Beetroot is one of the cultivated forms of Beta vulgaris. Other cultivars of Beta vulgaris include sugar beet, fodder beet used as forage for farm animals and the leaf beets including sea kale and chard.
The root is rich in antioxidants. It’s deep red/purple colour is due to the pigments known as betalains. Betanin is a natural food dye (E162) extracted from beetroots.
Feeding it may result in the rabbit or guinea pig producing red urine sue to an inability to breakdown the betanin.
Raw beetroot is a fattening but useful winter food for rabbits and guinea pigs in unheated accommodation.
The root itself contains 16mg calcium and 40 mg phosphorous and provides 4.9 mg vitamin C per 100mg.
Beet leaves contain 117mg calcium, 41mg phosphorous and provide 30mg vitamin C per 100gm.
Some varieties of beet leaves are grown in their own right as leaf vegetables and we have listed them under that section.
Although low in both minerals, beetroot root has a poor Ca:P ratio so care should be taken to ensure adequate calcium levels and a correct Ca:P ratio in the complete diet. Feeding the leaves with the root is a good way of balancing the calcium and phosphorous levels.
For the most complete information you could possible want on the history of beetroot, its uses, cultivars and beetroot recipes, check out Stephen Nottingham’s Beetroot Book