Hailed as a superfood, the humble beetroot (also known as beet) is a little treasure trove of health affirming goodness. It seems that a lot of people never venture further than pickled beetroot – not realising that there is a whole culinary beetroot world out there waiting to be discovered. Beets come in different colours (like white and orange), although they are most commonly known for their deep reddish/purple colour. The unique, earthy tap roots are the part that people most often eat, yet it is useful to know that the green leaves are totally edible and filled with beneficial nutrients too. In this article I am going to explore some of the most celebrated health benefits of this wonderful plant food.
Health benefits of beetroot …
1. Helps to lower blood pressure
Studies suggest that people with high blood pressure (hypertension) show a significant decrease in blood pressure after drinking beetroot juice. Experts report that the nitrates present in beetroot may cause the blood pressure to decrease. The nitrates convert to nitric oxide – which increases oxygen in the blood – and subsequently helps to relax the blood vessels, allowing blood to flow with greater ease.
2. Rich in essential nutrients
Beetroot is high in:
• Folate (folic acid/B9) – essential for DNA synthesis and repair
• Manganese – for skin and bone health; blood sugar management; protection against free-radicals
• Potassium – helpful for blood pressure regulation and kidney health
• Vitamin C – powerful anti-oxidant; helpful for wound healing; blood sugar regulator
• Beetroot also has good levels of zinc, iron and copper for maintaining general healthy body function.
3. Anti-cancer benefits
Encouraging studies on human tumour cells show that the betanin pigment from beetroot can reduce tumour growth in colon, stomach, nerve, breast and testicular tissues.
4. Supports healthy liver function
Betanin helps to protect the liver by preventing the build-up of fatty deposits, encouraging bile stimulation and acting as a powerful anti-oxidant. It is said to help the liver get rid of toxins, supporting its natural function as an organ of detoxification, and helping to eliminate harmful substances from the body.
5. Helps energy levels and physical endurance
A fascinating study on the effect of nitrate from beetroot juice found that people who drank the juice showed a significant increase in physical tolerance and stamina.
6. Super anti-oxidant properties
Beetroot is high in glutathione, polyphenols and betalains, which all have excellent anti-oxidant properties. Anti-oxidants play a key role in prevention of most chronic diseases, due to their ability to counteract the effects of free radical damage on human tissue.