By Sue Bedford (MSc Nutritional Therapy)
Beetroot are in season so why not reap the health benefits by trying some of our delicious and nutritious recipes? Beetroot may not be at the top of the vegetable list for many but nutritionally they are fantastic, so worth giving a try! They are a great source of fibre, folate, iron, vitamin C, potassium…the list goes on! It’s often tastier, more nutritious and better value to buy local seasonal produce. Try to buy from your local shops, market and butchers if possible and help the environment too.
Why are Beetroot good for health?
In studies, numerous health benefits of consuming beetroot have been identified such as: helping to lower blood pressure, improve brain function and memory as well as improving circulation and blood flow in the body.
Eating beetroot helps to increase blood circulation because beetroot is rich in nitrate which when converted to nitric oxide by a series of reactions in the body acts as an important vasodilator. Beetroot contains Betacyanin, a powerful antioxidant, which has been shown to reduce homocysteine levels (homocysteine is an amino acid produced when proteins are broken down, a high level of it can indicate a deficiency in vitamin B12 and folate. It has been linked to causing damage to the artery walls and causing blood clots if too high). Beetroot is also a very good source of iron. Iron is a key component in preventing anemia by sustaining healthy red blood cell counts. The vitamin C contained within beetroot is a powerful antioxidant which helps to prevent cell damage and ageing due to free radical damage.
Beetroot and fertility
In relation to fertility, Beetroot is a good source of the antioxidant resveratrol, which is thought to help combat against age- related infertility. Healthy circulation is essential to enable blood flow to the uterus and the nitrate found within beetroot aids this. Promoting circulation to the uterus is crucial for improving uterine health and for pregnancy preparation. For women undergoing IVF treatment with a thin uterine lining, consider trying a glass of beetroot juice each day, in combination with other foods that increase blood flow, such as a handful of blueberries.
Beetroot contains a high level of folate which is essential when it comes to female fertility because it helps to reduce homocysteine levels (an amino acid that helps blood clot). If homocysteine levels are too high there is a chance that blood will clot too easily, which can create blockages that could potentially affect the placenta. Folate is also thought to help with implantation.
Research shows that poor levels of folate (vitamin B9) are linked to a low sperm count and decreased sperm mobility. Beetroot contains a good amount of this vitamin so can help support male fertility. Beetroot contains plenty of vitamins C and E too important antioxidants which help prevent free radical damage to the DNA inside the nucleus of the sperm and have been linked to improving sperm quality and preventing sperm agglutination.
Why not enjoy beetroot:
• Finely grated mixed with horseradish and crème fraiche with smoked trout and organic seeded bread or sourdough
•Quartered and tossed with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and whole garlic cloves. Add some fresh oregano, thyme or marjoram, place in a pouch made from baking paper to avoid burning and roast in a hot oven.
• In a shot or juice
Ingredients (use organic where possible).
• 400g (2-3 medium beetroot) beetroot, chopped
• 150g Dark Cooking Chocolate (70 or 80% cocoa)
• 100g Butter
• 1tsp vanilla extract
• 200g brown sugar or stevia
• 3 Free-range eggs
• 100g wholemeal plain flour (or plain flour of your choice)
• 30g cocoa powder
1. Top, tail and peel the beetroot. Roughly chop and place into a pan of water and cook on the hob until tender.
2. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Butter then line a 20cm x 30cm tin. Roughly chop the chocolate and cut the butter into cubes.
3. Drain the beetroot through a sieve, then place into a food processor with the chocolate, butter and vanilla. Whizz until the mix has melted and is as smooth as you can get it.
4. Whisk the sugar and eggs in a large bowl for about 2 minutes or until thick, pale and foamy.
5. Spoon the beetroot mixture into the bowl with the whisked eggs. Then, using a large metal spoon, gently fold the beetroot into the whisked eggs, keeping as much air in the mixture as you can. Sift the flour and cocoa powder into the bowl and gently fold in to make a smooth batter.
6. Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 20-25 minutes or until risen all over. Cool the brownies completely in the tin, then cut into squares. Serves 15-20 squares.
Cold Beetroot soup
- 4 beetroot (peeled and cooked, keep the cooking liquid)
- 1 cucumber (medium) cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 2 hard-boiled eggs (peeled and chopped in half)
- 2 spring onions finely chopped
- ½ pint sour cream
- 1 pint buttermilk
- Pinch of Salt (to taste)
- Pepper (to taste)
- Garnish: fresh chopped dill
- Place the beetroot into a pan of boiling water and cook until soft. Meanwhile chop up the cucumbers and spring onions.
- When the beetroot is cooked, remove them from the cooking liquid (keep the cooking liquid) and cool them in the fridge for at least 1 hour. When cool, grate the beetroots using a grater (coarsely).
- Strain the beetroot cooking liquid and return it the pan. Add the sour cream and buttermilk and stir well together.
- Mix in grated beetroot, chopped cucumbers and spring onions. Stir until well blended. Season.
- Pour into a container and refrigerate until well chilled. Serve in a chilled bowl or glass topped with the boiled eggs (halved) and sprinkle some fresh dill over the top. Enjoy!