Beetroot Healing Effects

Beet leaves are highly nutritious and are high in calcium, iron and vitamins A and C. Beetroot is an excellent source of betaine, which is an anti-inflammatory made of the B-group vitamin choline attached to three methyl groups. Beetroot is also a great source of soluble fibre and antioxidants.

In recent times, a lot of research on beetroot has centred around the fact that it is a good source of nitrate, which increases the levels of the gas nitric oxide in circulation and this in turn keeps blood vessels open (dilates them) which reduces blood pressure.

Beets are also a unique source of nutrients called betalains. Betanin and vulgaxanthin are the two best-studied betalains from beets, and both have been shown to provide antioxidant, anti- inflammatory and detoxification support. Although you can see these betalain pigments in other foods (such as the stems of silver beet or rhubarb), the concentration of betalains in the peel and flesh of beets is extremely high by comparison.


Beet chemicals reduce inflammation by blocking the inflammatory COX-1 and COX-2 enzymes.

The betalains found in beets have been shown to trigger glutathione-S-transferase enzymes (GSTs). Glutathione is involved in the “hook-up” phase of detoxification in your body where waste substances are made water-soluble for excretion in urine.

Reducing blood pressure
A study on beetroot juice compared people with high blood pressure who drank 250mL of beetroot juice to those who took nitrate tablets. The researchers found that within 24 hours both groups had significant reductions in blood pressure. This suggests it’s the nitrate in beetroot juice that is producing the blood-pressure-lowering effect. The fact that only 250mL of juice is needed to achieve the effect suggests that beetroot juice can be a first-step natural approach to lowering blood pressure.

Anti-ageing effects on the brain
In a study, researchers asked subjects to fast for 10 hours and then report to the lab for breakfast. The subjects were then given one of two breakfasts, one of which included 450mL of beetroot juice. Then one hour after the breakfast a magnetic resonance image (MRI) was used to track blood flow in the subjects’ brains. The MRIs showed that after drinking the beetroot juice there was an increase in blood flow to white matter in the frontal lobes of the brains: the areas associated with dementia and loss of other mental functions. The reason beetroot juice had this effect was again due to its high nitrate content.

Beetroot boosts exercise
In recent times, there have been studies suggesting that athletes can exercise for up to 16 per cent longer when they drink beetroot juice on a daily basis, again because of beet’s nitrate content. Cyclists given beetroot juice were on average 11 seconds faster over a 4km distance and 45 seconds faster over a 16km distance.

In another study, the aim was to see whether non-athletes — people who undertake low-intensity exercise like walking — might also benefit from beetroot juice. To this end, the researchers developed two beetroot drinks: one normal beetroot drink and another with the nitrate filtered out. Subjects then were given one of the two drinks on a daily basis and their ability to walk was measured. The results showed that those on the normal beetroot juice used less oxygen while walking, effectively reducing the effort it took to walk by 12 per cent. No such effect occurred in the juice with the nitrate removed.
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