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Superstar Beetroot!
Superstar Beetroot! Photo Zac Peatling

Superstar Beetroot!

Isa Du Toit Recipes

Beetroot is a superfood packed with nutrients. It contains iron, potassium, magnesium, calcium, iodine, zinc, vitamins A, B3,5,6 and Folic Acid, vitamin C, and is also a rich source of antioxidants and soluble fibre.

Beetroot can help to stimulate the liver’s detoxification process, help reduce blood pressure, lower the risk of heart attacks and strokes and help lower cholesterol. Beetroot contains silica, which helps the body utilize calcium (important for musco-skeletal health and reducing the risk of osteoporosis). Beetroot helps guard against fatigue, increases blood flow to the brain, and improves the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood, making circulation more effective.

Beetroot also provides easily digestible sugars, and it’s soluble fibre content slows down the absorption of these sugars, so providing the body with a steady stream of energy.

Beetroot is low in calories, virtually fat free; has a medium GI level (64) but extremely low GL level (2.9), which means it is converted into sugars very slowly, thus helping to keep blood sugar levels stable.

The colour of beetroot comes from the antioxidant betacyanin.

Sport: enhanced performance

Beetroot has high levels of nitrates, which produces nitric oxide in the blood, which in turn widens blood vessels and lowers blood pressure. Nitrates reduce oxygen consumption during exercise.

Studies carried out by sports science researchers into the effect of beetroot on performance have shown that the nitrates found in beetroot have a significant effect on stamina and sports performance. Most of the studies were carried out on cyclists or runners which makes the findings particularly important for endurance sport athletes.

Cooking beetroot the easy way

People often dismiss beetroot thinking it is difficult to cook - but here is an easy way to cook beetroot.

Make sure the beetroot are firm, smooth and brightly coloured.

Wash the beetroot under cold running water. Cut off the greens leaves and stems, leaving about an inch of the stems and the root ends intact. Don’t cut into the flesh as it will cause the beetroot to ‘bleed’, losing colour, flavour and nutrients.

Place in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil, cover the saucepan with a lid, turn down the heat and simmer on a low heat for 45 minutes. Turn the heat off, and leave the beetroot (with the lid on the saucepan) for an hour.

Drain the water. Cut the ends off the beetroot and ease the skins off with your fingers. There is no need to peel as the skin should just easily come away.

Enjoy delicious beetroot

Beetroot can be used in many ways - one of the simplest and most delicious is using cooked beetroot in salads or in sandwiches.

For sandwich fillings on slices of wholemeal bread, try tinned red salmon (or tuna) with mayonnaise topped with slices of beetroot; grated or sliced beetroot on bread with butter or mayonnaise; beetroot slices with ham or beef. Flaked smoked mackerel and diced beetroot with mayonnaise or horseradish on salad leaves make a filling and healthy salad; or replace the mackerel with haricot or kidney beans for a vegetarian option.

Beetroot juice is now also widely available - and if you don’t want to cook your own beetroot, ready cooked, vacuum packed or bottled beetroot without vinegar is a good alternative.

Beetroot Bread


  • 400g White bread flour
  • 100g Stoneground wholemeal flour
  • 1t salt
  • 1t golden granulated sugar
  • 10g yeast
  • 2T Virgin olive oil
  • 280ml warm water
  • 200/220g raw beetroot, freshly coarse grated


  1. Mix dry ingredients together. Add olive oil, then the beetroot. When well mixed slowly add the water. Knead for 10-12 minutes.
  2. Cover and leave for about 2 hours until doubled in size. (NB The dough is very sticky!)
  3. Fist out all the air, divide into 2 and place into rye floured proving baskets. (It is important to use proving baskets as the dough is very wet and will spread if making free-form loaves.) Leave for 45 minutes.
  4. Place on baking tray into pre-heated oven 200C fan for 10 minutes, turn the heat down to 180C for a further 35 minutes. Leave to cool on wire rack. 

For references and more information:
The Complete Superfoods Cookbook; Michael van Straten
The Top 10 Fitness Foods; Sarah Owen