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Home Naturopathy Food & Diet Healthy Beetroot
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Naturopathy - Food & Diet
Written by Dr. N. Senthil Kumar   
Thursday, 17 May 2012 18:25

Health Benefits of BeetrootHealth Benefits of Beetroot

The beetroot, also known as the table beet, garden beet, red beet or informally simply as beet, is one of the many cultivated varieties of beets (Beta vulgaris) and arguably the most commonly encountered variety in North America and Britain.

Modern varieties of beets are derived from the sea beet, an inedible plant that grows wild along the coasts of Europe, North Africa and Asia. The garden beet has been cultivated for thousands of years.

In ancient Greece, beets were so highly valued that, according to myth, a beet was offered on a silver platter to Apollo at Delphi. Today, beets are grown in many regions of the world.

Nutrients in beetroot

Beet greens are very good source of calcium, iron, Vitamins A and C. Beetroots are excellent source of folic acid. They are also very good source of fiber, manganese and potassium. Beet greens and beetroot are a good source of phosphorus, magnesium, iron and vitamin B6. Betacyanin is the pigment that gives beetroot it s color and has powerful antioxidant properties.

Health benefits

Beetroots are a rich source of potent antioxdants and nutrients including magnesium, sodium, potassium and vitamin  C and betaine, which is important for cardiovascular helth.

Several preliminary studies on both rats and humans have shown betaine may protect against liver disease, particularly the buildup of fatty deposits in the liver caused by alcohol abuse, protein deficiency or diabetes, among othe rcauses. The nutrient also helps individuals with hypochlorhydria, a condition causing abnormally low levels of stomach acid, by increasing stomach acidity.

Cholesterol Reduction

Beet fiber has been shown to have cholesterol lowering capabilities. In a study on rats with induced high blood cholesterol, a red beet fiber diet caused a reduction of serum cholesterol and tri-glyceride levels (by 30 and 40%, respectively) and a significant increase in HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol). This diet induced also a significant decrease (almost by 30%)of cholesterol content in the aorta.

Blood Pressure

Beetroot juice has been shown to lower blood pressure in subjects with normal blood pressure. In healthy volunteers, approximately 3 hours after ingestion of 500 ml of beetroot juice, blood pressure was substantially reduced. An effect that is correlated with peak increases in plasma nitrite concent ration, nitrite being the blood pressure reducing ingredient.

Beetroot and nitrate capsules are equally effective in lowering blood pressure indicating that it is the nitrate content of beetroot juice that underlies its potential to reduce blood pressure. It has also been found that only a small amount of juice is needed (just 250ml) to have this effect.

Cardiovascular Disease Prevention

Betaine, a nutrient found in beets and some other foods, lowers plasma homocysteine, a possible risk factor for cardiovascular  disease. Betaine supplements are manufactured as a by product of sugar beet Processing. Betaine supplementation has however been found to increase blood LDL cholesterol and tri-glyceride concentrations in healthy persons, which may undo the potential benefits of betaine supplementation through homocysteine lowering for cardiovascular health.

Healthy Liver

Beetroot contains the bioactive agent betaine, which supports healthy liver function. When the liver is functioning properly, fats are broken down efficiently, aiding weight loos and preventing fatigue and nausea.

Cancer Prevention

The in-vitro in hibitory effect of beet-root extract on Epstein Barr Virus-Early Antigen (EBV-EA) induction using Raji cells revealed a high order of activity compared to capsanthin, cranberry, red onion skin and short and long red bell peppers. An in vivo antitumour promoting activity evaluation against the mice skin and lung bioassays also revealed a significant tumour in hibitory effect. The combined findings suggest that beetroot ingestion can be useful means to help prevent cancer.

In patients that had various forms of gastrit is and gastric cancer, it was found that beet juice may inhibit or enhance N-nit rosodimethylamine (NDMA) formation depending on the gastricjuice composition, pH in particular. In acid medium (pH-1.3-.4) there was a trend to inhibition of NDMA synthesis, while in neutral and alkline (pH = 7.4-8.5) medium NDMA synthesis is activated. N-nitrosodimethylamine is a nitrosamine and is a suspected human carcinogen.


Research published in the American Heart Association journal of Hypertension, showed that drinking 500 ml of beetroot juice led to a reduction in blood pressure within one hour. The reduction was more pronounced after three to four hours, and was measurable up to 24 hour after drinking the juice. The effect is attributed to the high nitrate content of the beetroot. The study correlated high nitrate concent rations in the blood following ingestion of the beetroot juice and the drop in blood pressure.

Dietary nitrate, such as that found in the beetroot, is thought to be a source for the biological messenger nitric oxide, which is used by the endothelium to signal smooth muscle, triggering it to relax. This induces vasodilatation and increased blood flow.

Otehr studies have found the positive effects beetroot juice can have on human exercise and performances. In studies conducted by the Exeter University, scientists found cyclists who drank a half litre of beetroot juice several hours before setting off were able to ride up to 20 percent longer than those who drank a placebo blackcurrant juice.

Adverse Reactions

Beetroot and especially beet greens contain high levels of oxalate and should be avoided by individuals with kidney stones containing oxalate.
Beetroot contains nitrates and when they are cooked and left standing at room temperature, microorganisms that convert nitrates to nitrites begin to multiply, and the amount of nitrites in the beetroot rises. The nitrites combine with amines in the stomach to form nitrosamines, some of which are known carcinogens.

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