The beetroot, also known as the table beet, garden beet, red beet or informally simply as beet, is one of the many cultivated varieties of beets (Beta vulgaris) and arguably the most commonly encountered variety in North America and Britain.
The usually deep-red roots of beetroot are eaten boiled either as a cooked vegetable, or cold as a salad after cooking and adding oil and vinegar, or raw and shredded, either alone or combined with any salad vegetable. A large proportion of the commercial production is processed into boiled and sterilised beets or into pickles. In Eastern Europe beet soup, such as cold borscht, is a popular dish. Yellow-coloured beetroots are grown on a very small scale for home consumption.
The green leafy portion of the beet is also edible. It is most commonly served boiled or steamed, in which case it has a taste and texture similar to spinach.
Other studies have found the positive effects beetroot juice can have on human exercise and performances. In studies conducted by the Exeter University, scientists found cyclists who drank a half-litre of beetroot juice several hours before setting off were able to ride up to 20 per cent longer than those who drank a placebo blackcurrant juice.
As a dye
Betanin is not broken down in the body, and in higher concentration can temporarily cause urine (termed beeturia) and stool to assume a reddish color. This effect can cause distress and concern due to the visual similarity to bloody stools or urine, but is completely harmless and will subside once the food is out of the system.