Beetroot: Health Benefits

By Nutrition Expert – Trupti Gurav,Mumbai

Beetroot is a root vegetable also known as red beet, table beet, garden beet, or just beet.

Packed with essential nutrients, beetroots are a great source of fiber, folate (vitamin B9), manganese, potassium, iron, and vitamin C.

Originally from Europe, beetroot was first cultivated by the Romans. By the 19th century, it was discovered that it contains one of the highest sugar contents of any vegetable and was then used commercially to extract sucrose from the beet plant.

For years, it’s been restricted to the corner of the plate as a forgetful side or mostly dumped in salads. [2]

Nutrition Facts

Beets mainly consist of water (87%), carbs (8%), and fiber (2–3%). [1]

  • Carbs- Raw or cooked beetroot offers about 8–10% carbs. Which consist of Simple sugars such as glucose and fructose make up 70% and 80% of the carbs in raw and cooked beetroots. Beetroots are also a source of fructans short-chain carbs classified as FODMAPs. Some people cannot digest FODMAPs, causing unpleasant digestive symptoms.
  • Fiber- Beetroots are high in fiber. Dietary fiber is important as part of a healthy diet and linked to a reduced risk of various diseases.
  • Vitamins and Minerals- Beets are good sources of vitamins and minerals, such as folate, manganese, potassium, iron, and vitamin C.

Health Benefits of Beetroots

Beetroots and beetroot juice have many health benefits: [1] [5] [7]

Lower Blood Pressure: High blood pressure can damage your blood vessels and heart. It’s the strongest risk factors for heart disease, stroke, and premature death worldwide.

Study published by vikas kapil, 24 Nov 2014, a study of 68 people with high blood pressure examined the effects of drinking 250 milliliters of beetroot juice every day.

They founded that doing so significantly lowered blood pressure after ingestion.

They suggest that this antihypertensive effect was due to the high levels of nitrate in the beet juice and they recommend consuming high nitrate vegetables as an effective, low cost way to help treat high blood pressure. [4]

Increased Exercise Capacity: Numerous studies suggest that nitrates can enhance physical performance, particularly during high-intensity endurance exercise.

Dietary nitrates have been shown to reduce oxygen use during physical exercise by affecting the efficiency of mitochondria, the cell organs responsible for producing energy

One 2019 study found that high doses of beetroot juice improved the time trial results of experienced cyclists. [5]

Consumption of beetroots may improve running and cycling performance, increase stamina, boost oxygen use, and lead to better exercise performance overall.

Helps in detoxification: Beetroot is reckoned to be a great purifier. It detoxifies your body by pulling the toxins into the colon from where they can be evacuated.

Rich in antioxidants: The pigment which gives beetroot its colour, is a potent antioxidant. Along with another class of antioxidants called polyphenols, these are getting more attention in the scientific community. 

Hair careBeetroot is actually one of the best home remedies to fight the flakes and an itchy scalp. You can boil some beets in water and use the concentrated liquid to massage on the scalp. Alternatively, you can mix some beetroot juice, vinegar and ginger juice and apply to the scalp. Keep this for 20 minutes and rinse. 

May Help Fight Inflammation: Chronic inflammation is associated with a number of diseases, such as obesity, heart disease, liver disease and cancer.

Beets contain pigments called betalains, which may potentially possess a number of anti-inflammatory properties.

Diabetes: Beets contain an antioxidant called alpha-lipoic acid. This compound may help lower glucose levels and increase insulin sensitivity.

A 2019 review of studies looked at the effects of alpha-lipoic acid on the symptoms of diabetic neuropathy. The researchers found that oral and intravenous administration of alpha-lipoic acid supplements led to a decrease in symptoms of peripheral and autonomic neuropathy in people with diabetes. [8]

May Improve Digestive Health: Dietary fiber is an important component of a healthy diet. It has been linked to many health benefits, including improved digestion. Making beets a Fiber bypasses digestion and heads down to the colon, where it either feeds the friendly gut bacteria or adds bulk to stool.

This can promote digestive health, keep you regular and prevent digestive conditions like constipation, inflammatory bowel disease and diverticulitis.

