Why is Beetroot Good for You

Beetroot

Beetroot is a vegetable renowned for having many health properties.  It is rich in minerals and vitamins, low in fat and has gained in popularity as a new super food due to recent studies claiming that beets and beetroot juice can improve athletic performance, lower blood pressure, and increase blood flow.

From a dietary perspective, beetroot is extremely low in fat and yet strongly flavoured so it adds impact to any meal without adding calories.  It can also be eaten raw or juiced, which means you get the maximum amount of nutrients and enzymes from this humble superfood.

Beetroot Varieties

Beetroot is from the same family as sugar beets but are genetically and nutritionally different.  There are four main types of beet (Beta vulgaris).  The type we know best is Garden beet (Conditiva variety), also known as beet and table beet, of which the root is used as a vegetable.  You may also have heard of Swiss chard (Vulgaris variety), which is also known as leaf beet and silver beet, of which the leaves are eaten as a vegetable.  Sugar beet (Altissima variety), is also a type of beet and is used to produce refined sugar.  Lastly we have Mangelwurzel (Alba variety), also known as mangold, field beet, fodder beet, root of scarcity, and which is used in animal feed.

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Beetroot, Beets, Beet – All Good Stuff

Garden beet is commonly referred to as beetroot, beets or beet.  The most popular form of Garden beetroot is red beetroot, even though it’s actually purple(!).  Red beetroot has several different sub classes: spherical, elongated and intermediate. In addition to red beet, there are 3 other types of beetroot: white beetroot, golden beetroot and chioggia beetroot.

Red BeetrootWhite Beetroot
Golden BeetrootChioggia Beetroot

Red beetroot is used in many cuisines around the world. It’s dark purple/red colour adds vibrancy to any recipe and this sweet, earthy root adds a depth of flavour to soups and stews or served cold with salads.

Although we normally eat only the root of red beetroot, its stalks and leaves are also edible. Beetroot stalks and leaves have a mildly earthy flavour similar to the roots. To cook, you treat the stalks and leaves like chard or spinach, which can be steamed and tossed in olive oil and lemon juice, but they are also delicious in soups and stir fries.

Is Beetroot Good for You?

Beetroot Soup
Although beetroot is renowned for its reputation to affect blood pressure there are many more properties that make people want to eat it or drink it’s juice.  They are low in calories and a great source of nutrients, including fibre, folate and vitamin C. Beets also contain nitrates and pigments that some studies have shown to have an effect on health.

Raw Beetroot

Beetroot SaladRaw beetroot is a great way to add sweet crunchiness and colour to your meal. Raw beets can be peeled and finely chopped or grated and used to make pink coleslaw or added to salads. With its growing popularity, many people are now adding raw beetroot into their smoothies along with fresh red fruit such as strawberries and raspberries with some mint.

Why Beetroot Juice?

Beetroot Juice

Beetroot juice is a good source of potassium, vitamin C and a whole host of other minerals including calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorous, zinc, copper and selenium.  The UK’s National Health service recently reviewed beetroot juice and you can read about it here.

Beetroot juice may boost stamina so you can exercise for longer and may also improve blood flow and lower blood pressure.

In one study, people who drank beet juice for 6 days had better stamina during intense exercise. In other studies, drinking about 2 cups of beet juice every day or taking nitrate capsules lowered blood pressure in healthy adults.

How Beetroot Juice Works

Beetroot juice is rich in nitrates which your body converts into nitric oxide.  The first stage is that the nitrates get converted to nitrites in your mouth with your gram positive (pro-biotic) cultures that are naturally present.  Then once you swallow these nitrites, they get converted into nitric oxide.  Nitric oxide helps with blood flow and blood pressure.  One important point to bear in mind is that if you use mouth wash or chew chewing gum the nitrates in beetroot juice do not get converted.

