Beetroot makes a terrific addition to anyone’s diet, but it’s particularly beneficial for vegans and vegetarians who do not receive a source of haeme iron from animal products.
Beetroots, (as well as rocket in this salad), contain good levels of ‘non-haeme’ iron. Nature has very considerately packed them with vitamin C, necessary for the absorption of non-haeme iron. Not only that, beetroots (& rocket) are rich in folate, another nutrient required for the production of red blood cells. This makes them both superb options for women who experience heavy periods, women trying to conceive and pregnant women building extra red blood cells to oxygenate themselves and their baby.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, practitioners advocate the use of beetroot with carrot (raw, roasted or juiced) for regulating hormones levels during the menopause.
But beetroot doesn’t stop at just being ideal for women.
Beetroots are rich in betaine, as well as folate, which work synergistically to reduce toxic levels of homocysteine, a naturally occurring amino acid (protein) that can harm blood vessels. This makes them effective in helping to reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke and dementia. They’re also loaded with the electrolyte potassium, required for the ‘sodium/potassium pump’ to maintain healthy heart contraction. Not only that, beetroot also has the potential to lower blood pressure & improve circulation due to its natural nitrate content, which converts to nitric oxide in the body. Nitric oxide is a vasodilator, causing blood vessels to widen, enhancing blood flow in arteries (making them advantageous for athletes wanting to enhance exercise performance).
In fact, this beetroot salad is a real winner in terms of heart health due to its rocket content, rich in the electrolytes calcium and magnesium for heart muscle contraction, and walnuts, a good source of omega 3 fatty acids, shown to decrease triglycerides, lower blood pressure slightly, reduce blood clotting, decrease stroke and heart failure risk and reduce irregular heartbeats.
I recognize that this salad is a well established dish, but it’s so quick and easy to make, yet its nutritional value is so virtuous. Hopefully this post will inspire you to take action and whip one up for your lunch tomorrow…
Warning: The betacyanin in beetroots is messy stuff and can seriously stain your clothes and colour your urine and pretty shade of pink:)
On a positive note, the pigment makes an excellent non-carcinogenic red dye, should you want to decorate your daughter’s birthday cake with Barbie pink coloured icing.
Beetroot & goat’s cheese salad
Ingredients: (Serves 2)
4 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp wholegrain mustard
1 tbsp finely chopped dill
1 bag of rocket leaves
100g/4 medium sized beetroots, steamed, skinned and quartered or thinly sliced
50g soft goats’ cheese, sliced
1 handful of organic walnuts, broken in to pieces
Freshly ground sea salt and ground pepper
Place a teaspoon of mustard in an empty jam jar or similar container, add the oil, balsamic vinegar and dill, and stir or shake vigorously mix the dressing. Season with salt and pepper.
Place the rocket leaves on the plate or serving bowl, top with the beetroot, goat’s cheese and walnuts. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and toss to coat.
NB: You can make this salad a more robust main meal by adding 400g of cooked green or puy lentils.
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