Beetroots have a pretty long history. Their domestication dates back to the ancient periods of the Middle East. In those times, beets were revered for their impressive medicinal and culinary uses.
Fast forward today, it appears we’ve done a pretty good job at maintaining their useful applications.
Beets are consumed by a good number of people around the world, mostly by boiling or steaming, then peeling and eating warm with fats like butter. In some places however, they’re roasted, pickled, or boiled and grated over ground meat which is later purposed for tasty meatballs.
But that’s as far as cooking goes, one important question asked by the beetroot community is “can beetroots actually be eaten raw? Without any health consequences?
Here’s the fact of the matter.
Beetroot can be eaten raw and it’s completely safe to do so according to many health authorities. Beetroot packs a wealth of nutrition from essential minerals like calcium and zinc to vitamins such as Vitamin C and B6, and these nutrients can be reaped whenever the root vegetable is consumed in its raw form.
Beets can be eaten raw when sliced and served with a sprinkle of salt flakes, when added to vegetable salads to add a kick of earthiness and little bitterness or made into delicious smoothies alongside other ingredients like banana or pineapple.
Keep reading to discover the various ways that beets can be consumed raw!
Health benefits of eating raw beetroot
Eating beetroots raw has been linked to some important health benefits.
It is believed that beetroots are high in inorganic nitrates, and these inturn can help reduce blood pressure which would translate to a reduction in the overall levels of risks associated with heart disease and stroke.
Beetroots are also expected to help improve physical performance through the increase of plasma nitrate levels and also be a beneficial addition to any weighloss regimen because of their low calories and fat.
Through the folate in them, beets can help prevent pregnant women from giving birth to premature babies. This makes it a useful addition to the diets of any woman who is already within the ripe age for pregnancy.
Beetroots also contain phytonutrients that are expected to hep reduce cholesterol levels.
Which is better to cook or to eat raw beetroot?
The truth is, there really isnt a “best way of consuming beetroots”, as both eating them raw and subjecting them under heat has their own perks and drawbacks.
Here’s what i mean.
When you cook vegetables like beets, you definitely loose some amounts of vitamins in them through leaching. Those especially susceptible are the water soluble vitamins like Vitamin C and the B vitamins.
They’re highly unstable under heat application and will be lost through leaching, to the heat and also through other chemical processes going on while cooking.
At the end of the day, a substantial amount will be gone, and if you started out with very low levels to begin with; beetroots provide mostly less than 10% of the daily recommened value of all water soluble vitamins in a 100g serving, then you’re really loosing some nutrients by cooking them.
Sometimes, it isnt even about nutrients being lost, but about the decrement in the beneficial capacity of some of these nutrients.
Take betacyanin for example, one study in 2012 showed that cooking beetroots reduced the antioxidant capcity of this compound by around 7 percent.
But then, comes another thing to consider. Even with these nutrients present in raw beetroots, you’re not guaranteed to be assmiliating all of them when you consume the roots raw.
That’s because regular chewing and grinding might not be sufficient enough to release some of these nutrients and vitamins from their cell walls, and you might pass them off intact in their cells as feaces instead of reaping the nutrients!
Heating them on the other hand, breaks down the cell walls and makes the nutrients encapsulated in the cells easy to assimilate into the body!
So in the end, the best way to consume any vegetable is to incorporate both the raw and cooked variant into your diet! That way, you’re effectively bridging the gap that may occure from sticking to only one type of beet preparation only.
How to eat beetroot raw
Add to salad:
One of the best ways to incorporate raw beetroot to your diet is through salads.
Wash the roots properly under running water and peel off the roots. Then slice them into thin strips or run them on a box grater to grate them. Add them to the salad mix and combine well.
Slice and eat them as they are
The very basic way to eat beetroots is as they are. Wash the roots properly and peel off the back. Then wash again to release the dirt and sand that hid in services and holes on the peels. Cut into thin strips and serve.
Make beetroot juice:
Another way to consume beets raw is to make beet juice. Now you can choose to use beets alone or combine with other ingredients like cucumber, pineapple, bananas and apples.
Make beetroot smoothie:
Beet smoothie is one fantastic way to make sure you’re getting all the benefits of the beetroot, raw! Many different variations exist on how to make beet smoothie, but one that stands out for me is this one:
- One cup condensed milk
- Half glass of milk
- Beets (peeled and halved).
Add everything to the blender and pulse until everything is mixed. Add some ice into the mix and pulse again until the smoothing turns cold. Pour into a glass cup and enjoy!
Can you eat beetroot greens and stalks?
Beetroot greens are perfectly edible just like the roots. They’re nutritious and would make a great addition to your salads, or plate of raw green roots.
For the much larger leaves, boil them down and add to soups or stews.
Beetroots can be eaten raw. They can be sliced and added to salads for an extra crunch or eaten as they are. They can also be made into smoothies or blended with other ingredients to form beetroot juice.