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Beetroot: Functional Food for Health Support

Beets are high in fiber, folate (vitamin B9), manganese, potassium, iron, and vitamin C.
beetroot health-promoting functional food

Overview

Beetroot (Beta vulgaris) contains essential vitamins, minerals, nutrients, and other bioavailable compounds, such as betaine, that provide numerous health benefits.

Key Benefits

  • Supports healthy blood lipids
  • Promotes healthy blood pressure and endothelial function
  • Supports athletic performance
  • Reduces oxidative stress
  • Reduces inflammation

History of Usage

Scientific interest in beetroot has gained momentum in the past few decades, but reports of its use as a natural medicine date back to Roman times. Currently, beets are grown in many countries around the world, consumed regularly as part of a healthy diet, and manufactured as the food coloring E162. Scientists have also discovered that beetroot contains several bioactive compounds that provide health benefits, particularly for disorders caused by chronic inflammation. 

Biochemistry

Beetroot powder contains betaine phytochemicals that support the proper functioning of the cardiovascular system and help process amino acids in the kidneys and liver. It is a rich source of chlorine, iodine, iron, magnesium, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, copper, sodium, riboflavin, thiamine, vitamins, and fiber that can support the blood’s oxygen content. 

Studies have provided evidence that beetroot may help hypertension, atherosclerosis, type 2 diabetes, and dementia. Hypertension in particular has been the target of many therapeutic interventions and there are numerous studies showing how beetroot reduces systolic and diastolic blood pressure. 

In addition to the betaine family, other antioxidants have been identified in beetroot, including epicatechin, rutin, and caffeic acid, which are well absorbed and bioavailable in humans. Beetroot also contains apigenin flavonoids, namely vitexin, vitexin-2-O-rhamnoside, and vitexin-2-O-xyloside, which show antiproliferative activity on cancer cell lines. Betalains, which are natural food dyes and have anti-cancer properties, are secondary metabolites found in beetroot.

Recent Trends

The global beetroot powder market size is forecast to obtain a value of $25 billion by the end of 2026 at a CAGR of 4.9% during the same period.

The demand for beetroot in the food and beverage sector is increasing. It can be used as a food colorant and flavor enhancer, as well as in nutritional supplements. Beetroot powder is used in cosmetics, such as creams, lotions, face masks, scrubs, lip balm, and lip gloss.

Beetroot is a functional food for health support, popular with athletes since it helps improve performance and reduce muscle pain. 

Precautions

  • Pregnant and nursing women should consult with their healthcare professional before taking beetroot products. 
  • Beetroot is high in oxalates. High intake can result in kidney stones. 
  • Side effects may include: beeturia or red colored urine, discolored stools, allergic reactions, upset stomach.
References
  1. Clifford T, Howatson G, West DJ, Stevenson EJ. The potential benefits of red beetroot supplementation in health and disease. Nutrients. 2015;7(4):2801-2822. Published 2015 Apr 14. doi:10.3390/nu7042801
  2. Ninfali P., Angelino D. Nutritional and functional potential of Beta vulgaris cicla and rubra. Fitoterapia. 2013;89:188–199. doi: 10.1016/j.fitote.2013.06.004.
  3. Georgiev V.G., Weber J., Kneschke E.M., Denev P.N., Bley T., Pavlov A.I. Antioxidant activity and phenolic content of betalain extracts from intact plants and hairy root cultures of the red beetroot Beta vulgaris cv. Detroit dark red. Plant Foods Hum. Nutr. 2010;65:105–111. doi: 10.1007/s11130-010-0156-6.
  4. Lundberg J.O., Weitzberg E., Gladwin M.T. The nitrate-nitrite-nitric oxide pathway in physiology and therapeutics. Nat. Rev. 2008;7:156–167. 
  5.  Gilchrist M., Winyard P.G., Fulford J., Anning C., Shore A.C., Benjamin N. Dietary nitrate supplementation improves reaction time in type 2 diabetes: Development and application of a novel nitrate-depleted beetroot juice placebo. Nitric Oxide. 2014;40:67–74. doi: 10.1016/j.niox.2014.05.003.
  6. Vanhatalo A., Bailey S.J., Blackwell J.R., di Menna F.J., Pavey T.G., Wilkerson D.P., Benjamin N., Winyard P.G., Jones A.M. Acute and chronic effects of dietary nitrate supplementation on blood pressure and the physiological responses to moderate-intensity and incremental exercise. Am. J. Physiol. -Reg. I. 2010;299:1121–1131.
  7. Wootton-Beard P.C., Brandt K., Fell D., Warner S., Ryan L. Effects of a beetroot juice with high neobetanin content on the early-phase insulin response in healthy volunteers. J. Nutr. Sci. 2011;3:1–9. Bailey S.J., Winyard P., Vanhatalo A., Blackwell J.R., Dimenna F.J.,
  8. Wilkerson D.P., Tarr J., Benjamin N., Jones A.M. Dietary nitrate supplementation reduces the O2 cost of low-intensity exercise and enhances tolerance to high-intensity exercise in humans. J. Appl. Physiol. 2009;107:1144–1155. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.00722.2009.
  9. Jajja A., Sutyarjoko A., Lara J., Rennie K., Brandt K., Qadir O., Siervo M. Beetroot supplementation lowers daily systolic blood pressure in older, overweight subjects. Nutr. Res. 2014;34:1–8. doi: 10.1016/j.nutres.2014.09.007. 
  10. ​​Ninfali P, Angelino D. Nutritional and functional potential of Beta vulgaris cicla and rubra. Fitoterapia. 2013 Sep;89:188-99. doi: 10.1016/j.fitote.2013.06.004. Epub 2013 Jun 7. PMID: 23751216.
  11. Larsen FJ, Schiffer TA, Borniquel S, Sahlin K, Ekblom B, Lundberg JO, Weitzberg E. Dietary inorganic nitrate improves mitochondrial efficiency in humans. Cell Metab. 2011 Feb 2;13(2):149-59. doi: 10.1016/j.cmet.2011.01.004. PMID: 21284982.
  12. Bailey SJ, Winyard P, Vanhatalo A, Blackwell JR, Dimenna FJ, Wilkerson DP, Tarr J, Benjamin N, Jones AM. Dietary nitrate supplementation reduces the O2 cost of low-intensity exercise and enhances tolerance to high-intensity exercise in humans. J Appl Physiol (1985). 2009 Oct;107(4):1144-55.