May Help Support Brain Health: Mental and cognitive function naturally decline with age. For some, this decline is significant and may result in conditions like dementia. A reduction in blood flow and oxygen supply to the brain may contribute to this decline. Interestingly, the nitrates in beets may improve mental and cognitive function by promoting the dilation of blood vessels and thus increasing blood flow to the brain.

Beets have been shown to particularly improve blood flow to the frontal lobe of the brain, an area associated with higher-level thinking, such as decision making and working memory 

May Have Some Anti-Cancer Properties: Cancer is a serious and potentially fatal disease characterized by the uncontrolled growth of cells.

The antioxidant content and anti-inflammatory nature of beets have led to an interest in its ability to prevent cancer.

May Help You Lose Weight: Beets have several nutritional properties that should make them good for weight loss. First, beets are low in calories and high in water. Increasing your intake of low-calorie foods like fruits and vegetables has been associated with weight loss.

Beets contain moderate amounts of protein and fiber. These are both important nutrients for achieving and maintaining a healthy weight. The fiber in beets may also help promote weight loss by reducing appetite and promoting feelings of fullness, thereby reducing overall calorie intake.

Can Be Beneficial During Pregnancy: Beets are also rich in folic acid, which is a very good reason for pregnant mothers to include them in their diet. Folic acid helps prevent neural tube defects in the baby.

Can Improve Skin Health: Beets contain vitamin A that maintains healthy mucous membranes and improves skin health. Vitamin A also supports the daily replacement of skin cells. Some believe that beetroot may also help purify the blood. This may promote skin health.

How to select and store

Good quality, fresh beetroots should have their greens intact. The greens should be fresh-looking with no signs of spoilage. The beetroot should be firm, smooth, and a vibrant red-purple, not soft, wrinkled or dull in colour. Fresh beets with the greens attached can be stored for three to four days in the fridge, but beets with the greens removed can be stored in the fridge for two to four weeks. Raw beets do not freeze well since they tend to become soft on thawing. Freezing cooked beetroot is fine as it retains its flavor and texture. [3]

Beetroot in Diet

People can roast, steam, boil, or pickle beets. They can also eat them raw.

The following tips can help people gain the nutritional benefits of beets in tasty ways: [7] [9]

  • Make beetroot juice by peeling beetroot and blending it with a combination of fresh orange, mint, pineapple or apples, lemon, and ginger. People can strain it afterward for a smoother texture. Remember that adding other juices or fruits could increase the sugar content of the juice.
  • Grate or slice raw beets and add them to coleslaw or a salad. Top roasted beets with goat’s cheese for a flavorful pairing.
  • Slice raw beets and serve them with lemon juice and a sprinkle of chili powder.
  • The nutrients in beetroots are heat sensitive. With the rise in cooking time and temperature, the antioxidant content decreases.
  • Beetroot is rich in Vitamin C which is a water soluble vitamin that can be destroyed on cooking. Not only this, it also loses more than 25 percent of its folate when cooked. It is best to mildly steam or bake it at lower temperatures.
  • Fresh beets are as happy in a soup as they are when pureed in a dip. If the jelly flesh has kept you away from beetroots
  • Grilling, on the other hand, draws out the sweetness and gives it smoky flavour. I also like to throw some beetroot shreds in a bowl of rice with some mustard seeds, makes for a quick meal.

Some Side Effects

  • Drinking beetroot juice can lead to red, purple, or pink urine or stools. Although this may seem alarming, it should not be a cause for medical concern. Doctors refer to this as “beeturia.”
  • People prone to oxalate-type kidney stones should be careful not to consume too much of the beet tops.
  • People with gastrointestinal issues or irritable bowel syndrome may experience stomach upset after consuming beetroot juice.

For good health, it is better to eat a diet that includes a wide range of food and nutrients. It’s also delicious and versatile, fitting well into a healthy and balanced diet.

References:-

  1. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/foods/beetroot
  2. https://food.ndtv.com/food-drinks/benefits-of-beetroot-in-the-pink-of-health-1237538
  3. https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/ingredient-focus-beetroot
  4. https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/full/10.1161/hypertensionaha.114.04675
  5. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/277432
  6. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30685420/
  7. https://food.ndtv.com/food-drinks/benefits-of-beetroot-in-the-pink-of-health-1237538
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6723188/
  9. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/277432#diet

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