Beetroot Juice in Sealed Container

Storing Goodness in Beetroot Juice

Fresh juice, such as beetroot juice should not be stored for a long time.  This is because the nutrients in any juice start to oxidise the moment the cell walls are broken down during the juicing process and the juice is exposed to air (oxygen).  The best way to store goodness in beetroot juice is to transfer it to a glass container with a lid immediately after juicing.  Also you must ensure that the container is as full as possible with juice, to minimise the amount of air that is left inside the container.  Freshly squeezed juice stored in such a container which is placed in the fridge can keep the juice in relatively good condition for 24-48 hours.

How Much Beetroot Juice do I Need?

This depends on your activity levels.  There are athletes that take 500ml beetroot juice before a competition as a one-off high dose.  However, typical amounts consumed range from 30ml to 200ml.  Depending on the efficiency of your juicer, 30ml juice is the equivalent of approximately 100ml raw beetroot.  There is no recommended daily dose for beetroot juice.

Is Pickled Beetroot Good for You?

Pickled BeetrootPickled beets can be full of sugar so do read the ingredients before enjoying in abundance.  Pickled beetroot does retain some of the nutrients present in raw beetroot but the pasteurisation process tends to destroy most of the enzyme activity and water soluble vitamins so it’s better to see pickled beetroot as a delicious addition to any meal rather than a health supplement.  Pickled beetroot that is low in sugar is a flavoursome addition to your meals and salads and typically 1 cup of pickled beets has about 75 calories, 18 to 20 grams of carbohydrates and 2 grams of protein.

Beetroot Powder

Beetroot Powder

Beetroot powder is beetroot that has been dried and ground to a powder. Although it’s a highly convenient way of adding colour (did you know that beetroot is used as a dye and ink?) and flavour to any dish, nutrient-wise it’s not so beneficial since the drying process reduces enzyme activity and water soluble vitamins, such as Vitamin C.  Despite this, beetroot powder is also sold as a health supplement because of raw beetroot’s natural health properties, appealing to people who prefer the convenience of taking capsules

Calories in Beetroot

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Raw/boiled beetroot has 37 calories per 100g (4oz).

Roasted beetroot has about 50 calories per 100g (40z).

Beetroot juice has 39 calories per 100g (40z).

Beetroot Nutrition

In the Middle Ages, beetroot was used against certain diseases. Now today beet is often called a super vegetable.  When you look at its impressive nutritional content, you can understand why it deserves this title. Beetroot is a natural source of a range of essential minerals, vitamins and anti-oxidants.

Beet also contains antioxidants called betalaines and other forms of antioxidants; flavonoids, phenolic compounds, zeaxanthin and lutein.

As we will see later, beet is a good source of folate (vitamin B9 along with vitamin B2. It also contains vitamin K, vitamin A, and in lesser amounts, vitamins B1, B5, B6, C and E.

As with many vegetables, beetroot mainly consist of water, hence the reason they are low in calories. Specially beets contain 88% water, 8% carbohydrates and just 0.2% fat.
100 grams (40z) of boiled beetroot contains just over 40 calories, and contains the following nutrients:

  • Calories: 43
  • Water: 88%
  • Protein: 1.6 grams
  • Carbs: 9.6 grams
  • Sugar: 6.8 grams
  • Fiber: 2.8 grams
  • Fat: 0.2 grams

Beetroot Sugar Content

Between 70 – 80% of the carbohydrates in beetroot are simple sugars, such as glucose and fructose.  Beetroots have a medium glycemic index (GI) of 61, which indicates how fast blood sugar levels rise after a meal. More importantly, the glycemic load of beetroots is very low at just 5. This means that beetroot should not have a major effect on blood sugar levels because the total carbohydrate amount in each serving is low.

