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

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A Healthy Nutritious Breakfast

Start your day with a healthy, nutritious breakfast and you will be better able to control your energy levels, blood sugar and cravings throughout the day.

Here’s an idea for a healthy, balanced breakfast to give you the energy to start your day. 

  • ½ cup of rolled oats
  • 175ml nut milk or semi-skimmed milk
  • 1 kiwi chopped
  • 1 apple chopped
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp ground flax seeds
  • 2 tbsp chopped mixed nuts
  • 1 tbsp mixed seeds
  • 1 tbsp full fat probiotic yogurt

It contains:

  • Minerals such as magnesium, manganese, copper, calcium, zinc and potassium.
  • Soluble fibre in kiwis, apples, rolled oats, chia seeds, nuts. This helps to slow down the digestion of your food as well as helping to control the amount of sugar released into the bloodstream. It helps the gut bacteria to produce the short-chain fatty acid, N-butyrate, which feeds the gut epithelial cells and may help to reduce inflammation.
  • Insoluble fibre in apples, oats will help to move the waste products of digestion through the bowel, reducing the risk of developing constipation and haemorrhoids.
  • Protein in chia seeds, yogurt, milk, nut milk, nuts, seeds. This will aid the growth, repair and renewal of the body’s cells. It will help you to maintain muscle mass as well as synthesising hormones.
  • Probiotics in yogurt help to encourage a healthy balance of gut bacteria.

You can change the fruit, the type of milk you use, as well as the nuts and seeds. This will ensure that you get as many nutrients in your diet as you are able to and it may encourage you to introduce some new ones too. If you are not used to eating fibre, then build up gradually till you get to a level that suits you.

If you are short on time, you can always prepare the dry ingredients in advance and keep them in an airtight container to make it easier.

This breakfast should last you till lunch time, depending on your activity levels. You will also be making a good start in helping towards your daily intake of fruit and vegetables. Add a boiled egg if you would like some extra protein to curb those hunger pangs.

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