Often called a ‘superfood’, beetroot adds more than a splash of colour to mealtimes; it also provides a winning combination of health benefits.

1. Cheap and easy

Pick up a jar of pickled beetroot to perk up your plate – for only 70p at Tesco or 50p at Morrisons (as of June 2022).

This convenient alternative to fresh beetroot not only saves time and reduces waste, but also spares us from purple fingers — as can happen when prepping and cooking the fresh variety!

2. Powerful antioxidant

Making it into the top 10 of plants with high antioxidant levels, red beetroot (Beta Vulgaris L) contains beneficial antioxidants that help to protect the body from harmful molecules (free radicals) associated with inflammation and chronic disease.

3. All those nutrients

Beetroot comes packed with other nutrients including dietary nitrates. These help to protect the heart and artery walls, and also to lower blood pressure.

Additionally, beetroot has good levels of dietary fibre, minerals (potassium, sodium, iron, copper, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, and zinc) and vitamins (A, C, E and B).

4. Beautiful betacyanin

Although orange and yellow beetroots are also available, the red variety grabs the headlines because of its intense colour, which is derived from a powerful antioxidant called betacyanin.

This water soluble antioxidant contains a pigment (betanin, also known as E162), which is used commercially as a food colourant or as an antioxidant to extend the shelf life of food.

Beetroot’s antioxidants have been associated with a lower risk of some cancers, cardiovascular disease and dementia, and with supporting liver and kidney health.

A bitter-sweet result of the pickling process, however, is that small amounts of these antioxidants are lost.

5. Vinegar

Most UK commercial beets are pickled in malt vinegar, which has added salt and sugar. Beets themselves are also rich in natural sugars, but thanks to the beet's dietary fibre, these sugars release slowly, helping to keep blood sugar and energy levels stable.

Vinegar does also have beneficial properties of its own. Acetic acid in vinegar can help support glucose and insulin levels after eating, aid fat metabolism and help to regulate blood pressure. It also has antimicrobial properties.

6. Fabulous fermentation

Bacteria and other microorganisms present in the fermenting process also produce bioactive substances: some of the benefits of vinegar.

Fermenting provides other beneficial substances including amino acids (GABA) and vitamins, which contribute to beetroots’ antioxidative, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and anti-ageing activity.

However, you can have too much of a good thing, and frequent use of strong vinegar can cause dental erosion and irritation to the throat.

A quick tip for beetroot stains…

Beetroot is a natural dye so act quickly if you spill it or the stain will set. Good news — the red pigment is water soluble, so run it under a cold water tap (never hot as this sets the stain).

Allow the running water to flush out the stain and finish with washing up liquid if needed.

To remove stains from chopping boards, surfaces or hands, take half a lemon and sprinkle with salt, rub gently, rinse with water and wipe clean.

7. Get creative!

Why not make your own pickled beetroot using fresh or precooked beets? To spice them up, add other nutritious ingredients such as garlic and ginger, or experiment using apple cider vinegar for extra bioactive compounds, and spices for extra flavour.

Pickled beets are a colourful addition to salads. Try topping a slice of beetroot with cottage cheese or feta, or serve your salad with a bed of beetroot leaves — also rich in antioxidants (visible in the red veins and green leaves).

If cooking with fresh beetroot, why not try it in homemade cheese muffins or blitzed into hummus? We even have a recipe for seeded beetroot cake that you can try!

Or, instead of opening a bag of crisps, try making your own baked beetroot chips (beetroot sliced and drizzled with olive oil and baked in the oven).

Beetroot is so versatile — you can roast it as a side vegetable with oil and garlic, to go alongside beef or fish, or roast it with chickpeas as we have done here.

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