The Health Benefits of Beetroot

Beetroot is in season from July through to October. It is not just the root that can be eaten but the leaves as well. You can eat beetroot raw blended in a juice or grated into salads and coleslaws. Beetroot is also delicious roasted in the oven, steamed or in soups.

Picture of Healthy Beetroot

It is a highly nutritious vegetable containing plenty of vitamins and minerals and a useful addition to your dietary intake. Here are some of the key nutrients:

  • Folate, Manganese, Nitrates
  • Magnesium, Potassium, Iron
  • Vitamin C, Zinc, Bioflavonoids
  • Betaine, Betalaine

Health benefits

Beetroot contains betalaines which give it its red colour and have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. There is some evidence that nitrates in beetroot may help with cell respiration. This is the rate at which cells converts biochemical energy from nutrients into energy that the body can use for its processes.

Nitrates may also improve the rate at which the body’s tissues receive oxygen. Here, the nitrates in beetroot are converted into nitric oxide in the body which may help to dilate the blood vessels and increase the blood flow. This could potentially help to maintain the health of the heart, blood vessels and nervous system.

Beetroot could possibly help to improve inflammatory conditions such as skin disorders and arthritis caused by an over active immune system. Beetroot contains fibre and there is a link between high fibre diets and reduced risk of heart disease, colon cancer and type 2 diabetes. Fibre adds bulk to the stool and helps to reduce the risk of constipation and diverticulitis. The fibre it contains aids digestive function and provides food for the gut microbiome which help to maintain a healthy gut lining and ensure that nutrients are properly absorbed. When the gut wall is not properly maintained larger particles can be allowed to pass through to the blood stream and trigger an immune response.

I am sure that many people have heard of glycaemic index (GI). This is the amount of glucose that is contained in 100g of a carbohydrate containing food and beetroot has a medium GI of around 6. This might sound quite high to some but it has a low glycaemic load (GL) of around 2.9. The is because the rate that it releases sugar into the blood stream is slow. This is useful for people such as diabetics and pre-diabetics who are trying to keep their blood sugar levels balanced.

The amino acid betaine, found in beetroot, may also help to improve liver function.

There are some obvious side effects of eating beetroot. The red pigment may cause red faeces and urine. So don’t panic!

Is it for everyone?

The leaves of the plant are high in oxalates which can cause joint inflammation and so should be avoided by arthritis sufferers. The oxalic acid can also cause kidney stones and so the leaves should be avoided by people suffering from kidney disease.

Supplements instead?

Research is ongoing into supplementing the compounds found in beetroot for their health benefits. Many of the compounds have been studied individually but the greatest advantage could come from them all working together. Hence there is a benefit from eating the whole food but it should be noted that this is reliant on the body absorbing and processing the nutrients effectively.

If you suffer from any health condition or are taking any medications but would like guidance on how to increase your nutrient intake, then please consult with myself (Contact me) or other health care professional before changing your diet.

We all have different dietary requirements and need different types and amounts of nutrients to suit our lifestyles and health. This can be addressed through nutritional therapy. If you would like advice on the best nutrient dense diet for you then please feel free to contact me for a free 20-minute consultation to find out if this is for you.

Recipe Suggestions

Beetroot and Sardine salad

Beetroot and Butter Bean Soup

Please follow and like us:

Organic & Seasonal Vegetables

Should we all be buying locally sourced organic and seasonal veg to improve our health and protect the environment?

Organic farming prioritises the health of the soil, crops, people, animals and insects. Genetically modified crops are not allowed and there are no artificial fungicides, pesticides or herbicides which damage the ecosystem. Organic farmers are allowed to use a much smaller range of naturally sourced chemicals, the use of which is under strict control. However, some people are unhappy about the use of any chemicals.

Image of a basket filled with fresh vegetables.

Organic farming makes more use of crop rotation and composting. Cover crops are planted in fields that are not being used for cash crops to put nutrients back into the soil and also help to keep weeds down, provide food and shelter for wildlife and reduce soil erosion. Predators such as birds of prey and bats are also encouraged to keep pest numbers under control naturally. Before the advent of mass production, these were common farming methods.

Image of a field of cows grazing among wild flowers.

Some farms use livestock to cultivate and fertilise the land. Cattle help to tear up the weeds leaving the soil exposed to allow a varied plant life to flourish. Their manure is trodden into the soil adding organic matter to improve the soil structure. Sheep graze the land differently and select different grasses helping to increase the diversity of land use. They are also less likely to leave areas of soil exposed to erosion. This mixed land use can encourage wild flowers and insects to flourish and invasive species to be kept at bay.

Organic crops may be more resistant to climate change. This type of farming captures more carbon in the soil and the farmers are less reliant on oil based chemical fertilisers and pesticides which contribute to global warming.

Always Organic?

Whether consuming these products makes a difference to our toxin load will depend on many different aspects of the environment that we are exposed to such as hair and skin products, household cleaners and air fresheners. Do you spray weed killer in the garden or walk or cycle near busy roads? What types of household decorating products are you using? All of these factors expose us to additional toxins.

Organic produce can be more expensive and you may have to restrict how much you buy. The list below shows which produce may be best to buy organic and which contain very few chemical residues.

Shows images of the best versus the worst veg for pesticide residue.

There are many farms that are not classified as organic but are following similarly high standards of crop management and animal welfare. If you are interested in reducing the carbon footprint of the food you eat, it may be worthwhile going to local farmers’ markets and speaking to the farmers in person so that you can find out about how they farm and possibly buy from them directly. There are also farms who deliver direct to your door.

Go Local

It is better to buy locally if you can because you will be buying produce that is in season and hasn’t endured several methods of transport and many miles of travel before it arrives at your door.

Another benefit of seasonal produce is that you will be increasing the nutrient diversity of your diet and you will get to try out lots of new vegetables that you may never have thought of using. Your food will taste good, be much better for you and be more interesting as well.

Overall, it is more important to check that your food has been produced to a high standard, respecting the environment and animal welfare than it is buy all organic produce. Buying locally will reduce the time that it takes for the produce to get from the farm to your plate ensuring that as many nutrients are preserved as possible. Using local farms will allow you to access produce that is in season but, if this is not possible, supermarkets are now providing more information on the origin of their products than ever before to help you make informed choices.

References

English Nature. The Importance of Livestock Grazing for Wildlife Conservation [Online]. Available at: www.publications.naturalengland.org/file/612038 [Accessed 20/8/2019].

Magnificent Meadows.org. Types of Grazing Animals [Online]. Available at: www.Magnificentmeadows.org.uk/assets/pdfs/Types_of_Livestock.pdf [Accessed 20/8/2019].

Pesticide Action Network UK. https://www.pan-uk.org/dirty-dozen-and-clean-fifteen/ [Accessed 16/8/2019]

Soil Association.org. Organic farming [Online]. Available at www.soilassociation.org/organic-living/organicfarming. [Accessed 16/8/2019].

Please follow and like us: