Beetroot 101 – Nutrition Facts, Health Benefits & Its Multiple Uses

beetroot

Beetroot is scientifically known as Beta Vulgaris and Shamandar in middle eastern countries. (1)

Its domestication dates back to Neolithic times and is probably among the first green leafy plants to be consumed by mankind.

Did you know?

The ancient Greeks held beetroot in high esteem and included in the offerings to the sun god, Apollo in his temple at Delphi, reckoning its worth its own weight in silver. (2)

They come in different varieties which are distinguished by their colour: red, white, golden or striped. (3)

What’s covered here:

Nutrition Facts

Beetroot in its raw form contains approximately 87.6% water, 9.6% carbs, 1.6% protein, 0.2% fats and 2.8% fiber. (4)

You will be glad to know that a 100g of cooked beetroot has only 44 calories. (5)

The table below will show you the nutrition breakdown of beetroot:

Beetroot Nutritional Data
Beetroot Nutritional Data

Beetroot consists of 8-10% carbohydrates of which 70% are simple sugars like glucose and fructose.

It is a source of fructans which may cause digestive issues in some folks.

A glycemic index (GI) of 64 and load of 4 means that it will not have a major effect on your blood sugar. (38)

It is a rich source of fiber that aids in the protection of your body from many diseases and chronic issues. (39)

Beetroots are rich sources of several vitamins and minerals like folate, manganese, potassium, iron and vitamin C which are essential for the optimal functioning of your body.

It also contains other beneficial plant compounds like betanin, inorganic nitrate and vulgaxanthin. (31)

Health Benefits of Beetroot

Beetroot Juice

Beetroot has been well-researched to provide many health benefits like the ones described below: –

1. Oxidative Stress

The consumption of beetroot has been shown to strengthen endogenous antioxidant defenses which protect your cells from oxidative damage with its rich source of antioxidant compounds.

They include betalain pigments, highly bioactive phenolics like rutin, epicatechin and caffeic acid.

It contains nitrite compounds which are known to provide similar benefits.

Consuming beetroot in juice form protects your body from oxidative damage to your DNA, lipid and protein structures. (6)

Recent studies have revealed that betanin, the red food colour (E162) extract approved by FDA may be effective in suppressing the growth of multi-organ tumors in prostate and breast. (7, 8)

2. Inflammation

Inflammation is considered a normal biological response to infection, trauma and other pathogens.

However, persistent inflammation that do not resolve may lead to undesirable health consequences. (9, 10, 11)

Beetroot has emerged as potent anti-inflammatory agents which has led to its potential use in immune cell function related diseases. (6)

3. Endothelial Function

The nitrate content in beetroot is metabolised in nitrite, which can be further reduced to produce Nitric Oxide (NO). (12, 13)

NO plays a key role in maintaining your endothelial function by regulating the activities of your inner blood vessel lining.

The depletion of NO has been identified as a leading cause of endothelial dysfunction as we age. (6)

Drinking 500 ml of beetroot juice has been shown to preserve endothelial function. (14)

4. Lower Blood Pressure

Lower systolic blood pressure (SBF) was observed in a study involving 15 men and 15 women who consumed 500 g of beetroot and apple juice after 6 hours.

A significant reduction of 4 – 5 mmHg in SBF was observed in men.

This suggests that healthy men could supplement their regular diet with beetroot juice to lower their blood pressure. (15)

This evidence is backed up by more clinical trials conducted between 2006 and 2012 which involved a total of 254 participants. (16)

5. Cognitive Function

A reduction in cognitive function is evident due to a decrease in cerebral blood flow as we age. (17, 18, 19)

One of the main triggers for this phenomenon is impaired Nitric Oxide (NO) activitiy.

This could lead to neurodegeneration and cognitive deficits. (20)

Therefore, the addition of a NO generator like beetroot in your diet could potentially improve your cerebral blood flow and cognitive function. (6)

6. Improves Fitness Performance

The consumption of whole beetroot (200 g), as opposed to other nitrate sources, has been shown to boost a person’s running capacity on a treadmill by 5%. (21)

A single dose of beetroot juice (70 ml) has been researched to enhance cycling performance in time-trial and at high altitudes. (22)

Besides enhancing cycling and running performance, consumption of beetroot juice boosts cardiorespiratory endurance in athletes by increasing the time to exhaustion. (23)

Beetroot juice may be consumed as a post-workout beverage to recover certain aspects of your dynamic muscle function in team sports which involve a lot of short sprints. (24)

It may enhance the performance of individuals who participate in intermittent exercises. (25)

How To Grow Your Own Beetroot?

Beetroot is one of the most reliable vegetables to grow from seed, and the young leaves (eat raw, in salads) are a bonus crop.

Growing Beets from Sowing to Harvest

Best Varieties

“Boltardy” is probably the most widely available and reliable variety, and produces the classic red colour.

“Detroit Dark Red” and “Sanguina” are the sweeter and less earthy options.

Planting

Sow seeds in early spring, and at intervals until early summer, direct into a drill or pot in an open, sunny site.

