The properties of beetroot
We know “beetroot” as the large, fleshy root that grows on the plant from which it gets its name. This sweet tasting vegetable has a soft, fine skin, and a colour between pink and purple.
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There are three varieties: the common or red beetroot, which is the one we eat as a vegetable, the sugar beet, which has a whiter colour, and the forage beet, which is used as animal fodder.
What is beetroot?
In reality, the root of the beetroot (Beta vulgaris) is the lower part of the plant’s stem. Beetroot originates from Mediterranean and Western Europe. Its consumption goes back to prehistoric times, first the leaves were eaten and then the underground part of some varieties. Later, in classic Greece, the roots of the beetroot were long, white or red, but always sweet. The thick, red variety that we eat today appeared a little before the 16th century.
The two great producers of “beetroot for the table”, that is, the one we use in the kitchen, are France and Italy. In Spain, it is grown in the winter time in the northern and central regions and in Levante, while in the spring and summer its production is focussed around the region of Andalucía.
The benefits of beetroot
It is rich in folic acid, which contributes to the growth of maternal tissue during pregnancy. It also helps to dispel tiredness and fatigue and contributes to the normal functioning of the immune system.
It is a source of manganese which, in normal conditions, contributes to the maintenance of bones and protects the cells against oxidative damage.
Additionally, the quantity of fibre contained in this food facilitates intestinal transit, helping to prevent constipation problems.
Its use in the kitchen
In the kitchen, beetroot can be eaten in different ways, which allows you to experiment with it and create attractive, healthy and tasty dishes.
If you want the product to maintain all its properties, you can eat beetroot in its raw state. This can be cut into cubes, sliced or grated. Season to taste, either with a little olive oil, lemon, pepper, garlic… you can combine it with your favourite vegetables and prepare a delicious salad.
Alternatively, one of the most common ways to eat it is to steam it, which also allows you to preserve its nutrients. Once cooked, you can use it to make delicious dishes such as soup, hummus, risotto or cold soups like gazpacho.
Detox juices have become increasingly fashionable and beetroot is the perfect food for juices based on fruits, which help us to keep our bodies clean. You only need to remove the leaves, the tip of the root, the skin and then wash it well. Cut it into small pieces and add it to the liquidiser along with a glass of water and the juice of a lemon. Then all you need to do is liquidise everything, sweeten to taste and enjoy a healthy and refreshing detox juice.