Beetroot is a well-known root vegetable which is also known as red beet, garden beet, table beet, or just beet.
Having ample essential nutrients, this vegetable is an excellent source of, manganese, fiber, folate, potassium, iron, and vitamin C.
Beetroots have been associated with several health benefits, such as lower blood pressure, improved blood flow and exercise performance. These benefits are because of high content of inorganic nitrates.
Beetroots are very delicious raw but commonly cooked and pickled. Their leaves can also be eaten. There are many types of beetroots, which are distinguished by their color.
Beetroot: Best source of nutrients
Cooked or raw, beetroot contains about 8 to 10 percent carbs. Simple sugars like glucose or fructose constitutes 70% and 80% of carbs in raw and cooked forms, respectively. Beetroots are also a great source of fructans.
Beetroots have the glycemic index (GI) score of 61. The GI shows how fast blood sugar level rises after a meal. The glycemic load of beetroot is 5, which is low. This shows that beetroots might not have a major impact on blood sugar levels as the total carb amount per serving is low.
Vitamins and minerals
Beetroots are one of the best sources of various essential vitamins and minerals.
- Folate: It is one of the B vitamins and is important for cell function and normal tissue growth. It is particularly necessary for a pregnant woman.
- Manganese: It is an important trace element and is found in high amount in legumes, whole grains, vegetables, and fruits.
- Potassium: A diet rich in potassium may lead to reduced blood pressure level and positive impacts on heart health.
- Iron: It is an essential mineral, which has many vital functions in the body. It is required for the transport of oxygen in the red blood cells.
- Vitamin C: It is a popular vitamin which also acts as an antioxidant and is important for the immune system and skin health.
Beetroots are rich in fiber and provide about 2 to 3 grams in each three-fourth cup raw serving.
Dietary fiber is essential as part of the healthy diet and associated with reduced risk of various diseases. Plant compounds are natural plant chemicals which may boost health.
The major plant compounds in beetroot are:
- Betanin: These are the most common pigment in beetroots and are responsible for their red color. It is believed to possess various health benefits.
- Inorganic nitrate: Found in large amounts in leafy vegetables, beetroot juice, beetroots, inorganic nitrate converts into nitric oxide in the body and has many vital functions.
- Vulgaxanthin: It is a yellow or orange pigment in beetroots or yellow beets.
Health benefits of beetroot
1. Increases exercise capacity
Several studies have suggested that nitrates can increase physical performance, especially during endurance exercise. Dietary nitrates help reduce oxygen use during physical exercise by impacting the efficiency of mitochondria, a cell organelle that produces energy.
Beet and its juice are commonly used because of high inorganic nitrate content. Consumption of beetroot may improve running ability and cycling performance, boost oxygen use, increase stamina, and lead to improved exercise performance overall.
2. Lowers blood pressure
High blood pressure may damage your blood vessel and heart. Not only this, it is one of the strongest risk factors for heart diseases, premature death, and stroke. Eating lots of vegetables and fruits rich in inorganic nitrates might cut the risk of heart diseases by decreasing blood pressure and increasing the formation of nitric oxide.
Studies also show that beetroots and their juice may reduce blood pressure by 3 to 10 mm Hg for a few hours. Such effects are due to increased level of nitric oxide, which can cause the blood vessels to continuously relax and dilate.
3. Helps fight inflammation
Chronic inflammation is often linked to a number of diseases like heart disease, obesity, liver disease, and cancer. Beets have pigments called betalains that might potentially have several anti-inflammatory properties. However, mostly research in this field has been conducted in rats.
Beetroot juice and extract have been found to reduce kidney inflammation in rat injected with toxic chemicals that can induce serious injury. A study in humans having osteoarthritis revealed that betalain capsules made of beetroot extract helps reduce pain and discomfort related to the condition.
While these studies show that beets have various anti-inflammatory effects, human studies are yet to determine if beets are effective in reducing inflammation.
4. Improves digestive health
Dietary fiber is an important element of healthy diet. It has been associated with several health benefits, such as improved digestion. A cup of beetroot has 3.4 grams of fiber, which makes beets the best source of fiber.
Fiber improves digestion and moves down to colon, where it either provides food to the gut bacteria or provides bulk to the stool. This can evidently promote digestive health, keep you healthy, and prevent digestive disorders like constipation, diverticulitis, and inflammatory bowel disease. Also, fiber is linked to less risk of chronic conditions like heart disease, colon cancer, and type 2 diabetes.
5. Supports brain health
Cognitive and mental functions decline with age. For some people, this decline is important and can result in diseases like dementia. A reduction in oxygen supply and blood flow to the brain can contribute to this decline.
The nitrates in beets can improve cognitive and mental function by dilating the blood vessels, hence increasing blood flow to the brain. Beets have been found to improve circulation to the frontal lobe of brain, an area linked to higher-level thinking like working memory and decision making.
6. Helps lose weight
Beets have many nutritional properties that can make them best food for weight loss. At first place, beets are very low in calories and high in water content. Increasing your consumption of low-calorie foods such as fruits and vegetables are associated with weight loss. Also, despite their low calorie content, beet contains moderate amount of protein and fiber. These are both important nutrients for achieving and maintaining a healthy weight
Beets provide many impressive health benefits. They are a great source of nutrients, such as fiber, vitamin C, and folate. Beets also have nitrates and pigments which help lower blood pressure and improve athletic performance.
Finally, beets are tasty and versatile, fitting very well into a healthy, balanced diet.