[caption id="attachment_4371" align="alignleft" width="150" caption="Beetroot"]Beetroot[/caption]

Beetroot is a lovely deep red in color and also known as table beet, garden beet, red beet or simply beet. The beet is a cool weather biennial cultivated as annual. Beets are grown from seeds sown in early spring and are ready to harvest 60 to 80 days after planting. Beets are not harmed by frost, but hot weather can toughen the roots. Thus, in regions with hotter summers, they are planted in early fall for winter and spring harvest. Consequently, fresh beets are available all year.

Usually the beetroot are eaten either boiled as a cooked vegetable or cold as a salad after cooking or also eaten by just adding oil and vinegar, or raw and shredded, either alone or combined with any salad vegetable. A large proportion of the commercial production is processed into boiled and sterilized beets or into pickles.

Beetroot remains have been excavated in the Third dynasty Saqqara pyramid at Thebes, Egypt, and four charred beetroots were found in the Neolithic site of Aartswoud in the Netherlands though it is difficult to determine whether these are domesticated or wild forms. They state the earliest written mention of the beet comes from 8th century BC Mesopotamia. The Greek Peripatetic Theophrastus later describes the beet as similar to the radish, while Aristotle also mentions the plant. Roman and Jewish literary sources suggest that by the 1st century BC the domestic beet was represented in the Mediterranean basin primarily by leafy forms like chard and spinach beet.

Modern sugar beets date back to mid-18th century Silesia where the king of Prussia subsidized experiments aimed at processes for sugar extraction. The sugar beet was also introduced to Chile via German settlers around 1850. Beetroot is used for dyeing. Betanin, obtained from the roots, is used industrially as red food colorants, e.g. to improve the color and flavor of tomato paste, sauces, desserts, jams and jellies, ice cream, sweets and breakfast cereals. Within older bulbs of beetroot, the color is a deep crimson and the flesh is much softer. Beetroot dye may also be used in ink. Betanin is not broken down in the body, and in higher concentration can temporarily cause urine (termed beeturia) and stool to assume a reddish color. This effect can cause distress and concern due to the visual similarity to bloody stools or urine, but is completely harmless and will subside once the food is out of the system.

Beetroot's main benefits are that it contains no fat, very few calories and is a great source of fibre. Beetroot has for many years been used as a treatment for cancer in Europe. Specific anti-carcinogens are bound to the red coloring matter which supposedly helps fight against cancer and beetroot also increases the uptake of oxygen by as much as 400 percent. Additional studies are taking place to add support to these claims. Beetroot can be eaten raw. You just need to peel it and it's ready to use. Beetroot can add a refreshing touch to a salad, a sandwich (try it with cheese!) or as an accompaniment to other veggies.

Beetroot can be steamed or cooked in boiling water. Cooking time can be from 20 to 50 minutes depending on the size of the beetroot. Test the beetroot with a skewer: when it's soft, remove it from the heat and cool it under running water - this will make the skin easier to remove for serving. You can serve cooked beetroot namely Grated beetroot curry or serve as a hot vegetable accompaniment to a meal (Beetroot chutney); or you could also make a healthy raw beetroot salad or beetroot halwa.

Beetroots are a rich source of potent antioxidants and nutrients, including magnesium, sodium, potassium and vitamin C, and betaine, which is important for cardiovascular health. Betaine functions in conjunction with S-adenosylmethionine, folic acid, and vitamins B6 and B12 to carry out this function.

Beetroot juice has been shown to lower blood pressure and thus help prevent cardiovascular problems. This vegetable is a good tonic food for health. It contains carbohydrates, mainly in the form of sugar, and it has a little protein and fat. Beet is taken in a variety of ways. The skin should be removed before use. The fresher the beets, the better the flavor and the quicker they cook.

The beet juice is considered as one of the best vegetable juice. It is a rich source of natural sugar. It contains sodium, potassium, phosphorus, calcium, sulphur, chlorine, iodine, iron, copper, and vitamin B1, B2, C and P. This juice is rich in easily digestible carbohydrates, but the calorie content is low. The protein factors or amino acids are good in both quality and quantity. Beets are of great therapeutic value. They have properties to clean the kidneys and gall bladder. Being rich in alkaline elements, potassium, calcium, magnesium and iron, they are useful in combating acidosis and acid the natural processes of elimination.

The nutritional value of the Beetroot: 100 g (3.5 oz) is:

Proteins:  1.61g

Total Calories: 43 Kcal

Total Carbohydrates: 9.56g

Dietary Fiber: 2.8g

Total Fat: 17g

Vitamin C: 4.9G

Calcium: 19 mg

Iron: 80 mg