Remind us why beetroot is so good for you?
No matter how you feel about beets, you can’t deny the veggie’s health benefits. The plant pigment that gives beetroot its rich, purple-crimson colour is betacyanin; a powerful agent thought to suppress the development of certain cancers, including lung, colon and skin cancers.
Consistently ranked as one of the ten most potent antioxidant vegetables on the planet, beetroots are one of the richest sources of glutamine, an amino acid essential to the health and maintenance of the intestinal tract. And countless studies have proven their ability to reduce blood pressure (drinking a single glass of beetroot juice can lower systolic blood pressure by up to five points for 24 hours); boost the immune system; ward off dementia; reduce the risk of osteoporosis; prevent birth defects (thanks to high levels of folic acid, which can prevent neural tube defects such as spina bifida); and help you detox.
So what’s the latest?
If that wasn’t enough, recent research has revealed beetroot can help to enhance your athletic ability. A study carried out by the University of Exeter showed drinking beetroot juice a couple of hours before a sporting event can boost stamina and oxygen uptake, helping athletes to exercise for up to 16% longer.
A separate study found eating baked beetroot can improve runners’ speed by 3% over a 5k run – significant over such a short distance - as well as aid recovery. Moreover, studies have suggested this boost in oxygen uptake can also boost brain function.
The UK is experiencing a beet boom say consumer analysts, with ASDA reporting a 35% year-on-year increase in sales, so it’s never been easier to stock up on the purple vegetable. Plus, the Internet is awash with beetroot recipes – try combining it with feta and rocket for a colourful and tasty salad, blending it into a soup or blitzing it with chickpeas and tahini for a twist on the traditional hummus. Just remember that while heirloom varieties like white and golden yellow beets make for pretty dishes, it’s only the classic red beetroot that boasts the cancer-fighting compound betacyanin.
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