Also known as the garden beet, the beetroot is a sweet, maroon root vegetable. It is a healthy, low-calorie food filled with fiber. It is known to help improve health conditions such as high blood pressure. The leaves of the red beet can also be eaten.
Beets can be consumed in a variety of ways. If consumed raw, beets should first be peeled. The top and bottom of the root should also be removed prior to ingesting. Beets can also be boiled, sautéed, pickled, fried, juiced, steamed, pureed, grilled, or baked. When cooking beets, the skin may be left on until it is loose enough to fall off, retaining the vegetable's vivid color.
Soups made from beets, such as cold borsch, are popular in Europe. Pickled beets are a typical way of serving the plant; these are often served on hamburgers in Australia and New Zealand. Juices from the pickled vegetables are often used to prepare other dishes, such as hardboiled eggs, as well. Another common way of serving the vegetable is as a side dish or salad component.
The healthy table beet can promote cardiovascular health. Eating beets is often suggested as part of a low-fat diet to help prevent heart disease. A single serving of beetroot contains only 36 calories. In addition to fiber, the vegetable provides a good source of folate and potassium. Its leaves are also considered a good source of nutrients, such as iron and calcium.
Bulbus red beets are known for the antioxidant beta-carotene. The presence of this free radical-fighting component has caused some scientists to use beets in cancer treatment programs. The medicinal plant is also used to treat many other illnesses, such as problems with digestion, kidney and liver disorders, and constipation. Circulation problems and anemia may also be treated with it.
Canned beets are generally considered to have an inferior taste to fresh beets. Beetroot can be grown at home by planting seeds following the last frost of the spring. The plants require sparse, weekly watering during the majority of the season, with daily moisture provided on hot days.
Caution should be used when preparing beetroot. The colorful pigmentation of the vegetable can stain clothing. If consumed in large quantities, the vegetable can also cause discoloration, typically in a shade of pink, of the urine. This light sensitive vegetable will also turn colors when cut and exposed to light.