Since the Middle Ages beetroot has been used for its magical medicinal powers. The Romans grew it in abundance and it was commonly used to treat a range of ailments including fevers, constipation, wounds and skin problems.
Today it is best known for its delicious earthy flavour, deep purple colour and its perfect match for goat’s cheese and oily mackerel. But its health boosting powers are still vast. In fact, the more you dig, the more you realise just how good beetroot is for you!
Like their friend the brightly coloured blueberry, beetroots are naturally packed full of powerful antioxidants. It is Betacynin that gives beetroot its colour but also helps to reduce cholesterol and consequently helps reduce the risk of heart disease and strokes.
Beetroot also contains essential minerals including potassium, magnesium, silica and iron, helping to boost energy, treat anaemia and fatigue and protect against osteoporosis. It is rich in vitamins too, especially folic acid, which is essential for normal tissue growth, as well as vitamins A, B6 and C.
Most recently a study by a US university found that beetroot’s high nitrate content can fight the progression of dementia, as it helps increase blood flow to the brain. Its folic acid content has also been claimed to protect against Alzheimer’s and dementia.
But it was a different type of magic power that the Romans loved it for the most. They used beetroot as an aphrodisiac, which has since been thought to have some substance, as one of its components, boron, is known to be directly related to the production of human sex hormones!
So this sweet, earthy root is not only delicious, but good for you in more ways than one! What’s more, it is in season right now and we have been developing some delicious recipes for you to try. Roast it, boil it, turn your risotto bright purple with it; we challenge you to harness the power of the beetroot!
Try this seasonal recipe
Cook 200g of puy lentils in water for 20 minutes or until softened
Wash and cube red and golden beetroot, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and cumin and roast on 180C for 35-45 minutes or until a cutlery knife goes through
In the meantime, prepare the dressing by combining 3 tablespoons of olive oil with 1 tablespoon of sherry vinegar, a pinch of salt and finely chopped thyme leaves and mix with the lentils and a handful of salad greens
Arrange on a plate and top with cobnuts (in season and delicious), the cooked beetroot, goat’s cheese and borage flowers