The most vividly coloured vegetable, the beetroot (beta vulgaris rubra) is so nutritious that you’ll want to have some every day! Packed full of easily absorbed nutrients, the health benefits of beetroot remain some of the best among the plant-food world!
The easiest way to incorporate beetroot into your diet is to consume it freshly juiced. It can also be eaten raw by preparing it grated, sliced or chopped and added to salads or eaten on its own. Its flavour is deliciously sweet.
Drinking beetroot juice can not only boost your energy and eliminate fatigue, it can improve your memory, enhance exercise performance, keep your immune system strong, give you glowing healthy skin, protect cells from damage and cancer, relieve constipation, reduce blood pressure, improve cardiovascular health and protect the liver. It’s an important food to consume during pregnancy as all the active constituents are necessary for the mother and growing fetus. Beetroot can also assist to strengthen the body and detoxify the liver and kidneys and increase circulation.
You can’t beet that!!
10 Health Benefits of Beetroot
Nitrate which gets converted to nitric oxide in our bodies to provide us with long lasting energy. A study by the University of Exeter, UK found that beetroot juice enhanced cardiovascular health and exercise performance. In another study they investigated the positive effects of beetroot juice and showed that having 500ml of beetroot juice 3 hours before training or competition improves exercise performance and reduces oxygen usage.
Beetroot increases energy and stamina by reducing the amount of oxygen needed by blood vessels and muscles by widening the blood vessels and allowing the oxygen available to flow easily. This means you can feel energized to get everything done in your day and have longer training sessions.
Iron which is necessary for normal healthy blood and energy production as it transports oxygen through our blood to provide energy and reduce fatigue for everyday activities like walking and chores. It is highly beneficial for athletes to replenish iron stores in blood and muscle for energy production and cell repair. We also need iron to keep us healthy as it supports our immune system by producing lymphocytes and natural killer (NK) cells that help prevent infection.
Iron needs in women are increased during pregnancy and breast feeding and menstruation.
Betalains. A type of antioxidant that protects our cells from damage and prevents cancer. The two colours of betalains in beetroot are red-purple and yellow betalains.
Vitamin A promotes the integrity of healthy skin cells that cover the surface of our bodies as well as the cells in the linings of the cavities of our bodies such as in the digestive, respiratory and urinary tracts and in many of our organs as well like the stomach, kidney and pancreas. These cells form a barrier to protect us from contaminants hence their importance in our immunity. Vitamin A is also needed for the retina in the eye to allow us to have good eyesight and be able to adjust our eyes to see in the dark and have night vision.
Vitamin A is necessary for embryonic development where it is involved with the formation of the eyes, limbs, nervous and cardiovascular systems as well as production and maintenance of healthy skin cells and mucous membranes found in the lungs, skin and digestive tracts.
Vitamin C helps improve the absorption of iron. So the iron in beetroot is highly usable because of the synergistic way that vitamin C accompanies it. It’s also an antioxidant that helps to stop the damaging effects of oxidizing compounds that can cause damage to our cells. It’s required for tissue growth and repair and again vital for the formation of collagen not only for gorgeous firm glowing skin but for strong bone, tendons, cartilage and muscle. Gingivitis and bleeding gums can be an indicator that you need to increase your vitamin C intake. Vitamin C is essential in wound healing and protecting against infection thus it enhances immunity. It helps to prevent a cold and can relieve the symptoms of a cold if it takes hold.
Calcium is necessary for developing and maintaining strong bones. A regular intake of calcium helps to maintain bone density which may prevent and treat osteoporosis and reduce the risk of fracture. It’s also necessary for normal nerve transmission and muscle contraction. We need calcium for blood clotting, for normal blood pressure and circulation. Easy bruising and feeling the cold may be a sign that you’re deficient in calcium. Calcium is also necessary for collagen formation for the structure and integrity of skin cells. The Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute in Melbourne, Australia found that beetroot juice lowered blood pressure 6 hours after consumption and could be included in the daily diet.
Folic acid is required for growth and development and is vital during pregnancy for normal embryo development to prevent neural tube defects like spina bifida (spinal cord bulge through the back) and anencephaly (absence of a brain). Children with spina bifida can have paralysis, incontinence and learning disabilities and children born with anencephaly die shortly after birth. Folic acid is needed for the production of our DNA and RNA for our genetic makeup and cell development and for amino acid metabolism and conversion so that we can utilize them efficiently.
Manganese has antioxidant capacities and helps us to utilize carbohydrates, protein and fat. It’s also linked to ‘creaky knees’ where extra flexibility is required and useful in chronic conditions such as arthritis. Manganese aids in the formation of mother’s milk so is very important during lactation. It’s also useful for blood sugar regulation and energy. Manganese is also called the ‘memory mineral’ and along with the nitrates in beetroot increase cerebral blood flow increasing the oxygen supply for brain functions that prevent memory loss and symptoms of dementia.
Protein is essential for growth and development of all the bodies tissues especially muscles, blood, skin, hair, nails and internal organs such as the heart and the brain. It’s also required for forming hormones, our bodies messengers that regulate functions, enzymes for chemical reactions and neurotransmitters released by our nerves and also antibodies for our immunity to resist infection.
Potassium is needed for regulating the fluid balance within the cells maintaining the acid base balance of the blood and keeps us hydrated, energized and reduces muscle cramping and fatigue. It also transmits nerve impulses and helps to contract muscles. Thus is beneficial for a healthy heart, nervous system and muscular system. It can help reduce feelings of fatigue, low stamina and muscle weakness and cramps.
Fibre is necessary for a healthy digestive system as it prevents constipation, can prevent some IBS symptoms and reduces the risk of colon disease. Fibre can also keep you fuller for longer so those people looking to reduce their weight will benefit by also reducing their calorie intake. Fibre also aids in holding toxins and eliminating them from the body and helps to reduce blood cholesterol levels and blood sugar levels to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
Everyone’s health will benefit from consuming beetroot. The growing young child can ensure they are thriving and developing correctly, pregnant women will benefit immensely as the nitrate and iron will improve their energy, the fibre helps to eliminate constipation common in pregnancy, folic acid essential for the developing foetus, antioxidants for cell development and repair, and lactation will also be supported, busy girls and guys, mums and dads, athletes and the ageing population can all enjoy the health and energy properties that beetroot has to offer.
When incorporating beetroot into the diet: 1 Cup of Beetroot supplies 60 calories, 2 grams of protein, 13.6 grams of carbohydrate and 1 gram of fibre.
You may notice that your urine or stools are purple coloured because the betanin purple pigment is not broken down in the body. This is harmless and will stop when you remove beetroot from the diet.
Phyllis A Balch 2010 Prescription for Nutritional Healing
Wardlaw’s 2009 Perspectives in Nutrition Eighth Edition
Presley TD 2010 – Acute effect of a high nitrate diet on brain perfusion in older adults
Ninfali P2013 – Nutritional and functional potential of Beta Vulgaris cicla and rubra
Wylie LJ 2013 University of Exeter UK – Beetroot juice and exercise:pharmacodymanic and dose-response relationships
Jones AM 2012 University of Exeter UK – Dietary nitrate and O2 consumption during exercise
Coles LT 2012 Baker IDI Heart & Diabetes Institute, Melbourne Australia – Effect of beetroot juice on lowering blood pressure in free-living, disease-free adults: a randomized, placebo-controlled trial
Krajka_Kuzniak V 2012 Beetroot juice protects against N-nitrosodiethylamine-induced liver injury in rats
Bailey, 2009 -Dietary nitrate supplementation reduces the O2 cost of low-intensity exercise and enhances tolerance to high-intensity exercise in humans