There’s no mistaking the distinct, deep purple, finger-staining juice of the hearty beetroot, which makes this vibrant vegetable one of the most beneficial plant foods you can eat.
Beets boast that characteristic earthy-rich and sumptuous flavour, and are often referred to as ‘blood-building’ foods – and for very good reasons. Brimming with heart friendly nutrients, such as folate and potassium, it is the unique natural source of nitrates (which converts into nitric oxide in the body) that makes beetroot so supportive to our systems. It is this compound that helps to dilate blood vessels, which in turn improves blood flow and lowers blood pressure. The juice has, in fact, been used in trials with athletes to improve performance, and it makes a great pre-workout boost – beets are also a decent source of iron and magnesium, both of which are important minerals to keep our energy levels well-balanced.
Most often talked about are the phytonutrients present in beets, in the form of their antioxidant betalain pigments. These powerful phytonutrients have been linked with helping to support anti-inflammatory and antioxidant processes, which means they help to negate environmental and internal stressors on the body, warding off free-radical damage. It is these same betalains that also help to support natural detoxification processes in the body, speeding up the rate at which we can shift toxins.
What’s more, beets are deliciously versatile. Whether you eat this beautiful root veg thinly sliced in a salad, simply roasted, pickled, made into a dip, juiced, or even as part of a dessert (try my beet brownies on psychologies.co.uk), it’s easy to up your beets and have fun doing it. And don’t throw away the green tops, as they are full of nutritional benefits, too – simply cook the leaves and eat them like spinach.
Plenish Pump, £4.95, contains beets, carrot, cherry and lime – great for a boost throughout the day or pre-workout (ocado.com)
Donna Hay’s ‘Life in Balance’ (HarperCollins, £18.99) is a great read about embracing the best of nature. See p83 for one of her veg recipes.
The Synergy Company Organic Beet Juice Powder, £39.98. A little goes a long way – add it to smoothies, yogurt or porridge (energy.co.uk)