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Beetroot, Feta and Walnut Burgers

We all know that beetroot is good for us and to enjoy eating a rainbow of colour for optimal health. But do you know why beets are so good for us?

Beetroot has a molecular compound know as betaine or trimethylglycine which, structurally, is the amino acid Glycine with three methyl groups attached to it. Molecules with methyl groups are known as methyl donors and are essential for a biochemical process known as methylation.

Methylation is an astounding process taking place 24/7 in every cell of the body. So basically, methylation is like a cellular switch, switching off and on biochemical reactions. These include regulating responses to stress, activity and expression of genes, ability to detoxify our body of toxins, immune function, hormonal balance and DNA replication.

Methylation is the switch the body uses to help direct a baby’s development in the womb, so that the organs and tissue form properly and at the right time.Methylation is so important that its actions in the womb or early life can lead to permanent, lifelong changes, changes that can even be passed down to the next generation.

When methylation is slowed we can have trouble suppressing viruses, processing toxins in the liver, controlling inflammation and oxidation, and generating sufficient neurotransmitters in the brain.

What Common Conditions Can Be Impacted by Poor Methylation?

Abnormalities in methylation have been found in a whole range of conditions, from Alzheimer’s Disease to cardiovascular disease to autoimmune illnesses such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. Poor methylation can also affect our neurotransmitters, chemicals in the brain , leading to mood changes and depression. Both folate and Vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to depression and dementia, most likely through a defect in methylation processes or genetic aberrations.

What can I do to improve Methylation?

It was through taking a Methylation Blood and DNA Panel that I found out that I am a poor methylator, but as is the general consensus in the field of genetics and nutrigenomics, genes load the gun but the environment or lifestyle pull the trigger. Just because my genes tell me that I am a poor methylator does not mean that I will express any of the conditions mentioned above. What they do give me is the power to enable me to lead a lifestyle to prevent or avoid these conditions.

Ensuring that I eat foods containing betaine, magnesium and all the B vitamins in their methylated forms is one step. However, I also need a targeted supplement for methylation as I have an extra need for them. There are other co-factors needed for proper methylation and this is where testing can help with discovering your nutritional gaps.

Of course, ensuring that my liver and gut are in good health too is important as much of methylation occurs in the liver, and a healthy gut will mean better absorption of nutrients.

One of our mantras as nutritionists is 'Test, don't guess'..over supplementing, when not needed may have negative consequences. Nutritional therapists have access to a fantastic range of tests and their interpretation, not available to GPs or other healthcare providers.



  1. I used organic beetroots from the garden and gave them a good scrub so there is no need to peel. Grate in the food processor if you have one, if not a normal grater will do.

  2. Gently heat the oil in a large pan, add the grated beetroot and onion powder and cook for a couple of minutes. Set aside to cool.

  3. Grate the parmesan, crumble the feta and pop into a medium bowl.

  4. Lightly toast the walnuts and pistachios in a small pan. Add to the medium bowl with the cheeses.

  5. Now add in the rest of the ingredients to the medium bowl and using your hands combine all the ingredients until well combined. Season with salt and pepper.

With about a palm sized ball of the mixture shape into burger sized patties. (If they are too wet add a little flour or if too dry add some more egg).

The burgers can be cooked in the oven on a lined baking tray for about 25 minutes at 180°C or dry fried on a frying pan for about 5 minutes each side.

Serve with hummus on top with some extra chopped herbs and a side of veggies, salad or roast new potatoes.

SOURCES This recipe is adapted from an original by 'The Happy Pear' in the cookbook of the same name. Thank you.


Patricia Alexander-Bird Dip NT, BANT, CNHC

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