The weather is warming up down-under and I’ve just planted my beetroot. I’ve not been very successful with growing strawberries over the years, however, a punnet of delicious New Zealand grown RubyGem strawberries won’t be far away either. In the meantime, when I make this delicious Beetroot and Strawberry Gazpacho, I just use a cup of frozen strawberries instead.
Beetroot is back on my menu these days and although it doesn’t find favour with the family, I ignore them and focus on what my ageing blood vessels need and that is both beetroot and strawberries. Both these foods are anti-angiogenic.
Angiogenesis is a term given to the formation of new blood vessels. This process involves the migration, growth, and differentiation of endothelial cells, which line the inside wall of blood vessels. The process of angiogenesis is controlled by chemical signals in the body, including hormones.
As we age however, we don’t want too much angiogenesis occurring as this also promotes the abnormal growth of cells such as seen in cancer. From the work of researchers at the Angiogenesis Foundation in the USA, it is reported that angiogenesis is seen to be a common denominator of lifestyle diseases such as cardiovascular disease and cancer.
As I developed the My Menopause Transformation programmes, I had been undertaking my doctoral studies on women’s health and ageing and the role of exercise. As such, I was aware of the incredible change in health risk as women move from menopause into post-menopause, when periods have ended for a year or more. The risk of cardiovascular disease and associated skeletal muscle blood vessel pressure changes is enhanced in women after menopause as elasticity is lost in blood vessels and the epithelial lining thickens, yet knowledge about the angiogenic potential in ageing women is generally sparse. [Olsen, Hoier & Hansen, 2020].
The academic literature is replete with information about women’s changing cardiovascular health in post-menopause, yet not enough information about lifestyle change is being shared with women during menopause, in order to prevent this life-changing disease as they move into post-menopause.
Hence, when I learnt about angiogenesis and the work of Dr William Li in America and others, who have dedicated their careers to improving global health through exploring angiogenesis, it made sense to then look at the foods which help to protect our blood vessels as we age. Especially as a new study released by the Angiogenesis Foundation reports the link between Covid-19 and damage to blood vessel walls. This is important information for women in menopause and post-menopause who might still be experiencing long-covid symptoms.
Both beetroot and strawberries are two of the foods that are therefore, anti-angiogenic. That’s why I love this recipe as you can bring these foods together in this beautiful Beetroot and Strawberry Gazpacho.
The modification of food intake during menopause helps to set us up for our healthy ageing years ahead. I know myself that as women, we tend not to out our own nutritional needs first, however, when we do, we have so much more energy to get through our day.
Gazpacho or Gaspacho, is a cold soup and drink made of raw, blended vegetables. With the addition of strawberries to this soup, it makes it heart healthy too. Strawberries are high in a compound called Ellagic acid, which is a potent anti-angiogenic compound. Ellagic acid is high in the Rubygem strawberry variety which is known and grown here in New Zealand.
So, whether the family want to try this delicious cold (or hot) gsazpacho soup as the seasons change, or not, I hope that you can enjoy it, knowing that your blood vessels are getting a beneficial boost in reducing the development of inflammation and angiogenesis.
The MyMT™ Kitchen: Beetroot and Strawberry Gazpacho
4 medium size beets
- 1 cup (250g) of strawberries
- 1 red onion, finely diced, leave ¼ for garnish
- 1–2 garlic cloves
- 2 medium cucumbers, leave a bit for garnish
- 1/2 cup fresh dill, leave half for garnish
- 2 tbsp sherry vinegar, plus more to taste
- Salt and pepper to taste
Garnishes- pomegranates (optional) OR diced beets, cucumber, finely diced onion, chopped dill, olive oil or yogurt.
- Place beets in a medium pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Turn heat down to low and simmer until fork tender all the way through, about 60-90 minutes. Rinse with cold water.
2. Once beets are cold, slip off their skins using your hands. Slice and place 3 of the 4 beets (saving one) in a blender with 2 cups cold water. Add the strawberries, ¾ of chopped onion, 2 garlic cloves, the sliced cucumbers, salt, pepper, vinegar and about ⅔ of the fresh dill (saving some for garnish). Blend until very smooth. You may need to do it in batches Taste and adjust salt and vinegar. Place in the refrigerator for two hours or more.
3. Finely dice the remaining beet, onion, cucumber and dill. Pour Gazpacho (the colder it is, the better) into bowls. Top with the garnishes. Drizzle with a little olive oil or a swirl of yogurt if you like.
[NB: Recipe sourced from my daughter Georgia, who had this delicious soup at a wedding she attended recently in Portugal. When she told me about it, I knew I had to make it and share it with you too.]
Please don’t forget that this is the final week of my September Circuit Breaker SALE for women who are leaner and thinner. Every year in Spring and as part of my theme of ‘Menopause isn’t just about hot flushes’, I take NZ$100 off the cost of this powerful programme. I hope you can join me. You can read about it HERE.
Dr Wendy Sweet (PhD)/ MyMT™ Founder/ Member: Australasian Society of Lifestyle Medicine