Health Benefits of Beetroot

INTRODUCING THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF BEETROOT

The botanical name for beetroot is Beta vulgaris. Beetroot is a vegetable. It is also known by other names such as garden beet, red beet, or table beet.

Beetroot is loaded with nutrients such as potassium, vitamin C, iron, folate, fiber, manganese, and potassium.

Beetroots and its juice have many health benefits, such as regulation of blood pressure, improvement in blood circulation, and improvement in exercise performance.

The health benefits of beetroot are attributed to its high amount of inorganic nitrates.

Beetroots are very delicious even when eaten raw but mostly, they are consumed cooked or pickled. The leaves of the beetroot are also very edible.

There are many types of beetroot. Most of them can be distinguished by their color – white, dark purple, pink, or yellow. After reading this article, you would have known a lot about the health benefits of beetroot.

Health benefits of beetroot
Photo Credit: Olive Oils from Spain

NUTRITION FACTS ABOUT BEETROOTS

The major components of beets include carbs (8 percent), water (87 percent), and fiber (2-3 percent.

A cup of boiled beets (about 136g) will contain at least 50 calories, while 100g of beetroot (3/4 cup) will give you the following (1):

  • Fat: 0.2g
  • Fiber: 2.8g
  • Sugar: 6.8g
  • Carbs: 9.6g
  • Protein: 1.6g
  • Water: 88 percent
  • Calories: 43

Carbs

You can get 8-10 percent carbs from cooked or raw beetroot.

80 percent of the carbs in cooked and raw beetroots are from simple sugars like fructose and glucose. Glucose makes up 70 percent of the carbs while fructose makes up 80 percent.

Beetroots are rich in fructans. Fructans are short-chain carbs and belong to the FODMAPs family. They cause some unpleasant sensation in the digestive system.

The glycemic index of beetroots is 61. This is a medium score. The glycemic index of a food substance determines how fast your blood sugar level will rise after eating that substance (2).

On the other hand, beetroots have a glycemic load of 5. This is quite low.

What this implies is that beetroots will not have any major effect on the level of blood sugar in your body because the total amount of carbs per serving is on the low side.

Fiber

The fiber content of beetroots is on the high side. With a 100g of raw beetroots (3/4 cups), you can get 2-3 grams of fiber.

Dietary fiber is an important component of a healthy diet and plays an important role in reducing the risk of many diseases (3).

Vitamins & Minerals

Beetroots are rich in vitamins and minerals. These include:

  • Folate: Folate is also known as vitamin B6. Vitamin B6 plays a very important role in cell function and tissue growth. It is good for pregnant women (4, 5).
  • Manganese. Manganese is a very important trace element. It is present in large amounts in vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains.
  • Potassium. A potassium-rich diet helps in the regulation of blood pressure. It also boosts heart health (6).
  • Iron. The role of iron in the body cannot be overemphasized. It helps in the transport of oxygen by the red blood cells.
  • Vitamin C. Vitamin C is a very important antioxidant. It is vital for skin health and immune function (7, 8).

OTHER PHYTOCHEMICALS PRESENT IN BEETROOT

Phytochemicals are natural compounds that are present in plants. Some of these phytochemicals contribute to good health.

The major compounds in beetroots include:

  • Betanin. Betanin is also known as beetroot red. It has a very strong red color, with loads of health benefits (9).
  • Inorganic nitrate. Inorganic nitrate is present in large amounts in green vegetables. You can also find it in beetroot juice. The body converts inorganic nitrate into nitric oxide. This nitric oxide has many important functions in the body (10, 11, 12).
  • Vulgaxanthin. This is an orange or yellow pigment that is present in yellow beets and beetroots juice.

Inorganic Nitrates

Inorganic nitrates include nitric oxide, and nitrates.

Beetroot juice and beetroots have a high content of nitrates.

However, there has been a lot of controversy surrounding these substances.

Some authorities believe that nitrates are harmful and have carcinogenic properties, while other authorities are of the view that the risk is caused by nitrites that are found in processed meat (13, 14).

Vegetables and fruits provide most of our dietary nitrate. Conversely, dietary nitrites are sourced from cereals, baked goods, food additives, and cured or processed meats (10, 15).

Some studies have shown that diets that have a high content of nitrates and nitrites have many health benefits, including reducing blood pressure and reducing the risk of many ailments (13, 16).

The human body has the ability to convert dietary nitrates into nitric oxide (12).

Nitric oxide helps in the relaxation of the muscles of the arterial walls (17, 18).

When the muscles relax, the blood vessel widens and the blood pressure reduces (19).

HEALTH BENEFITS OF BEETROOT

There are many health benefits of beetroot. The most important is an improvement in exercise performance and heart health.

Regulation of blood pressure

Hypertension causes damage to the heart and the blood vessels. Also, it triggers heart disease, premature death, and stroke (20).

If you eat foods that are rich in inorganic nitrates, you will minimize your risk of heart disease by raising the formation of nitric oxide and reducing blood pressure (21, 22).

Research has shown that the juice from beetroot can reduce your blood pressure by at least 3mmHg and up to 10mmHg within a few hours (21, 23, 24, 25).

These health effects increase the level of nitric oxide, thus causing the relaxation and dilation of blood vessels (26, 27, 28, 29). These are the important health benefits of beetroot.

Improvement in exercise capacity

Research has shown that nitrates can boost physical performance, especially in high-intensity exercises.

Dietary nitrates reduce oxygen consumption during physical exercise by affecting mitochondrial efficiency (30).

Beetroot juice is rich in inorganic nitrate.

Intake of beetroot juice improves performance in cycling and running. It also boosts oxygen consumption, stamina, and also enhances exercise performance (31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37). These are important health benefits of beetroot

DOES BEETROOT HAVE ANY ADVERSE EFFECTS?

Beetroots can be tolerated by almost everyone, except people that are prone to kidney stones.

High consumption of beetroots can cause a change in the color of urine – to either red or pink. This is not harmful in any way, but hilariously, many people may think that it is blood.

The amount of oxalates in beetroots is quite high

Oxalates play a role in the formation of kidney stones (38, 39).

Another disadvantage of oxalates is that they have the potential to interfere with the absorption of nutrients.

The leaves of beetroots have a higher level of oxalates, compared to the roots (40).

THE SUMMARY

Beetroots are loaded with plant compounds, fiber, and nutrients.

The health benefits of beetroot include good heart health and a boost in exercise levels. These are due to the inorganic nitrates that are present in beetroot.

Beetroots have a sweet taste, and very yummy when used in salads. Beetroots can be eaten baked, raw, or boiled.

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