As a vegetarian I’m always keen to find out how I can maximize vitamin/mineral intake within my diet. So after speaking with an acupuncturist about improving my blood circulation and health in general, he suggested increasing the quantity of beet in my diet because of its multiple health benefits.

Although having mixed popularity across Europe, the beet’s strong-hold has been and still is, in Eastern Europe. As a plant, it’s easy to grow and withstands the frost and harsh weather very well, hence it is grown and eaten in abundance in that region.

Beet Salad

Fresh beets are naturally sweet, very healthy and a colorful addition to the table. Enjoy them in this easy Beet Salad with a lemon vinaigrette. To cook beets, simply boil or pressure cook whole beet roots in water until tender – when you can insert a sharp knife to the center of the beets, they’re done. Rinse in cold water, and slide off the skins. Cold Beet Salad can be prepared a day in advance. If making the same day as serving, allow an hour or more for the salad to chill and marinate.

Beetroot will seldom win vegetable beauty pageants. They are difficult to peel and its ruby coloured juices stain your fingers when you cut them. These attributes can put people off from preparing it; hence it is either purchased mainly via easy-to-use vacuum packs, pickled in jars or they are dismissed completely.

But for those that persevere with beetroot, whichever format you buy it in, you will give yourself an instant vitamin/mineral boost and when consumed whilst hot, you’ll feel an inner warmth that few foods can provide.

In order to make the most of the fresh beetroot plant, keep the green leafy stalks. When they are boiled or steamed they have a similar taste to spinach.

For inspiration next time you wish to include beetroot in your meal, try recipes for Ukrainian/Slavic borscht soup. Another option might be a side dish of hot grated beetroot with apple & spices, or roasted beetroot with other root vegetables or perhaps even beetroot risotto.  For those with a sweet tooth, try chocolate & beetroot brownies.

Beetroot Benefits include:

1. Amongst other properties, beetroot contains potassium, protein, fibre, iron, magnesium, folic acid and vitamins (A, B6 and C).

2. Suggestions show that it reduces blood pressure and the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

3. The mineral silica is found in beetroots and as this helps to utilize calcium, it may contribute to keeping osteoporosis at bay.

4. The soluble fibre within beetroot is known to help combat cholesterol.

5. Beetroots are an excellent source of iron and folic acid, making it a super-food for expectant mothers.

6. Relatively low in calories and almost fat free, it makes an excellent meal accompaniment for those on a weight-loss diet.

7. Beetroots are full of nitrates, which in turn produce nitric oxide in the bloodstream, which aids blood flow to the brain.  Based on this fact, studies in the USA have shown that beetroot may also help to control the advancement of dementia because of its high nitrate content and ability to assist blood flow.