Eat The Beet
Eat Well|Issue #25 2019

Beets are a nutrient-packed food that deserved the adjective “super” long before “superfoods” became a marketing term. Packed with antioxidants and loaded with flavour, organically grown beet is a wonderful, diverse addition to your table.

Cat Woods

Bright purple beets are popular internationally for their colour, flavour, nutritional power punch and adaptability, used raw grated, spiralised, boiled, baked or air-fried as chips. For relatively few calories, they are bursting with nutrients.

Beetroot belongs to the same family as spinach and chard with both the root vegetable and the leaves edible and nutritious. The green leaves are high in calcium, iron and vitamins A and C. Beetroot is a dependable source of folic acid, fibre, manganese and potassium.

The pigment that gives beetroot its deep, rich colour is betacyanin, a powerful antioxidant that fights free radicals in the body and is thought to boost the immune system.

Fitness fuel

Nitrates have been shown to improve sporting performance and lower blood pressure naturally. Dietary nitrates are converted to nitric oxide in the body, which dilates blood vessels and leads to a temporary (approximately six-hour) reduction in blood pressure.

Beetroot juice consumed prior to athletic activity has been proved to extend performance time prior to fatigue with an overall 1–2 per cent improvement in high-intensity exercise. For elite athletes, this can provide a significant competitive advantage.

Eating beetroot also improves cycling and athletic performance by increasing the efficiency of oxygen use in the body.

Blood nitrate levels peak within 2–3 hours of consumption, so beetroot juice should be consumed within this timeframe prior to competing or training.

The market for beetroot

Kane Busch from Busch Organics in Mitchell River Flats, Lindenow, in East Gippsland has been growing organic beets since 2000: “As we have beetroot for 10 months of the year, we ride the fluctuating market price to give us an average return. We market our not-so-perfect beetroot to processors.

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