Beetroot is a biennial plant that is cultivated for its crimson-colored root. It is used to make salad pickles, consumed as juices, etc. It is a good source of micronutrients and dietary fibre and is high in zinc, iron and potassium. It is also rated among the top-ten vegetables when it comes to the content of antioxidants.
However, despite Its excellent nutrition profile, it is not consumed in significant amounts in India. It is because Indians primarily use vegetables to prepare curries, unlike in many western countries where it is consumed in salads and juices. And, the use of beetroot for preparing curries is uncommon. Nevertheless, Indians do consume it in various ways, and it is readily available throughout the country.
In recent years, beetroot has received increasing attention as a functional food that may help prevent ailments and treat specific disease conditions. As a result, research has been done about its health benefits in the West, and many of its health benefits are now well supported by science.
Its health benefits are due to two reasons. Firstly, it is an excellent source of antioxidants containing carotenoids, phenolic compounds, and flavonoids. It is especially rich in a unique antioxidant called betalains (a red pigment in the beetroot). Thus, it helps to suppress systemic inflammation and promote regenerative processes.
Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, it is a potent NO (nitrate oxide) booster due to its high nitrate content. Among vegetables, beetroot is very powerful in increasing endothelial NO. Increased NO is especially good for providing a boost in energy levels and improving vascular health.
Boosts physical performance
In the west, beetroot extract or juice is becoming popular as a pre-workout supplement and even as a sports supplement. When taken before exercise, it provides a much-needed boost in energy levels and thus helps train better. It does so by improving blood flow to the muscles and improving blood oxygenation. All these actions are due to its ability to boost NO.
Increased NO levels can provide an edge in professional sports. However, there are very few natural and legal ways of boosting NO levels, and it appears that beetroot is among the most potent ways. Due to this, many clinical trials confirm its ability to boost sports performance. It appears especially good for improving endurance. It may also help build muscles due to improved exercise tolerance.
In one of the clinical trials, researchers gave athletes 200 grams of baked beetroot before a 5 km run and gave cranberries to the placebo group. They found that beetroot resulted in about 5% higher pace. They also noted that the beetroot group reported less fatigue. Therefore, they concluded that beetroot could enhance sports performance.
These benefits were also confirmed in a systematic review (a study that combines data from multiple studies). The systemic review found that it has a particular role in boosting cardiorespiratory endurance and thus improving sports performance.
Lowers blood pressure
NO (nitrate oxide) is known to have a vasodilatory (widening of blood vessels) effect and reduce peripheral resistance. Thus, anything that boosts NO levels may also have a blood-pressure-lowering effect. Some of the blood-pressure-lowering medications are also known to increase NO levels.
In one of the clinical studies, researchers gave participants beetroot-containing bread and compared it with a placebo (white beetroot). They found that even 100 grams of beetroot could help reduce both systolic and diastolic blood pressure significantly.
There are numerous ways in which regular beetroot intake may boost cardiovascular health. It can lower blood pressure and improve endothelial function. Thus, it also reduces the risk of plaque formation and heart attack. Additionally, it may exert a protective effect on the heart due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. As south-asians are particularly prone to heart diseases, adding beetroot to a regular diet is strongly recommended.
Studies show that a beetroot supplemented diet is good for brain health. It boosts vascular health, reduces inflammation, and improves the brain’s redox balance. In addition, experimental studies show that it may help prevent memory degradation caused by increased stress and other issues.
Good for digestive health
Since beetroot is high in antioxidants and dietary fibre, it may be suitable for managing IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) and reducing common symptoms caused by food intolerances. In addition, since beetroot is so good for digestion and health, it is also recommended for use as a natural food colourant. It may be added to cereals, desserts, sweets, jams, sauces, and much more.
Reduces cancer risk
Vegetables may help reduce cancer risk in multiple ways. For example, dietary fibre in vegetables may boost intestinal motility and minimise the risk of colon cancer. In addition, studies show that betanin, one of the significant betalains, can have a direct impact on cancer cells. For example, it can suppress the growth of breast cancer cells. It also appears to act against the development of skin and liver cancers.
Two things set beetroot apart from other vegetables, its high content of unique antioxidant betalains, and its ability to boost NO unlike any other fruit and vegetables. Considering these incredible benefits for health, there is a need for increased beetroot consumption in people’s daily lives. Beetroot may not just improve physical performance but may also positively impact mood and libido. It may help reduce fatigue too.
Disclaimer: Medical Science is an ever evolving field. We strive to keep this page updated. In case you notice any discrepancy in the content, please inform us at [email protected]. You can futher read our Correction Policy here. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment because of something you have read on or accessed through this website or it's social media channels. Read our Full Disclaimer Here for further information.