Beetroot is a classic tonic for the blood with an impressive nutritional profile.
The beet family of plants, grow naturally along coastlines in North Africa, Asia, and Europe. The beet plant is a polymorphic biennial flowering in the second year of growth and reaches heights up to 2 m tall when in flower. The leaves are at the base of the plant and form a rosette arrangement. The flowers are small and green forming dense, usually branched inflorescences. The ‘Seeds’ are actually fruits that are attached to one another. The roots are characteristically blood red, bulbous and round in shape. It is this part of the plant that is most commonly cultivated.
All around the world the actions of traditional medicines were understood by their immediate sensory impacts. Click on each of beetroot’s key qualities below to learn more:
The two primary constituents in beetroot are betains and anthocyanins. Although they are both responsible for the deep red colouring of the plant, they are also antioxidants. Antioxidants help us to fight free radical damage, and protect against chronic degeneration at a deep cellular level.
Betain specifically supports Phase 2 detoxification processes in the liver. This process breaks down toxins that are bound to other molecules enabling them to be efficiently excreted from your body. So, betain is valuable for supporting detoxification and helping to purify your blood and your liver. Betaine also lowers the levels of homocysteine in the body which can affect blood vessel structure. Increased levels of betaine can also, therefore, protect the health of our heart and blood vessels preventing the onset of conditions such as atherosclerosis.
Beetroots have a broad nutritional profile including a wide range of vitamins, minerals and organic compounds such as betain, carotenoids, iron, folic acid, phosphorous, potassium, anthocyanins and nitrates. It is the betain that is responsible for beetroots’ vibrant red colour.
Beetroot has a specific affinity for the blood, which is indicated in its bright red colouring. Beetroot is naturally protective for our heart and blood vessels. Naturally occurring nitrates in beets, are converted into nitric oxide in the body. Nitric oxide helps to relax and dilate the blood vessels, improving blood flow and lowering blood pressure. Beetroot is also natural source of potassium which dilates blood vessels and contributes to an overall lowering of blood pressure. Nitric oxide also improves oxygen uptake within the body, making beetroot a favourable food with athletes for improving endurance and stamina during exercise.
In addition to boosting cardiovascular functioning, beetroots are high natural sources of Vitamin A, silica, iron and folic acid. Vitamin A protects against macular degeneration of the eyes and conditions such as cataracts as well as being a valuable antioxidant. Silicahelps the body to utilise calcium, an important component for musculo-skeletal health and reducing the risk of osteoporosis. Last but not least, iron and folic acid can help support a healthy pregnancy.
The generic name Beta derives from the Celtic bett meaning red. Originally, it was the beet greens that were consumed; the sweet red beet root that most people think of as a “beet” today wasn’t cultivated until the era of ancient Rome.
Some individuals may have a kidney deficiency that prevents them from properly metabolising betain. This can cause beeturia, or the production of red urine. Although not an immediate contraindication, it may place strain on individuals who already have a kidney deficiency.
Traditional Ayurvedic characteristics are
Fresh: Can be eaten regularly as part of a balanced diet, or in a juice form (however, this will not contain the natural fibres). The leaves of the beetroot plant are also nutritionally valuable.
Dried: 1-2 teaspoons of dried beetroot powder daily.