Beetroot, also known as beet, has gained popularity as a new super food due to recent studies claiming that beets and beetroot juice can improve athletic performance, lower blood pressure and increase blood flow. Recently, new drinks and juices are being manufactured with beets because of its nutritional value. One cup of raw beets contains 58 calories, 13 grams of carb (including 9 grams of sugar and 4 grams of fiber) and 2 grams of protein. It provides 1% of daily vitamin A needs, 2% of calcium, 11% of vitamin C and 6% of iron. Beetroot is a rich source of folate and manganese and also contains thiamine, riboflavin, vitamin B-6, pantothenic acid, choline, betaine, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper and selenium.
Beets are high in dietary nitrate, which is believed to be the reason why many of the potential health benefits of beetroot are being studied. Many studies have suggested that increasing consumption of plant foods like beetroot decreases the risk of obesity and overall mortality, diabetics, hypertension and promotes a healthy complexion and hair, increased energy, overall lower weight.
Heart health and blood pressure: A 2008 study published in Hypertension examined the effects of ingesting 500mls of beetroot juice in healthy volunteers and found that blood pressure was significantly lowered after ingestion. This they said was as a result of high nitrate levels in beet juice and that the high nitrate vegetables could prove to be a low cost and effective way to treat cardiovascular conditions and blood pressure.
Dementia: Researchers at Wake Forest University have found that drinking juice from beetroot can improve oxygenation to the brain, slowing the progression of dementia in older adults. According to Daniel Kim-Shapiro, director of Wake Forest’s Translational Science Center, blood flow to certain areas of the brain decrease with age and leads to a decline in cognition and possible dementia. Consuming beetroot juice as part of a high nitrate diet can improve the blood flow and oxygenation to these areas that are lacking.
Diabetes: Beets contain an antioxidant known as alpha-lipoic acid, which has been shown to lower glucose levels, increase insulin sensitivity and prevent oxidative stress-induced changes in patients with diabetes. Promotes regularity for a healthy digestive tract because its high in fibre.
How to incorporate more beetroot into your diet
Beetroots can be roasted, steamed, boiled, pickled or eaten raw.
- Make your own beetroot juice by peeling beetroot and blending with a combination of fresh orange, mint and pineapple or apples, lemon or ginger. Blend and strain.
- Grate raw beets and add them to coleslaw or your favorite salad.
- Top roasted/raw beets with goat cheese.
Potential health risks of consuming beetroot If improperly stored, nitrate-containing vegetable juice may accumulate bacteria that convert nitrate to nitrite and contaminate the juice. High levels of nitrite can be potentially harmful if consumed. Drinking beetroot juice may cause red urine or stool (well thats expected since beets are red in colour..Not a problem though) Eat in moderation.