Apr 212011

[Photo-Beet Roots]

Ingredient Name: Beet Root.  Also called Garden Beet.

Ingredient Name in Chinese: 紅菜頭 (Hóng cài tóu).  Also called 紅甜菜 (Hóng tián cài)


  • Beet is a deep purple-red root of a plant specie that is related to leafy vegetables like chard.
  • Some varieties of beet have an orange-yellow root.
  • Beets were domesticated by the Mediterraneans and later spread to China and other Asian countries as early as 850 AD.
  • Has a very sweet taste and often cultivated as a commercial crop to make table sugar.
  • Beet’s deep red color comes from its family of Betalain pigments.  One such pigment, betanin, is often used to make red food colorant.

Beet Root Uses and Health Benefits:

  • Two well-studied photonutrients from beets (betanin and vulgaxanthin) have been shown to provide antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and detoxification support.
  • Recent lab studies showed betanin from beets lessened tumor cell growth by inhibiting pro-inflammatory enzymes.
  • Betalin pigments in beets have been shown to support detoxification processes by enabling cells to hook toxins up, neutralize them, and make them water-soluble for excretion through urine.
  • Consumption of beet root can cause pink urine (also called Beeturia) in 10 – 15% of the population.  This occurs when the beet’s red pigment passes through the body undigested in the stomach or colon.  It is said that Beeturia is more common among those with iron deficiency or problems absorbing iron.
  • Avoid over-cooking beets as the beneficial betalains dissipates with cooking time.
  • Beet greens are edible although they have a good amount of oxalic acid that can crystalize into oxalate stones in the urinary tract when high in concentration.


  • Cut off the beet greens, leaving about 1″ of the stems on the top of the root to prevent beet juice from bleeding out.
  • Using your hands, rub and wash the beet root in cool water.  A soft brush can also be used to remove sand, dust, and soil while being careful not to tear the skin.
  • Rinse hands quickly after being in contact with beet juice as it can stain your skin.
  • Since nutrients dissipate with cooking time, it is best to cook beets with the skin on.
  • Beets are often steamed or baked.  See also a list of soup recipes using beet roots.

Where to Buy:

  • Beets are available at most supermarkets. 

How do you use your Beet Root? Leave a comment below and share your ideas.

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Resources: Wikipedia, WHFoods

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