Like many modern vegetables, beetroot was first cultivated by the Romans. By the 19th century it held great commercial value when it was discovered that beets could be converted into sugar. Today, the leading commercial producers include the USA, Russia, France, Poland and Germany. Many classic beetroot recipes are associated with central and Eastern Europe including the famous beetroot soup known as borscht.
Deep, earthy flavour and a whole lot of crunch, but what I love most about beetroot is the incredible colour that can transform anything shocking pink. The overpoweringly vibrant hue makes it one of the most bossy vegetables that can completely take over your dish. It comes from a pigment called betanin which is often extracted to create natural food colouring and dyes. Interestingly, beets were also used to add colour to wines back in the day.
Consuming fruits and vegetables of all kinds has long been associated with a reduced risk of many lifestyle-related health conditions. Many studies have suggested that increasing consumption of plant foods like beetroot decreases the risk of obesity and overall mortality, diabetes, heart disease and promotes a healthy complexion and hair, increased energy, overall lower weight.
Drinking beetroot juice increases blood flow to the brain in older people, which may be able to fight the progression of dementia, a 2010 study suggested.
Beetroot contains high concentrations of nitrates, which are converted into nitrites by bacteria in the mouth. Nitrites help dilate (widen) blood vessels in the body, increasing blood flow and oxygen to places lacking in oxygen.