Thin once the baby beets have reached an edible size and leave the rest to grow a little bigger.

Aim for 5 – 10 / 2 – 4 inches between each plant.

Rows should be 20 cm / 8 inches apart.

Maintenance

Weed and water as necessary.

Keep an eye out for slugs and snails.

Harvest

Harvesting beetroot

Use the thinnings first, but do not let the remaining roots get too big, as they lose both sweetness and tenderness the larger they grow.

Harvest when the beets are bigger than a golf ball but smaller than a tennis ball. (26)

How To Pick Beetroot?

The best ones are dark in colour with a smooth surface.

Small ones are more flavourful while bigger ones will become soft, fibrous or wrinkled.

Eat them fresh to receive the most nutrients. (27)

How To Store Them?

Beetroot generally last for a few weeks unless they are stored in a cool place such as a root cellar in sand or sawdust. (34)

I personally store them in the fridge.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How many calories are there in beetroot?

    Depending on how your beetroot is prepared, it may range anywhere from 31 to 65 calories for every 100 grams consumed. (4, 5)

  • Is beetroot a fruit or a vegetable?

    It is considered a root vegetable and not a fruit. (29)

  • Does consuming beetroot causes my urine to turn red?

    This condition is known as beeturia and is commonly seen in 10 – 14% of the population who has iron deficiency and malabsorption. (30)

  • Where can I buy beetroot juice?

    Amazon is a great place to shop for beetroot juice for an affordable price of $0.17/fl oz.

  • Can you eat raw beetroot?

    Absolutely! You can add them to salads with a little dressing to consume them raw. (31)

  • What is beetroot good for?

    It is good for your blood pressure, fitness performance, protects your body from oxidation stress and inflammation, improves cognitive and endothelial functions. (6, 13)

  • Beetroot good for blood?

    Since regular consumption of beetroot lowers your systolic blood pressure, it is good for your blood health. (6)

  • Where can I find beetroot?

    You can easily find them in your local grocery stores or even supermarkets.

  • How to consume beetroot?

    Beetroot can be consumed in many ways. You can add them to your dishes, consume them raw, use them in your pastries, in juice powder, capsules or in raw forms.

References

  1. El Gamal, A. A., AlSaid, M. S., Raish, M., Al-Sohaibani, M., Al-Massarani, S. M., Ahmad, A., Hefnawy, M., Al-Yahya, M., Basoudan, O. A., & Rafatullah, S. (2014). Beetroot (beta vulgaris L.) extract ameliorates gentamicin-induced nephrotoxicity associated oxidative stress, inflammation, and apoptosis in rodent model. Mediators of inflammation. Retrieved February 3, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4221885/

  2. Bloomsbury Publishing. (2017). In Super Food: Beetroot (pp. 7–9). essay.

  3. Beet varieties. Garden.org. (n.d.). Retrieved February 3, 2022, from https://garden.org/learn/articles/view/604/

  4. Fooddata Central Search Results. FoodData Central. (n.d.). Retrieved February 3, 2022, from https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/169145/nutrients

  5. Fooddata Central Search Results. FoodData Central. (n.d.). Retrieved February 3, 2022, from https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/169146/nutrients

  6. Clifford, T., Howatson, G., West, D. J., & Stevenson, E. J. (2015, April 14). The potential benefits of red beetroot supplementation in Health and Disease. Nutrients. Retrieved February 3, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4425174/

  7. Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. (n.d.). Summary of color additives for use in the United States. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Retrieved February 3, 2022, from https://www.fda.gov/ForIndustry/ColorAdditives/ColorAdditiveInventories/ucm115641.htm

  8. Kapadia, G. J., Azuine, M. A., Rao, G. S., Arai, T., Iida, A., & Tokuda, H. (2011, March). Cytotoxic effect of the red beetroot (beta vulgaris L.) extract compared to doxorubicin (adriamycin) in the human prostate (PC-3) and breast (MCF-7) cancer cell lines. Anti-cancer agents in medicinal chemistry. Retrieved February 5, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21434853

  9. Monteiro, R., & Azevedo, I. (2010). Chronic inflammation in obesity and the metabolic syndrome. Mediators of inflammation. Retrieved February 5, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2913796/

  10. Ricciotti, E., & FitzGerald, G. A. (2011, May). Prostaglandins and inflammation. Arteriosclerosis, thrombosis, and vascular biology. Retrieved February 5, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3081099/

  11. Yoon, J.-H., & Baek, S. J. (2005, October 31). Molecular targets of dietary polyphenols with anti-inflammatory properties. Yonsei medical journal. Retrieved February 5, 2022, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2562783/

  12. Lundberg, J. O., Weitzberg, E., & Gladwin, M. T. (2008, February). The nitrate-nitrite-nitric oxide pathway in physiology and therapeutics. Nature reviews. Drug discovery. Retrieved February 5, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18167491

  13. Hobbs DA;Kaffa N;George TW;Methven L;Lovegrove JA; (n.d.). Blood pressure-lowering effects of beetroot juice and novel beetroot-enriched bread products in normotensive male subjects. The British journal of nutrition. Retrieved February 5, 2022, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22414688/

