Beets, also known as known botanically as Beta vulgaris, are edible and medicinal root vegetables native to the Meddeteramian region of the world. Their species range from rich dark shades of reds, yellow, white, even candy-striped! Many complain that beets have an “earthy” taste, which isn’t far off the mark. Beets contain a substance called geosmin, which is responsible for that fresh soil scent in your garden following a spring rain. Humans are quite sensitive to geosmin, even in very low doses, which explains why our beet response ranges from one extreme to the other.
Mankind has been eating beet greens since before written history, but the bulb or root was only ever used for medicinal purposes until the rise of the Roman Empire, and only ever became internationally famous when french chefs began to appreciate the appeal of roasted beets in the 1800s. But medicine and food is only a small portion of the beetroots wide range of applications. Although ¾ of the world’s beet produce goes straight into canning and pickling, they provide many more helpful uses such as dyes, sugars, even makeup.
- Kingdom: Plantae
- Order: Caryophyllales
- Family: Amaranthaceae
- Genus: Beta
- Species: B. Vulgaris
- Binomial Name: Beta vulgaris
- Beets are also sensitive to soils deficient in boron. Have your soil tested or ask your county Extension agent about boron deficiencies in your area.
- The biggest beet in the world was grown by a Dutchman. It weighed over 156 pounds
- Beets have also been shown to support the detoxification process in the body. The betalain compound found in beets, which gives them their red color, helps to capture troublesome toxins and flush them out of the system via the urinary tract.
- Eating raw beets or drinking beet juice helps combat garlic breath
- Because beetroot juice helps cleanse the liver, it also helps reduce hangover symptoms.
- Beets have the highest sugar content of any vegetable
- As recently as the early 20th century, the phrase “taking favors in the beetroot fields” was a popular euphemism for prostitution.
- Beets can cause “beeturia”
- Geosmin: an organic compound with a distinct earthy flavor and aroma produced by certain bacteria, and is responsible for the earthy taste of beetroots and a contributor to the strong scent (petrichor) that occurs in the air when rain falls after a dry spell of weather or when soil is disturbed.
- Boron: a mineral that is found in food and the environment. Boron is used for building strong bones, treating osteoarthritis, as an aid for building muscles and increasing testosterone levels, and for improving thinking skills and muscle coordination.
- Betalain: a class of red and yellow indole-derived pigments found in plants of the Caryophyllales, where they replace anthocyanin pigments
- Beeturia: the passing of red or pink urine after eating beetroots or foods colored with beetroot extract or beetroot pigments. The color is caused by the excretion of betalain (betacyanin) pigments such as betanin.