Beetroot – much more than just a vegetable!
If you simply view beetroot as a boring vegetable that sometimes comes pickled in a jar, you could be really missing out. It is not just a deliciously earthy vegetable in its raw, juiced and cooked forms, it is also extremely nutritious, because it has such a high nutrient-to-calorie ratio, that it is generally considered to be a superfood.
Beetroot is a rich source of powerful antioxidants and a range of other beneficial nutrients, including:
- vitamin A
- vitamin B6
- vitamin C
- dietary fibre
- alkaline elements
- folic acid
- and dietary nitrate.
More about dietary nitrate
Beetroot has an unusually high level of dietary nitrate in comparison to other natural food sources. This is thought to be beneficial in a number of ways. For example, it is thought to be associated with supporting healthy blood pressure levels through the formation of nitric oxide in the blood.
This theory is supported by the study undertaken by the Bart’s and Royal London Hospital on the effects of nitrates on our bodies. They described nitric oxide as “a very powerful substance which is continually made by our blood vessels to keep our blood pressure low [and] …it is also made in large quantities by white cells in our bloodstream to fight infection.”
More about betaine
Beetroot is also high in betaine, a concentrated beetroot extract. Betaine is thought to support liver detoxification, the natural production of hormones in the body and the elimination of excess homocysteine (associated with a higher risk of heart disease) in the urine and blood.
More about antioxidants
Our bodies are continually exposed to toxins in one form or another. For example, in the air, in the water we drink and bathe in, in our houses and in our food. These toxins can lead to the production of free radicals in our bodies – harmful molecules, which are thought to contribute to the development of diseases, as well as the ageing process.
Antioxidants are natural substances which may help to stabilise free radicals, which are highly reactive.
Why athletes have started paying attention…
Studies have indicated that beetroot might have a range of positive effects on the body, particularly in terms of exercise and performance.
For instance, researchers at the University of Exeter in the UK found that the high levels of nitrate contained in the vegetable leads to a reduction in oxygen uptake, thereby making exercise less tiring. In fact, the results of the study suggested that beetroot boosts stamina and could help people exercise for up to 16% longer.