as a natural red dye.
In 1975, Soviet cosmonauts gave American astronauts ‘borscht’ (beetroot soup) as a symbol of camaraderie. They jokingly pasted vodka labels over the tubes of pink soup!
This vegetable can come in various colours like yellow, white and red and white stripes on the inside; as pictured below. It’s known as Candy Cane beetroot.
It is related to chard, spinach and quinoa.
‘Betanin,’ beetroot’s red pigment, is used to colour tomato paste, sauces, sweets, breakfast cereals, ice cream, jams and jellies.
Finally, the world’s heaviest beetroot was grown in Cwmbran, Wales in May 2019. It weighed 23.995kg!
8 Health Benefits of Beetroot.
This vegetable contains almost all the vitamins and minerals that you need. Also;
- The red variety contains ‘betacyanin’ which may suppress the development of some types of cancer.
- Reduces your blood pressure. Beetroot is rich in nitrates which helps to improve your blood flow by relaxing the blood vessels, reducing arterial stiffness and promoting dilation.
- May improve your exercise performance and support energy levels. This could be because when your muscles are in a resting state, the nitrates, as above, will also help to bring more oxygen to the muscle cells and help you recover more efficiently.
- Helps to improve your digestive health. Beetroot is a rich source of ‘glutamine’ an amino acid essential to the health and maintenance of your gut. As well as supporting bowel function, glutamine helps to support your gut environment and the beneficial bacteria that live there.
- Helps to fight inflammation in your body.
- May reduce pain and discomfort associated with osteoarthritis. This was revealed by a study where participants’ pain was reduced by taking ‘betalain’ capsules made with beetroot extract. More research is needed.
- Helps to boost your immune system. It promotes the growth of good bacteria in your gut. Having these organisms help you to fight disease.
- Quite recently, nitrates in beetroot juice have been suggested by a study that they promote the growth of oral bacteria that are associated with reducing age-related declines in cardiovascular and cognitive health.
Warning. Beetroot is not suitable for people with a history of kidney stones.
I have to say that I don’t particularly like beetroot. I started to eat a little bit recently because it was in one or two starters when I ate out. Surprisingly, I found that I really enjoyed it. Also, I love drinking beetroot latte.
Do you like beetroot? How do you eat or drink it? Feel free to tell me in the comments section below.
Sources: the spruceeats.com, rxlist.com, factretriever.com, softschools.com, self.com, bbcgoodfood.com, healthline.com, medicalnewstoday.com, webmd.com