|Beetroots, New Veggie #55|
Beets or Beetroots are deep red-purple colored roots of the beet plant. It belongs to the same family as Swiss Chard and Sugar beet. While the purple variety is most common, beets are also available in golden yellow and red-and-white striped varieties.
In the US, beets are most often eaten pickled, or boiled in cold salads. The consumption of beets causes pink urine in some people. Beetroot juice has been found to improve performance in athletes, possibly because of its abundance of nitrites.
Ancient Romans also used beetroot as a treatment for fevers and constipation (note: they also considered it an aphrodisiac ... strange!). In the Middle Ages, beetroot was used as a treatment for a variety of conditions, especially illnesses relating to digestion and the blood. Platina recommended taking beetroot with garlic to nullify the effects of 'garlic-breath'.
The purple pigment, betacyanin, has been shown to have antioxidative properties. Like other members of this family of vegetables, all parts of the beet plant contain oxalic acid which have been implicated in the formation of kidney stones in certain populations of people; cooking the beets usually reduces the risk. Beets have a distinctive earthy flavor that is enhanced by roasting. Apparently beets are more flavorful and colorful if you leave the peel and some of the stem on while cooking. The peel apparently comes off easily once the beets cool (mine did not peel, maybe because the scrubbing I gave them made the peel really thin).