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Nitrate content of beetroot juice lowers blood pressure

Researchers at the Queen Mary University of London and UCL have published a study that found that the high nitrate content of beetroot causes blood vessels to dilate, lowering blood pressure. Healthy volunteers who were given beetroot juice or nitrate tablets had their blood pressure reduced within 24 hours.

Beetroot is a good source of fibre, potassium, manganese, iron, calcium and vitamin C. It also acts as a liver cleanser and has powerful antioxidant properties for cancer protection. Beetroot can be juiced with any fruits and vegetables, but works particularly well with orange, carrot, apple or cucumber.

Why not try these recipes to add a little beetroot to your diet?

Borscht

500gm Raw Beetroot – raw, peeled and chopped

2 tbsp olive oil

1 onion, peeled and finely chopped

2 celery sticks, trimmed and finely chopped

1 large carrot, peeled and finely chopped

1 thyme sprig, leaves stripped

sea salt and black pepper

1/4 red cabbage

800 ml vegetable stock or water

1 tbsp red wine vinegar to taste

1 tsp xylitol or caster sugar

A handful of dill, chopped

4 tbsp natural yogurt to serve

1.       Heat the olive oil in a large pan and add the onion, celery, carrot, thyme leaves and seasoning. Cook over a medium heat, stirring frequently, for 8-10 minutes.

2.       Add the beetroot and cabbage with a splash of water. Stir, cover and cook for 10-12 minutes until the vegetables are just tender. Stir a few times to prevent the vegetables from catching and burning on the bottom of the pan.

3.       Pour in the stock or water to cover the vegetables. Add the vinegar, bring to the boil and simmer for 5-10 minutes until the vegetables are soft. Skim off any froth and adjust the seasoning to taste with salt, pepper and xylitol or sugar.

4.       Puree the soup if desired and serve with chopped dill and a dollop of yogurt.

Beetroot, carrot and chicory salad

3 heads of chicory

2 medium carrots

250g cooked beetroot in natural juices

handful of lightly toasted hazelnuts

Dressing:

1 pomegranate

1 orange

2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

3-4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

sea salt and black pepper

1. Trim the chicory and shred the leaves into matchsticks. Peel the carrots and cut into ribbons using a vegetable peeler. Roughly cut the beetroot. Place these ingredients in a bowl.

2. Make the dressing by halving the pomegranate and scooping out the seeds into another bowl. Squeeze the juice of the orange into the bowl and add vinegar, olive oil and seasoning to taste. Blend until the pomegranate seeds are finely crushed and then sieve.  Spoon the dressing over the salad and scatter with lightly crushed toasted almonds.

Recipes taken from ‘Healthy Appetite’ by Gordon Ramsay