It contains potassium, magnesium, iron, vitamins A, B6 and C, folic acid, carbohydrates, protein, antioxidants and soluble fibre.
2010 UK researchers revealed that nitrate is the special ingredient in beetroot which can lowers blood pressure and may help to fight heart disease.
Beetroot juice increases blood flow to the brain in older people, which may be able to fight the progression of dementia.
A native of Southern Europe, beetroot has a vibrant crimson colour which comes from pigments no other vegetable has.
Originally the leaves were preferred eating, rather than the roots. In New Zealand, usually it is the roots that are eaten, however, young beetroot leaves are sometimes available. In some countries all parts of the beetroot are regularly eaten. Beetroot is frequently consumed pickled. Baby beetroot leaves may be found in salad mixes.
Several varieties are available with roots varying in shape from round to spherical. Flavour variations are very subtle. A golden beet variety exists but this is seldom seen commercially in New Zealand.
What to look for
Roots should be smooth with a firm skin and deep red colour. Avoid roots with scaly areas around the top surface as they tend to be tougher. If the leaves are still attached, they should not be floppy; they should be bright green with pink/red veins. Buy small quantities regularly to guarantee freshness.
All year but most plentiful November - April.
Store roots in the crisper of the refrigerator; it is not necessary to wrap them. Store young leaves in a plastic bag in the crisper.
How to prepare
Trim root end and scrub. Leave skin intact until cooked to prevent colour loss. Peel when cooked. For salads, use raw or cooked, grated or sliced. Peel, cut to size and roast; young beetroot may not need peeling. When boiling beetroot, do not break the skin or it will bleed and lose its colour. Before microwaving, pierce the skin or the beetroot may explode. The skin is easily removed once the beetroot is cooked. Wait until cool and rub the skin off.
Ways to eat
Beetroot roots can be eaten cooked, raw or juiced. Young leaves can be eaten like spinach – boiled, steamed, microwaved, stir fried or used raw in salads.
Boil, steam, microwave, roast.