Beetroot is a Good Source of Minerals

Beetroot Salad with TomatoesBeetroot contains iron, copper, magnesium, manganese and some calcium. Beets are rich in certain minerals such as iron and folic acid, so is especially beneficial for vegetarians and vegans and during pregnancy. For a mineral rich, flavoursome salad, why not combine beetroot with tomatoes (magnesium), red cabbage (manganese) and onions (calcium) with an orange dressing (phosphorous).
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Beetroot is a Good Source of Folate

Vitamin B9 or folate (the natural form of manufactured folic acid) is found in abundance in beetroot.  This is great news for pregnant women who are recommended to take folic acid to help avoid Neural Tube Defects (such as spina bifida).  Folic acid is found in many pre-natal supplements however many people are unaware that this is a laboratory made vitamin and that it is folate that is the naturally occurring form.  It is also possible to overdose on manufactured folic acid (excess has been linked to certain cancers) whereas it is not possible to overdose on folate unless you were to eat several kilos of folate rich foods everyday!

Beetroot is a Good Source of Potassium

What you may not realise is that this tasty vegetable is a good source of potassium, with the root giving you 325 mg per 100g (4oz) beetroot.  However, it is the leaves (beet greens) that should take your interest as they provide a staggering 909 mg per 100g which is more than one quarter of our daily recommended intake (3500 mg).  Potassium is good for lowering blood pressure and controlling the balance of fluids in the body.Too little potassium can lead to an irregular heartbeat, irritability, nausea and diarrhoea. Other good sources of potassium include bananas, parsley, chives, pulses, nuts, and seeds.  

Beetroot is a Good Source of Vitamin C

Beetroot Red Fruit Smoothie

Let’s first distinguish between ascorbic acid, which is a manufactured nutrient but is only one part of the Vitamin C complex.  Foods that contain Vitamin C contain a complex of supporting nutrients, including: bioflavanoids (supports veins, especially spider and varicose veins), chloline (supports your immune system), tyrosinase (a form of copper) and Vitamin K (supports clotting, stops bruising).  All of these nutrients are needed because they work in synergy with each other.  If you supplement with just one of these nutrients, the other parts of the Vitamin C complex become deficient.  This is why it’s important to eat foods that are rich in naturally occurring Vitamin C (complex) such as beetroot.

The best source of Vitamin C is unheated beetroot, such as raw beetroot or cold-pressed, beetroot juice that has not been heat pasteurised, since heating quickly destroys Vitamin C and other water soluble vitamins.

What’s Good About Beetroot

People have been using beetroot to support their health for centuries, but it is only relatively recently that this super vegetable gained widespread following for its many uses.

Beetroot contains several antioxidants which makes it a very effective product to fight against free radicals. Antioxidants have been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and other chronic diseases. This is particularly the case of betalains, the antioxidants that are responsible for beetroot’s colour and which may reduce the risk of health issues in the liver, skin and lung.

Other antioxidants in beetroot are lutein and zeaxanthin, which may be helpful for cataracts, retinitis pigmentosa and macular degeneration.

Broccoli Sprout and Beetroot Juice

We love beetroot juice, it’s sweet and, as you can see, full of nutrition.  But we also love broccoli sprout juice so we decided the best thing was to join these 2 super juices into one super tube.

We cold-press our beetroot, to retain nutrients and enzymes, creating a wonderful, sweet tasting juice.  Then we add our best selling raw cold-pressed Broccoli Sprout juice, to make Broccoli Sprout + Beetroot Juice, giving you all the benefits of beetroot and broccoli sprouts in one sweet juice shot.

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    Contains Sulforaphane:

    Independent laboratories tested Vegus Foods’ Broccoli Sprout Juice to contain at least 25 micromoles of isothiocyanates including sulforaphane per 10 ml, so one 40ml tube of Broccoli Sprout + Beetroot juice gives you at least 50 micromoles isothiocyanates including sulforaphane.

    The Johns Hopkins Institute recommended 40 micromoles sulforaphane a day.

    Disclaimer: At Vegus Foods, we are farmers and we make great juices and we like to share information about our juices with you.  But we are not doctors or scientists or nutritionists. We are not any kind of health care providers. If you need medical advice or require diagnosis or treatment we cannot give it to you. You must consult a qualified practitioner (but please tell them all about our juices!)

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