~ April 2015 No.257 ~
More and more we are being encouraged to add colour to our plate. The complex chemical compounds that give colour to our vegetables and fruits also have possible health benefits, mostly due to their antioxidant properties. Perhaps one of the most colourful root vegetables, the beet, should become more common in our diet.
Beets get their colour from a group of complex molecules called betacyanins.
Like all vegetables, beets contain no cholesterol. They are high in dietary fibre, and very high in the major minerals potassium and magnesium. Potassium controls fluid balance, allows transmission of nerve impulses and plays a part in muscle contraction. Magnesium is needed for good bone structure, proper muscle contraction and is a component of over 300 enzyme systems in the body. However, the high sugar content in beets may make some people reluctant to add too many to their diet.
One of the most widely accepted health benefits of beets is that blood pressure is lowered within 24 hours in people who drink beetroot juice. This beneficial effect is attributed to the nitrate content of the beet juice. The effect is most effective in men, and could be shown even when the beet juice is consumed as part of a normal diet in free-living healthy adults.
There are a variety of ways to eat and cook beets that make it easy to find ways to include them in a healthy diet. It is important to remember that beet greens either cooked or raw are also nutritious.
|Total fat:||0.18 g|
|Vitamin A:||35 IU|
|Ref: USDA Nutrient Database|
Chemical Structure of Betacyanin
Effect of beetroot juice on lowering blood pressure in free-living, disease-free adults
Nutr J 2012,11:106