Updated: Nov 18, 2020
SPOTLIGHT ON BEETROOT
Beetroot has gained in popularity over recent years, becoming a favourite for many thanks to its deliciously sweet, rich flavour. Beetroot should be considered in any diet for its abundance of nutrients but it may also be a useful inclusion in a training plan thanks to its potential to increase oxygen flow around the body. Here we provide an overview of beetroot, the key nutrients and how you can include this vegetable in your diet.
What is beetroot?
Beetroot, also known as Beets, is a root vegetable and in the UK is predominantly grown on the Cambridgeshire Fenlands which provides the ideal sunlight, soil and moisture to develop the beetroot’s sweet taste. It is one of the most environmentally friendly crops as it seldom requires treatment with pesticides.
The key nutrients
Fibre – which helps to aid digestion.
Folate – a B vitamin which is used by the body to help make white and red blood cells and convert carbohydrate to energy.
Vitamin C – supports the immune system.
Nitrates – beetroot contains inorganic nitrates which, when combined with bacteria in our saliva and stomach, convert to nitric oxide – a compound in the body that relaxes blood vessels allowing more blood and oxygen to be delivered to the muscles.
Anti-oxidants – one anti-oxidant particularly present in beetroot is alpha-lipoic acid which has the potential to help lower glucose levels and increase insulin sensitivity.
How much do we need to eat?
As part of a regular diet, one portion of beetroot (one beetroot raw or cooked) 3-5 times per week is a good amount to help you benefit from the nutrients beetroot provides.
If you are looking to include beetroot in your training plan, consider including one portion of beetroot per day in the 3-4 days leading up to the race and then consuming one beetroot 30-45 minutes before you start the race – try grating and mixing with apple to make it more palatable if it’s an early morning race.
Beetroot dishes to help inspire your weekly intake:
Apple, beetroot and ginger juice
A great morning juice to get your day started. You may need a little extra sweetness to encourage the flavours so try coconut water to add some depth and honey to taste.
Grated beetroot and apple, walnut and goats cheese salad
A satisfying lunchtime salad or an evening side dish. Grate raw beetroot and mix together with grated apple, top with goats cheese and a sprinkle of crushed walnuts.
Roasted beetroot is a fantastic side dish. Its natural sweetness pairs well with chicken and white fish.