It is a herbaceous biennial or perennial plant with leafy stems growing to 1-2 m tall
The Beet (Beta vulgaris) is a flowering plant in the family Amaranthaceae, native to the coasts of western and southern Europe, from southern Sweden and the British Isles south to the Mediterranean Sea.
It is a herbaceous biennial or perennial plant with leafy stems growing to 1-2 m tall. The leaves are heart-shaped, 5-20 cm long on wild plants (often much larger in cultivated plants). The flowers are produced in dense spikes, each flower very small, 3-5 mm diameter, green or tinged reddish, with five petals; they are wind-pollinated. The fruit is a cluster of hard nutlets.
Nutrients in Beetroot
Beet greens are a very good source of calcium, iron, Vitamins A and C. Beetroots are an excellent source of folic acid. They are a very good source of fiber, manganese and potassium. Beet greens and beetroot are a good source of phosphorus, magnesium, iron and vitamin B6. Betacyanin is the pigment that gives beetroot its color, and has powerful antioxidant properties. A comprehensive breakdown of nutrients can be found in our Nutrient Database
* Cholesterol Lowering
Beet fiber has been shown to have cholesterol lowering capabilities. In a study on rats with induced high blood cholesterol, a red beet fiber diet caused a reduction of serum cholesterol and triglyceride levels (by 30 and 40%, respectively) and a significant increase in HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol). This diet induced also a significant decrease (almost by 30%) of cholesterol content in the aorta. * Blood Pressure Lowering
Beetroot juice has been shown to lower blood pressure in subjects with normal blood pressure. In healthy volunteers, approximately 3 hours after ingestion of 500 ml of beetroot juice, blood pressure was substantially reduced, an effect that correlated with peak increases in plasma nitrite concentration, nitrite being the blood pressure reducing ingredient. The decrease in blood pressure was not evident in participants who did not swallow their saliva while drinking beetroot juice as the conversion from nitrate to nitrite was interrupted by the absence of saliva.
*Cardiovascular Disease Prevention
Betaine, a nutrient found in beets and some other foods lowers plasma homocysteine, a possible risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Betaine supplements are manufactured as a byproduct of sugar beet processing. Betaine "supplementation" has however been found to increase blood LDL cholesterol and triglyceride concentrations in healthy humans, which may undo the potential benefits for cardiovascular health of betaine supplementation through homocysteine lowering.
Beetroot contains the bioactive agent betaine, which supports healthy liver function. When the liver is functioning properly, fats are broken down efficiently, aiding weight loss, and preventing fatigue and nausea.
Preliminary tests suggest that beetroot ingestion can be one of the useful means to prevent lung and skin cancer. Other studies have shown that beet juice inhibits the formation of cancer causing compounds called nitrosamines.
* Glycemic Index of Beetroot
In a study to determine the estimated GI of various foods, it was concluded that beetroot has a medium GI of 64.
Beets contain significant amounts of vitamin C in the roots, and the tops are an excellent source of vitamin A. They are also high in folate, as well as soluble and insoluble dietary fiber and several antioxidants.
Beetroot is among the sweetest of vegetables, containing more sugar even than carrots or sweet corn. The content in beetroot is no more than 10%, in the sugar beet it is typically 15 to 20%. The characteristic "earthy" taste of a beet comes from the presence of the chemical compound geosmin. It is unknown whether beets produce geosmin themselves, or whether it is produced by symbiotic soil microbes living in the plant.
An average sized cup (250 ml) of sliced beets will contain:
* Food energy 31 cal (130 kJ)
* Carbohydrate 8.5 g
* Dietary fiber 1.5 g
* Folate 53.2 g
* Phosphorus 32 mg
* Potassium 259 mg
* Protein 1.5 g