Beets, known in the botanical world as beta vulgaris, have been enjoyed for centuries for their sweet flavor and believed curative properties. Beets were first domesticated in the Mediterranean and the Middle East, however only for the greens. Beet root enjoyed tremendous popularity in Roman times, with recipes documenting the use of the root as a salad. Beets were believed to hold medicinal properties and were more often than not used to cure a wide range of ailments, including intestinal issues, fevers and skin problems. Beets are rich in folate and iron, and have been shown in research trials to reduce blood pressure due to their high concentration of nitrates. Beets are excellent raw or cooked. They form the base of the classic borscht soup, and carry flavors such as dressings and vinaigrettes exceedingly well. Steamed, chilled and sliced, they make an excellent cold salad, or they may be pickled with eggs, Pennsylvania Dutch-style. Chioggia beets are striped, and can be found in vibrant red-and-white or subtle orange and pale yellow varieties. The striping tends to fade with cooking, and they will be slightly less sweet than their red brethren.