What Are Beets ?
- What Are Beets ?
- Health Benefits Of Beets
- Possible Side Effects Of Beets
Beets (beeroots) belong to the Chenopodiaceous vegetable plant family that originates 4,000 years ago in the Mediterranean area.
Beets are potent therapeutic vegetable due to high concentrations of vitamins, minerals, carotenoids, lutein, zeaxanthin, glycine, betaine, fibers, vitamin C, magnesium, iron, cooper, phosphor. They are, as blueberries, abundant in flavonoids such as anthocyanins.
The red colour of beets originates from the pigments named betalains. The most common subtypes of betalains are betacyanins and betaxanthins.
Beets consist of dietary fiber (11%), protein (3%), carbohydrate (3%), calories (2%), folate (27%), vitamin C (8%), vitamin B6 (3%), thiamin (2%), manganese (16%), potassium (9%), magnesium (6%), copper (4%).
Betain is found in beets. It protects various cell types, proteins and enzymes from biochemical injuries.
Betaine biochemical structure.
It is involved in the reduction of the inflammatory process, blood vessel damage and prevention of numerous chronic diseases. (1)
Health Benefits Of Beets
Beets are effective in decreasing the inflammatory processes throughout the body as well as blood pressure. They are great detoxifiers, stimulators of the immune system and may reduce the rate of the respiratory disorders.
Beets are high in potassium, copper, magnesium and vitamin A,K and C, thus are able to prevent certain chronic disorders such as type 2 diabetes and stroke.
Phytonutrients in beets, mainly betanin and vulgaxanthin have antioxidative, antiinflammatory and chemopreventive properties. Their detox function is mostly expressed in the second phase linked to glutathione.
Betaines in beets enhance the liver functions.
Beets are beneficial in the process of detoxifying the liver as well as the whole body due to high levels of betaine, betalains, fiber, iron, betacyanin, folate and pectin.
Particularly, betaine is protective of the liver and its bile ductuses. (2)
Beets are high in vitamin C and are helpful in preventing asthma exacerbations. It is as well abundant in beta carotene and may delay the onset of pulmonary carcinoma.
High vitamin C concentration acts as a powerful antioxidant against free radicals.
It stimulates the activity of white blood cells that eliminate foreign bodies and microorganism particles.
Beets extracts are good regimen for iron deficient anemia due to high iron content. There are high levels of phosphorous, magnesium, potassium, zinc, calcium, iodine, sulfur, copper , vitamin B1,B2, B6 and niacin in beets. Thus, it restores the number of red blood cells and increasing the oxygen concentration. (3)
Beets are high in dietary fibers, thus of extreme benefit for gastrointestinal functions. The fiber as well decrease the inflammatory processes in colorectum, gas accumulation, bloating and impaired bowel movements. (4)
Beets are rich in vitamin B9 (folate) which may decrease the risk of colorectal cancer.
High intake of beets might cause red stool, thus it should not make no concerns.
The mineral boron is present in beets and it stimulates the production of reproductive hormones.
Thus, it enhances libido, improves fertility and sperm mobility.
Due to a high levels of carbohydrates in beets, it is of great benefit in energy maintenance and physical endurance.
The oxygen uptake is enhanced in individuals that use beet juice due to high nitrate concentrations.
Researches have concluded that beets are able to prevent cancer of the skin, pulmonary tract and colorectum due to pigment betacyanins that inhibits cancer cell growth. (5)
Fibers in beets are effective in decreasing cholesterol and trygliceride levels via increasing the level of HDL cholesterol. Thus, such effect reduces the overall cardiovascular morbidity such as atherosclerosis, cardiac attacks and stroke.
Betaine is helpful in preventing the cardiovascular morbidity because it lowers the risk of cerebral and coronary artery disease and inflammatory processes in the body.
In the recent studies, it has been shown that high inorganic nitrate content may decrease systolic and diastolic blood pressure values. (6)
There is alpha-lipoic acid, an antioxidant that decreases the glucose levels. Thus, it increases insulin sensitivity and reverses the damage in the cardiovascular system due to an impaired glucose regulation.
Beets are helpful in lowering the inflammation in the affected joints in arthritis. Due to its alkaline composition, it is able to degrade the accumulated deposits in the vicinity of joints and surrounding tissues.
The phytonutrients in beets have antiinflammatory properties and are able to inhibit the activity of cyclo-oxygenase enzymes such as COX-1 and COX-2. Those enzymes are responsible for the initiation of an inflammatory response.
Beets are recommended in pregnancy due to to high level of vitamin B and folate. Those compounds are effective in reducing the congenital abnormalities such as spina bifida or neural tube disorders.
A form of vitamin A, beta carotene, may prevent the onset of cataract and macular degeneration.
The beta carotene , as well decreases or prevents the onset of macular degeneration.
Beets are helpful in preventing dementia due to the decreased blood flow in the brain. Such mechanism is a consequence of high nitrate concentration in beets.
Vitamin C and flavonoids in beets are responsible for the appropriate structure of capillaries.
In case of reduced potassium concentration, the risk of stroke is higher.
Thus, beets abundant in potassium leads to a vasodilatation and relaxation of blood vessels in the organism. It may even reduce the clot formation.(7)
Possible Side Effects Of Beets
1. Kidney/ Bladder Stones
Due to high oxalate concentration, there is an increased risk of kidney and bladder stone formation.
High intake of beet juice or raw products may lead to the change in colour of urine (pink or red). The condition is not dangerous, but it could indicate iron deficiency.
3. Hemochromatosis/Wilson Disease
Individuals with excessive iron or cooper levels should avoid beets and therefore prevent iron and cooper accumulation in the organism.
Beets juice extract ma decrease the calcium concentration in the organism. Consequently, it may lead to bone disorders, such as osteoporosis or metabolic disorders.
5. Speech Disorders
In certain individuals, high beets consumption may lead to the impaired vocal cords.
- Rasika Sunnadeniya,Tyrosine Hydroxylation in Betalain Pigment Biosynthesis Is Performed by Cytochrome P450 Enzymes in Beets (Beta vulgaris)PLoS One. 2016; 11(2): e0149417.
- Hatlestad GJ et al. The beet R locus encodes a new cytochrome P450 required for red betalain production.Nat Genet. 2012 Jun 3;44(7):816-20.
- Florian Stintzing. Functional properties of anthocyanins and betalains in plants, food, and in human nutrition. Food Science & Technology 15(1):19-38
- Bobek P et al. The effect of red beet (Beta vulgaris var. rubra) fiber on alimentary hypercholesterolemia and chemically induced colon carcinogenesis in rats.Nahrung. 2000 Jun;44(3):184-7.
- Nowacki L.Betanin-Enriched Red Beetroot (Beta vulgaris L.) Extract Induces Apoptosis and Autophagic Cell Death in MCF-7 Cells.Phytother Res. 2015 Dec;29(12):1964-73.
- Hobbs DA. The effects of dietary nitrate on blood pressure and endothelial function: a review of human intervention studies.Nutr Res Rev. 2013 Dec;26(2):210-22.
- Kazimierczak R. Beetroot (Beta vulgaris L.) and naturally fermented beetroot juices from organic and conventional production: metabolomics, antioxidant levels and anticancer activity.J Sci Food Agric. 2014 Oct;94(13):2618-29.