A history of health
Beetroot for blood pressure management
Researchers have known for some time that juice may help lower blood pressure, but in 2010 UK researchers revealed that nitrate is the special ingredient in beetroot which lowers blood pressure and may help to fight heart disease.
In a Queen Mary University of London study, healthy participants had to drink a glass of beetroot juice while others had a dummy (placebo) drink. Others took nitrate tablets.
Blood pressure was lowered within 24 hours in people who took nitrate tablets and those who drank beetroot juice.
The researchers admitted to Boots WebMD that beetroot juice is a love it or hate it kind of drink, but found people in the study didn't mind it so much when they were drinking it every day.
People with very high blood pressure can end up being on multiple tablets, so a more natural approach could prove popular if the initial research results are confirmed.
Beetroot for the brain and dementia
Drinking beetroot juice increases blood flow to the brain in older people, which may be able to fight the progression of dementia, a 2010 study suggested.
Beetroot contains high concentrations of nitrates, which are converted into nitrites by bacteria in the mouth. Nitrites help open blood vessels in the body, increasing blood flow and oxygen to places lacking in oxygen.
Previous studies have shown that nitrites widen blood vessels, but US researchers writing in Nitric Oxide: Biology and Chemistry, the peer-reviewed journal of the Nitric Oxide Society, say theirs was the first to find that nitrites also increase blood flow to the brain.
The beetroot is the taproot portion of the beet plant, also known in North America as the table beet, garden beet, redor golden beet, or informally simply as the beet. It is several of the cultivated varieties of beet (Beta vulgaris) grown for their edible taproots and their greens. These varieties have been classified as B. vulgaris subsp. vulgaris ConditivaGroup.
Other than as a food, beets have use as a food coloring and as a medicinal plant. Many beet products are made from other Beta vulgaris varieties, particularly sugar beet.
Nutrients and phytochemicals
Beetroot is an excellent source of folate and a good source ofmanganese, and contains betaines which may function to reduce the concentration of homocysteine, a homolog of the naturally occurring amino acid cysteine. High circulating levels of homocysteine may be harmful to blood vessels and thus contribute to the development of heart disease, stroke, or peripheral vascular disease This hypothesis is controversial as it has not yet been established whether homocysteine itself is harmful or is just an indicator of increased risk for heart disease.
The red colour compound betanin is not broken down in the body, and in higher concentrations may temporarily cause urine and stool to assume a reddish colour; in the case of urine this is called beeturia. This effect may cause distress and concern due to the visual similarity to hematuria (blood in the urine) or blood in the stool, but is completely harmless and will subside once the food is out of the system.
|Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)|
|Energy||180 kJ (43 kcal)|
|Dietary fiber||2.0 g|
|Vitamin A equiv.|