Plants & People: Beta Vulgaris

Beta vulgaris (Family Amaranthaceae); commonly known as beetroot or beet, has been gaining popularity as a new super food over the years due to its multiple health benefits.

Typically a rich purple colour, beetroot can also be white or golden. Beetroot’s earthy charm is in its ubiquitous influence on fashionable menus and recipes. It’s delicious, distinctive flavour and nutritional statuses have escalated it to the root none can beat! It is low in fat, full of vitamins and minerals and packed with powerful antioxidants making it a health-food titan!

It can be eaten in salads and soups, roasted or steamed, pickled, taken as juice, or as dessert. The beet leaves are packed with important nutrients such as potassium, copper, magnesium, vitamin A, K, and C and can be cooked or blended to make juice too just like the roots. Beets are a valuable source of sucrose and as such, they are frequently used to make refined sugar in some countries.

Beets have myriad of health and nutritional benefits. It is a good remedy to regulate menstrual periods. It supplies the body with the necessary nutrients such as iron, vitamins, folic and calcium, which are very important for hormonal balance. Therefore, regular intake of beetroot can regulate periods effectively.

Beetroots have abundant dietary nitrates, which get converted into nitric oxide in the body – which is very important in relaxing and dilating the blood vessels thereby lowering the blood pressure and preventing hypertension. Red beetroots have a significant amount of iron, which is very important in preventing anemia and boosting the regeneration of red blood cells. Also, the immense quantity of vitamin C in beets greatly helps in boosting the body’s ability to absorb iron.

The presence of betaines and pectin substances in beetroots is very essential in that these substances play a vital role in detoxification (Cleansing) of the liver from toxins. Additionally, these substances also stimulate and constantly keep the liver healthy.

Regular intake of beetroot boost sendurance and stamina; improves athletic performance in runners, swimmers and cyclists. This is probably due to the fact that beetroot contains a significant amount of carbohydrates that provide energy for prolonged stamina draining activities. It also improves brain neuroplasticity (ability of the brain to change throughout an individual’s life) because of the abundant nitrates present in it.

Beetroot has been considered an aphrodisiac or sexual booster since time immemorial. In fact, the presence of the mineral boron in it is known to boost the production of sexual hormones hence boosting one’s libido with increased fertility and sperm mobility. Expectant mothers can reduce birth defects by regularly consuming beetroot. This is because it contains vitamin B folate which is important in the development of infants’ spinal column.

Beetroot regular intake is important for weight-loss. The magnesium and potassium in it help to detoxify the body and flush out excess water, preventing bloating which helps optimize metabolism and hence enable one to lose excess body weight. Being high in folate, beetroot help in the optimal functioning and repair of cells. This helps prevent premature aging and the abundant antioxidants and vitamin C in it enhances the natural glow on your skin! Beetroot juice with its pulp is full of fiber, which helps to regulate the digestive processes and also relieves constipation. In fact, a glass of beetroot juice is also a great home remedy for stomach upset.

Despite its immense health and nutritional benefits, few people have exploited the variant use of beetroot. However, due to the short time for it’s maturity (2-3 months), one can only hope that with time, more farmers take advantage of this priceless plant.

– R.K.

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