The rich crimson-colored beet with its exceptional nutritional value has been gaining popularity as a new superfood. Beetroot can dominate and bring richness to any dish with its vibrant hue and earthy flavor. Beetroots are an excellent source of folic acid and a very good source of protein, fiber, iron, manganese, and potassium. Its leaves are also edible and are rich in calcium, iron, and vitamins A and C.
Some of the health benefits of beetroot include:
Heart health and blood pressure: A study published in Hypertension found that beetroot juice significantly lowered blood pressure. Researchers hypothesized this was likely due to the high nitrate levels contained in beet juice.
Dementia: Researchers at Wake Forest University have found that drinking juice from beetroot can improve oxygenation to the brain, slowing the progression of dementia in older adults. According to Daniel Kim-Shapiro, director of Wake Forest’s Translational Science Center, blood flow to certain areas of the brain decrease with age and leads to a decline in cognition and possible dementia. Consuming beetroot juice as part of a high nitrate diet can improve the blood flow and oxygenation to these areas that are lacking.
Diabetes: Beets contain an antioxidant known as alpha-lipoic acid, which may help lower glucose levels, increase insulin sensitivity and prevent oxidative stress-induced changes in patients with diabetes.
Digestion and regularity: Because of its high fiber content, beetroot helps to prevent constipation and promote regularity for a healthy digestive tract.
Inflammation: Choline is a very important and versatile nutrient in beetroot that helps with sleep, muscle movement, learning, and memory. Choline also helps to maintain the structure of cellular membranes, aids in the transmission of nerve impulses, assists in the absorption of fat and reduces chronic inflammation.
Exercise and athletic performance: Beetroot juice supplementation has been shown to improve muscle oxygenation during exercise, suggesting that increased dietary nitrate intake has the potential to enhance exercise tolerance during long-term endurance exercise.
Obesity: Beets can help lose weight since they are low in calories and high in fiber.
Healthy skin and hair: With loads of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, it shouldn’t be surprising that beets help improve your skin and hair.
All these health benefits being said, there is a disclaimer: this recipe calls for some deep-frying in which some of the nutrients may be lost. Though delicious, try to make this recipe part of a cheat-day meal or on occasions like parties or get-togethers. It’s easily a crowd-pleaser. The lentils with its rich protein content add to the nutritional value of the recipe while acting as a binding agent. That eliminates egg (usually used as the binding agent) and makes this a perfect vegan recipe. Another delicious recipe with lentils to try is Boiled spinach with lentils.
- Moong lentils (moong dal) – 1 cup
- ginger – 1-inch piece, chopped
- serrano chili – 1, chopped
- beetroot – 1, peeled and grated
- onion – 1, finely chopped
- curry leaves – about 10 leaves, finely chopped
- cumin seeds – 2 teaspoons
- oil for frying – 1 cup
- Wash and soak the moong lentils for one hour.
- Drain the water completely using a strainer.
- Place the lentils, ginger, chili, and salt in a blender and blend/ pulse to a coarse paste.
- Take care not to make the mixture smooth. You should still be able to see broken halves of the lentils.
- Transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl and add the grated beetroot, onions, curry leaves and cumin seeds. Mix well.
- Heat the oil in a deep pan or wok.
- Take lime-sized balls of the mixture, flatten them into patties and fry until golden brown with a reddish tint.
- The moong lentils can be replaced with split chickpeas (chana dal).
- Water should be completely drained from the soaked lentils, else you won’t get the right texture.
- These beetroot-lentil wonders can also be shaped into small balls to keep the kids happy. (They’ll love to pop the whole thing into their mouths!)
- Add a teaspoon each of wheat germ and flaxseed meal for extra texture and nutrition (omega-3, fiber, vitamins and minerals).