Brighten your meals with beetroot

Monday July 13 2020

Beetroot juice is a go

Beetroot juice is a good source of minerals. PHOTO/INTERNET 

By Beatrice Nakibuuka

Beetroots are one of the popular vegetables that are recommended for people with low haemoglobin levels because it is known to increase blood levels. Beets are a very versatile vegetable that can be juiced, roasted, steamed or pickled.
According to Lydia Aisu Pedu, a nutritionist, both the leaves and root can be eaten. The leaves can be eaten just like any other green vegetables because they contain calcium, iron and vitamins A and C.

“They can be steamed lightly to retain their nutritional value. The purple root is sweet when raw and is a rich source of fibre, folate, potassium and manganese,” she says.

She recommends that good fresh beetroots should have their greens intact with no signs of rot. The beetroot should be firm, with a vibrant red-purple colour, not wrinkled or with a dull colour.
Checks blood pressure
Beets contain high amounts of folate, nitrates and betaine. These nutrients act as vasodilators and together help lower blood levels of homocysteine, which would otherwise increase the risk of heart disease by causing inflammation.

Amanda Twebaze, a nutritionist, says: “The blood pressure checking effect is more impactful with raw beets than when they are cooked, and they should be taken on a regular basis. When the pressure is low, it also helps to reduce the risk of heart attacks, heart failure and stroke.”
Increased blood levels
Slices of beetroots can be soaked in boiled water or blended into a smoothie to help increase the volume of blood in the body because they contain large amounts of folic acid (folate) and iron.

Aisu says: “It is important to note that nitrates are water-soluble. Therefore, avoid boiling beets to maximise the nitrate content in your meals. If you want to make beetroot juice and you do not have a blender, you can boil the water first and when you leave it to settle, cut the beets into slices and put them in the water and let it cool. Do not boil them with the water. They will lose colour.”
Improved digestion
Dietary fibre is an important component of a healthy diet. It has several benefits such as improving digestive health by feeding the good bacteria in the gut.

“The fibre contained in the beetroots helps keep the digestive system running smoothly, and will, therefore, help to combat constipation by allowing regular bowel movement,” says Twebaze.
Improved mental function
According to Aisu, with old age, mental and cognitive abilities decline due to a reduction in blood and oxygen supply to the brain. Since beets produce nitric acid, they increase the amount of blood flow throughout your body as well as the brain.

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Weight management
Beet greens boost eye health by reducing the risk of cataract and age-related macular degeneration. This is because they contain lutein, an antioxidant that is good for the eyes and phytochemicals that improve the functionality of nerves in the eyes.

Other benefits of beetroot according to Amanda Twebaze, a nutritionist, include fighting cancer and weight management since eating low-calorie content foods is essential in weight management. Beets contain some amounts of fibre, protein and low calories. These nutrients will help you keep satisfied for a longer time and will, therefore, help in your weight management efforts.

bnakibuuka@ug.nationmedia.com

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