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Sep 30, 2012

What are the Health Benefits of Beetroot?

  1. Boosts Stamina: A study conducted at the University of Exeter suggests that drinking beetroot juice can boost stamina, allowing people to exercise for up to 16 percent longer. The researchers found that the nitrate content of the beetroot leads to a reduction in oxygen uptake, thereby making exercise less tiring. Although the researchers are not sure of the exact mechanism, but they suspect that it could be a result of the nitrate turning into nitric oxide in the body, reducing how much oxygen is burned up by exercise. The findings could be of interest to people with cardiovascular, respiratory or metabolic diseases, and endurance athletes.
  2. Reduces Blood Pressure: Another study conducted at Queen Mary University of London and published online in the American Heart Association journal Hypertension found that people who drank beetroot juice or took nitrate tablets had their blood pressure lowered within 24 hours. According to researchers, the nitrate content of beetroot juice is the underlying cause of its blood pressure lowering benefits. The nitrates are converted into nitrites by the action of saliva, and these nitrites help in lowering the blood pressure. The researchers also found that only a small amount of the beetroot juice (250 ml) is needed to have this effect.
  3. Lowers the Blood Cholesterol Level: A study on rats has shown that beet fiber, along with its folate content, can help reduce the blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
  4. Lowers the Risk of Cardiovascular Diseases: Beetroot contains betaine, which lowers the homocysteine levels and protects against various cardiovascular diseases. Excessive homocysteine is associated to inflammation of the blood vessels. Betaine is basically choline, which helps in lowering the homocysteine level, thereby protecting against cardiovascular diseases. Betaine is also associated with lower levels of other inflammatory factors like C-reactive protein (CRP - causes artery-damaging inflammation), interleukin-6 (IL-6) and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-A).
  5. Prevents Osteoporosis: Magnesium is required for the appropriate utilization of calcium for the proper maintenance of bones. Beetroot contains magnesium, and hence, it can help in the prevention of osteoporosis. But beet greens should be avoided as they are high in oxalic acid and interfere in the absorption of calcium.
  6. Protects Against Liver Disease: Few preliminary studies on both rats and humans suggest that betaine, a nutrient found in beetroot, may help protect against liver disease - particularly the build up of fatty deposits in the liver, which can occur from alcohol abuse, obesity, protein deficiency, diabetes, and other causes. The nutrient also increases stomach acidity, thereby helping people with hypochlorhydria (a condition causing abnormally low levels of stomach acid).
  7. Acts as a Laxative: Beet root is a natural laxative and it helps in conditions like constipation and hemorrhoids.
  8. Used in Jaundice: Beetroot juice is considered good in conditions like jaundice, during which the body needs fluids and carbs.
  9. Contains Antioxidants: Beetroot has betacyanin, an antioxidant, which helps in cognitive diseases like Alzheimer's disease and senile dementia. The antioxidant removes the free radicals that damage the brain cells or the cells of other organs. The colon cancer research also states that the antioxidant property of beetroot helps in treating colon cancer by promoting the growth of CD8 cells which can detect and remove the abnormal cells. In a recent lab study on human tumor cell, Betanin (an antioxidant in beet) was seen to lessen the growth of tumor cells through multiple mechanism. The tumor cells used in these studies were from colon, nerve, lung, breast, prostate, stomach and testicles. These studies are not enough to declare beet as an anti-cancer food but the results are encouraging. Further researches are still required in this field.