  14. Webb, A. J., Patel, N., Loukogeorgakis, S., Okorie, M., Aboud, Z., Misra, S., Rashid, R., Miall, P., Deanfield, J., Benjamin, N., MacAllister, R., Hobbs, A. J., & Ahluwalia, A. (2008, March). Acute blood pressure lowering, vasoprotective, and antiplatelet properties of dietary nitrate via bioconversion to nitrite. Hypertension (Dallas, Tex. : 1979). Retrieved February 5, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2839282/

  15. Coles, L. T., & Clifton, P. M. (2012, December 11). Effect of beetroot juice on lowering blood pressure in free-living, disease-free adults: A randomized, placebo-controlled trial. Nutrition journal. Retrieved February 5, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3545899/

  16. Siervo, M., Lara, J., Ogbonmwan, I., & Mathers, J. C. (2013, June). Inorganic nitrate and beetroot juice supplementation reduces blood pressure in adults: A systematic review and meta-analysis. The Journal of nutrition. Retrieved February 5, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23596162

  17. Bond, V., Curry, B. H., Adams, R. G., Asadi, M. S., Millis, R. M., & Haddad, G. E. (2013). Effects of dietary nitrates on systemic and cerebrovascular hemodynamics. Cardiology research and practice. Retrieved February 5, 2022, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24455404

  18. Spilt, A., Weverling-Rijnsburger, A. W. E., Middelkoop, H. A. M., van Der Flier, W. M., Gussekloo, J., de Craen, A. J. M., Bollen, E. L. E. M., Blauw, G. J., van Buchem, M. A., & Westendorp, R. G. J. (2005, September). Late-onset dementia: Structural brain damage and total cerebral blood flow. Radiology. Retrieved February 5, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16014443

  19. Bondonno, C. P., Downey, L. A., Croft, K. D., Scholey, A., Stough, C., Yang, X., Considine, M. J., Ward, N. C., Puddey, I. B., Swinny, E., Mubarak, A., & Hodgson, J. M. (2014, May). The acute effect of flavonoid-rich apples and nitrate-rich spinach on cognitive performance and mood in healthy men and women. Food & function. Retrieved February 5, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24676365

  20. de la Torre, J. C., & Stefano, G. B. (2000, December). Evidence that alzheimer’s disease is a microvascular disorder: The role of constitutive nitric oxide. Brain research. Brain research reviews. Retrieved February 5, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11113503

  21. Murphy, M., Eliot, K., Heuertz, R. M., & Weiss, E. (2012, April). Whole beetroot consumption acutely improves running performance. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Retrieved February 5, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22709704

  22. Muggeridge, D. J., Howe, C. C. F., Spendiff, O., Pedlar, C., James, P. E., & Easton, C. (2014, January). A single dose of beetroot juice enhances cycling performance in simulated altitude. Medicine and science in sports and exercise. Retrieved February 5, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23846159

  23. Domínguez, R., Cuenca, E., Maté-Muñoz, J. L., García-Fernández, P., Serra-Paya, N., Estevan, M. C. L., Herreros, P. V., & Garnacho-Castaño, M. V. (2017, January 6). Effects of beetroot juice supplementation on cardiorespiratory endurance in athletes. A systematic review. Nutrients. Retrieved February 5, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5295087/

  24. Clifford, T., Berntzen, B., Davison, G. W., West, D. J., Howatson, G., & Stevenson, E. J. (2016, August 18). Effects of beetroot juice on recovery of muscle function and performance between bouts of repeated sprint exercise. Nutrients. Retrieved February 5, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4997419/

  25. Wylie, L. J., Bailey, S. J., Kelly, J., Blackwell, J. R., Vanhatalo, A., & Jones, A. M. (2016, February). Influence of Beetroot Juice Supplementation on intermittent exercise performance. European journal of applied physiology. Retrieved February 5, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26614506

  26. Farrell, H., & Ingram, J. (2016). In Grow your own cake: Recipes from plot to plate (pp. 90–92). essay, Frances Lincoln.

  27. Harvesting beets: How and when to harvest beets. (n.d.). Retrieved February 5, 2022, from https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/edible/vegetables/beets/harvesting-beets.htm

  28. Bloomsbury Publishing. (2017). Super Food: Beetroot. (pp: 14-15).

  29. Bjarnadottir, A. (2019, March 8). Beetroot 101: Nutrition Facts and health benefits. Healthline. Retrieved February 5, 2022, from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/foods/beetroot#section1

  30. Watts AR;Lennard MS;Mason SL;Tucker GT;Woods HF; (n.d.). Beeturia and the biological fate of beetroot pigments. Pharmacogenetics. Retrieved February 5, 2022, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8148871/

  31. How to cook beets (or use them raw). VegKitchen. (2021, April 7). Retrieved February 5, 2022, from https://www.vegkitchen.com/how-to-cook-beets-or-use-them-raw/

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