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Beetroot, also more commonly known as beets, is the taproot portion of the plant that originated in the Middle East. It has now spread all over the world and is famed for its vibrant red coloring.
Beetroot is being studied for its numerous health benefits and potential as a functional food.
Nutritional Composition of Beetroot
Just 100 g of beetroot contains 44 calories, 10 g of carbohydrates, 2 g of fiber, and 2 g of protein.
It is also rich in vitamins C (3.6 mg) and folate (80 mcg) along with minerals including potassium (305 mg) and phosphorus (38 mg). It is also abundant in flavonoids and polyphenolic compounds. (1)
Beetroot is a great source of betalains such as betacyanins and betaxanthins, which are sold commercially as powders, dyes, and other concentrated forms. It is also abundant in inorganic compounds including nitric acid and oxalic acid. (1)
Health Benefits of Beetroot
Take a look at some of the health benefits that can be attributed to beetroot.
1. Helps in the management of blood pressure
The nitrates in beetroot can help in the regulation of blood pressure. In addition, the betalains, flavonoids, and polyphenols in beetroot can also influence the pressure against the walls of the blood vessels by relaxing the muscles. (2)
A review of multiple studies found that consumption of beetroot juice reduced systolic blood pressure. (2) A 2019 study also found that drinking beetroot juice reduced both systolic and diastolic blood pressure in older adults. (3)
Beetroot juice can be an effective adjunct in the treatment of high blood pressure and resulting heart diseases.
2. Improves stamina and performance in sports
Various supplements claim to improve athletic performance and stamina. Beetroot is a natural food that has been reported to improve performance in sports.
The nitric acid in beetroot acts as a messenger and transports glucose, oxygen, and other nutrients to the cells. The polyphenols in beetroot also improve post-exercise oxidative stress. (4)
In a study of 12 men who regularly exercised, consumption of nitric acid-rich beetroot juice improved resistance training performance. (5)
3. Maintains a healthy digestive system
The bioactive compounds in beetroot, including pectic-oligosaccharides (a type of sugar), betalains, and polyphenols, have been reported to exert a beneficial impact on gut microorganisms. Their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties are also beneficial in improving overall health. (6)
The dietary fiber in beetroot also improves the diversity and activity of gut microorganisms. It adds bulk to the stool and eases the symptoms of constipation. (7)
4. Keeps the brain healthy
Beetroot, through its nitric acid content, has a positive impact on the aging brain by improving blood flow to the organ. (8)
In one study, men aged around 65 years who consumed beetroot juice showed a brain network that was similar to that of younger individuals. (8)
In a recent study, consumption of a phenolic-rich beverage that contained beetroot significantly improved the cognitive function, blood flow to the brain, and mood of healthy adults. (9) Though the drink contained other ingredients, the primary role of polyphenols cannot be ignored.
5. Aids in weight management
6. Acts as a strong antioxidant
Betalains in beetroot have been reported to have a stronger antioxidant capacity than anthocyanins. (11)
Antioxidants have been known to have antitumor capacity in addition to reducing the oxidative damage caused by diabetes, high blood pressure, and increased cholesterol levels. (11)
7. May protect against anemia
Anemia is characterized by a reduced level of hemoglobin, which lowers its oxygen-carrying capacity. It is a major health problem affecting women and children. It also affects about 41% of pregnant women globally. (12)
Consumption of beetroot and its juice has been reported to increase total hemoglobin levels. The nitric acid in this vegetable also improves the oxygen-carrying capacity of hemoglobin, whereas folate in beetroot reduces the risk of birth defects. (12)
8. Promotes hair health
Its rich antioxidant and mineral content can also repair hair damage caused by oxidative damage and stress. Thus, it reduces hair loss by promoting the health of the hair follicles. (15)
9. May offer protection against cancer
Arab, Chinese, and Ayurvedic medicinal systems use beetroot to manage the growth of cancer cells. (13)
The betalains in beetroot along with the polyphenols and flavonoids are beneficial in preventing the multiplication and growth of cancer cells. (13)
Some test-tube studies have also demonstrated beetroot to be a promising cancer-preventative agent. (13) However, this claim needs further research that includes human trials.
How to Consume Beetroot
Beetroot can be eaten steamed, boiled, mixed into salads, or as a side dish. Eating one beetroot each day or drinking one 250 ml glass of beet juice can ensure you gain all of its health benefits.
Precautions to Consider
Like all foods, beetroot should be eaten in moderation. Excessive consumption can lead to a slight pink hue in the urine due to the accumulation of beetroot pigment in the body.
Whenever possible, it is advisable to eat beetroot instead of juicing it as the latter removes the beneficial fiber in the vegetable. Moreover, beet supplements have no FDA approval, so you must always consult your doctor before taking them.
Most-Asked Questions About Beetroot
When should I not eat beetroot?
People suffering from kidney or gallbladder stones must avoid eating beetroot. The oxalate content in beetroot is quite high and can increase the problems of stones.
People with allergies and people with uncontrolled diabetes should also avoid beetroot.
Is beetroot good during pregnancy?
Beetroot is a good source of folic acid. Daily consumption of one beetroot can prevent birth defects related to folate deficiency. It can also improve hemoglobin levels and blood flow.
Can I consume beetroot juice every day?
It is safe to consume around 250 ml of beetroot juice every day. The nitrates in beetroot juice can lower blood pressure in people with hypertension.
Does beetroot help with skin health?
Beetroot is swiftly gaining popularity as a functional food. It is rich in polyphenols, flavonoids, and nitrates, and these compounds have many known and well-researched health benefits.
Beetroot can lower blood pressure, improve energy efficiency in athletes, improve blood flow, and reduce the risk of cancer. There are no known side effects to daily consumption of beetroot, except for people with kidney and gall bladder stones.
Also, it is recommended not to overconsume beetroot, much like any natural food.