WASHINGTON • Meet the beet. Fans of “The Office” may know it as the mainstay of Schrute Farms. Others may have casually tossed them into conversation, remarking that someone has turned “beet red” from embarrassment.
While the crimson-colored vegetable has deep roots in American culture and colloquialisms, it rarely seems to make it onto the plate where it belongs.
That’s because people just don’t understand the beet, said Catherine Champagne, a professor of dietary assessment and nutritional counseling at Louisiana State University’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge.
“You look at a beet and think, ‘What can it do for me?’ They actually have more benefits than you would think,” she said.
Beets, or beetroot, are low in calories and high in phytonutrients, healthy compounds produced by plants. That shouldn’t be a surprise given the vegetable’s hallmark deep red shade, Champagne said.
“The first thing that comes to mind when I look at a beet is the color,” she said. “The more color a vegetable or fruit has, the more phytonutrients it has. There’s a lot to be said for that color.”
Appreciation of the beet’s medicinal properties dates back to the ancient Romans, who used it to treat constipation, improve circulation, fight fevers and even considered it an aphrodisiac. But modern science has zeroed in on just what gives the beet its healing powers.
Beets are high in nitrates which research suggests improve cardiovascular health in several ways. Some studies show beetroot juice supplementation may lower blood pressure and increase blood flow. It increases oxygen uptake, lengthening the time it takes to become fatigued, which allows people to stay active longer.
Comments are open to Gazette subscribers only