Beet was looked upon by the Romans as being good for cooling the blood. Beet root is also found to benefit against feverish conditions, especially in growing children. Later generations found that beet root was also beneficial for a very strong specific action to regulate the digestive system.
The Doctrine of Signatures, which suggests that every plant illustrates its medical purpose, supposed that beet, because of its redness, was good for the blood. In fact the iron content is not particularly high, although it is said to be present in a form that is easy to assimilate.
The whole beet family (remember sugar beet) is rich in easily digested carbohydrates, even so the calorie content is not high. The red beetroot tends to concentrate rather than lose its mineral content when boiled for two hours, but the vitamins are generally reduced. Therefore when used therapeutically beetroot is usually juiced raw. Beet root juice taste has a stimulating effect not only upon the nerves of the tongue but also on the nerves in the intestines.
In Germany there is widespread use of beet juice, which is available in pasteurized form in bottles, as a powerful restorative during convalescence. It follows that beets are also good for general weakness and debility of all sorts. In combination with other juices, especially carrot and cucumber, beet juice is not only a splendid blood builder but also one of the finest therapies for sexual weakness, kidney stones, gall bladder, kidney, liver and prostate troubles.
Beet juice still remains a potent force the secrets of which are far from being unlocked. It is, after carrot, one of the chief juices in the science of natural healing as practiced on earth. The chlorine present in beet juice acts to regulate digestion by controlling the peristalsis, or natural rhythmical contractions of the gut and, because of this, the assimilation of food during the time of recovery is much assisted.
Uncooked beets keep rather better than many vegetables. If you cook beets it is important to avoid damaging or cutting the skin. If this happens the red color will leach out into the cooking water leaving the cook with a very pale beet of unattractive appearance. If the skin is accidentally damaged the leakage of color will be very much reduced if you add a few drops of lemon juice or cider vinegar to the water.
The dark green beet tops should not be discarded because they are rich in carotene and in minerals. They may be juiced in small quantities as an addition to other juices, whilst steamed they make a good and cheap alternative to spinach.