You can’t beat beetroot!

Charlotte Johnston, Community Dietitian

A recent study in the United States has found that eating whole beetroot can improve your running performance. It has been known for a long time that consuming nitrate can improve how you perform in exercise, but that taking nitrate in food form is the best way to take it. This study in the US noted that men who ate whole baked beetroot ran faster, and felt that they weren’t exerting themselves as hard, as those men that did not eat beetroot. So, if you are training for that marathon, the local 5Km run or indeed are planning to do the mini marathon, why not make beetroot part of your eating plan.

But, what if running isn’t your thing but you are a beetroot fan, what else has been learned about this humble vegetable? Well it has been proven to be good for the heart in many ways. Research has shown that the nitrate in beetroot helps to lower blood pressure. Betacyanin, the ingredient in beetroot which gives it such a lovely strong colour, is also a powerful antioxidant; the components that have been found to help in the fight against heart disease. Beetroot also contain flavanoids, carotenoids and soluble fibre all of which are beneficial in their effect on cholesterol.

Interestingly research has also show that the nitrate in beetroot may help to slow the progression of dementia, as it increases the flow of blood to the brain. Finally, if all those health benefits weren’t enough of a reason to pop to the shops to stock up on beetroot, don’t forget they are virtually fat free and are low in calories too.

Try this roast beetroot recipe to top up on all the good things beetroot has to offer.

Roast beetroot

Ingredients

Six unpeeled beets

Three medium unpeeled red onions

Four unpeeled whole garlic cloves

Sprigs of thyme

Four tbsp olive oil / rapeseed oil

For the glaze

Chicken stock, two tbsp balsamic vinegar, a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

Preheat the oven to 180C/360F/Gas 4.

Put the beetroot, red onions, garlic, sprigs of thyme & oil into a medium-sized roasting tray making sure that the vegetables are well coated in oil.

Roast for 1 ½ hours, until the beetroot feels tender. Peel and slice the cooked vegetables and put to one side.

To make the glaze, place the roasting tray on a medium hob flame & deglaze by adding approx. Two tablespoons of chicken stock, the balsamic vinegar and a teaspoon of chopped thyme. Bring this to the boil making sure to stir until the liquid has reduced to a syrupy consistency. Season.

Arrange the beetroot, red onions and garlic neatly on a warmed serving dish and cover in the glaze. Serve immediately.

For more information or for more information on diet and nutrition, please contact:

The Community Nutrition and Dietetic Service, HSE Dublin-Mid Leinster Tel: (044 ) 9395518 or email [email protected].

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