Beetroot is really good for you! For a start it is rich in dietary nitrate which studies show are linked to a whole range of health benefits. It is also one of the richest sources of antioxidants of any vegetable in the supermarket ranking alongside spinach, brussels sprouts and kale according to studies at Cornell University.
Packed with essential nutrients, beetroots are a great source of fibre, folate (vitamin B9), manganese, potassium, iron, and vitamin C.
The vivid red compounds which give beetroot it’s distinct colour are known as betalains. These compounds are unusual in plants with beetroot the only common dietary source.
It is thought that betalains can help us by reducing inflammation, reducing the ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol, and boost the bodies defence against cancer.
Reducing your blood pressure
A number of studies have shown that regular consumption of beetroot helps reduce blood pressure even if the patient is already taking blood pressure tablets. This effect happens because the dietary nitrate in beetroot help the arteries to relax promoting blood flow.
Reducing attention deficit disorder and allergies in children
Take a look at this extract from Cornell University and see the full link below in ‘Sources’.
“Many processed foods in the United States – like fruit jams, candy, snacks and beverages – contain red dyes,” said senior author Alireza Abbaspourrad, the Yongkeun Joh Assistant Professor of Food Chemistry and Ingredient Technology. “Through other scientific studies, some artificial dyes are implicated in health problems, such as attention deficits and allergies in children.”
To replace the artificial dyes, the food scientists looked to improve the effectiveness of many naturally available dyes, such as the red betalain pigments found in beet extracts.
Boost your sports performance
Studies into the effects of beetroot on sports performance are now happening all over the world. The Swiss Institute of Sports Medicine found that athletes in a cycling trial were able to pedal for 16% longer if they drank beetroot juice 3 hours before the test.
According to the University of Exeter a similar thing happened with rugby players who were able to sprint 3.5% faster and they even made decisions 3% faster. Doesn’t sound a lot but it be the difference between winning a match and losing!
Helping inactive people become active
Scientists at the Duke University Medical Center have been researching the effects of beetroot juice on people with peripheral arterial disease (PAD). The disease makes walking very painful because of poor blood flow to the legs. However patients given a 500ml drink of beetroot juice were able to walk comfortably for 18% longer because of increased oxygen supply to their legs. Again the effect kicked just 3 hours after drinking the juice.
Does the colour matter?
There is more of the red pigment betalain in the dark red to purple beets as opposed the white beets (which have none) or the candy striped beets which only have small amounts. Yellow beets have a different form of betalain which has lower antioxidant properties. So go for the darker red ones!
Cooked vs uncooked beetroot
It turns out that the vacuum processed beetroot that you find in the supermarkets is actually better for you than cooking the beets yourselves. The processing doubles or even triples the antioxidant levels and increases the betalain levels by up to 20%. Happy days!