Beet

Summary

Medicinal plant (vegetable) with antioxidant and vasodilator effect, can be used against hypertension or in endurance athletes to increase performance, preferably consumed as juice.

names

Portuguese name: Beetroot
Binomial name: Beta vulgaris L.
French name: betterave , betterave rouge, betterave potagère
English name: beet
German name: Rübe
Italian name: barbabietola
Spanish name: Remolacha

Family

Chenopodiaceae

Constituents

Nitrate, carotenoids, betalains, vitamins (A, K…), minerals (magnesium), phenolic components, lutein and zeaxanthin

parts used

Root (legume)

Effects

Reduce oxygen consumption during exercise (due to nitrate found in beets), antioxidant (against free radicals), anti-inflammatory (betalaine effect), antitumor (betalaine), hypotensive and vasodilator.

Indications

– Hypertension

– Increase the endurance of athletes

– High cholesterol or high LDL

– Prevention of certain types of cancer (probably due to the action of carotenoids with antioxidant function): bowel cancer

– To avoid sunburn (attention, supplement with the appropriate application of suitable sunscreen), to help skin tanning (due to the carotenoid content).

– May have effect on eye health due to lutein, zeaxanthin or beta-carotene.

– Heart failure  with preserved ejection fraction (as an adjunct therapy, according to a study published in February 2016, drinking 1 beetroot juice per day improves endurance and lowers blood pressure in subjects aged 69 years and older, to For more information, see the subject beetroot juice). Heart failure with reduced ejection fraction

Secundary effects

Beetroot side effects: risk of developing urinary stones (if consumed as vegetables or juice).

contraindications

urinary stones

Interactions

Anticoagulants (due to the presence of vitamin K in beets).

Preparations

– beetroot juice

– Raw or cooked vegetables (consume preferably raw to ensure all their nutritional properties, such as in salads)

Where does the beet grow?

Beetroot can be grown in various regions of the world such as Europe or the Americas.

When to harvest beets?

Beetroot is usually harvested when the root (legume) is visible, appears on the surface of the soil.

Interesting Observations

Sports/Exercise and Beetroot Juice
– A study published by the University of Exeter in the UK showed that drinking beetroot juice can increase an athlete’s activity time by 16%. The researchers speculate that consumption of the juice reduces oxygen consumption during exercise because of the beet’s nitrate content (an effect caused by the nitrate turning into nitric acid). Thus, the athlete will resist more before getting tired.
– In 2017, a team of scientists from Wake Forest Baptistshowed that drinking beetroot juice before exercising helped the brains of older people to function better, i.e., improve exercise. In other words, the brain seemed to “rejuvenate” with the beetroot juice. This study was published in 2017 in the journal Journals of Gerontology: Medical Sciences🇧🇷 The study included 26 men and women over the age of 55 who did not exercise frequently and who had high blood pressure. According to the researchers, nitric oxide (NO) would be responsible for beneficial effects on the brain. It is known that nitrate, which is found in large amounts in beet juice, is transformed in the body into nitric oxide (NO), which in turn is a molecule with a significant hypotensive effect.
In 2010, Wake Forest Baptist showed that beetroot juice increased blood flow to the brain in older adults. This 2010 study, which was the first to show a link between beetroot juice and blood flow in the brain, was published in the scientific journal Nitric Oxide: Biology and Chemistry .
– In 2012, a study published in the scientific journal Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics  showed that the consumption of whole beetroot (not in juice) increased performance in healthy adults who were running.

Hypertension and beet juice 
– At the end of 2014, a British study carried out by  Queen Mary University of London  (QMUL) with 64 participants with hypertension, showed that the daily consumption of 250 ml of beet juice for 4 weeks allowed the reduction of blood pressure blood pressure of 8 mmHg systolic and 4 mmHg diastolic.
Nitrate, which is found in large amounts in beetroot juice, is converted by our bodies into nitric oxide (NO), a molecule with a significant hypotensive effect. For
Prof.🇧🇷 Ahluwalia, who led this research: “The possibility of using a natural product, instead of medication, to reduce blood pressure is very interesting”. However, she estimates that a study with a much larger number of participants and over a longer period is needed to be truly sure of its effect on blood pressure in the long term and conclusively. According to the researchers, this is the first study that shows a long-term effect of beetroot juice on blood pressure.
A few years earlier, another British study showed that drinking 500 mL of beetroot juice reduced blood pressure approximately one hour after consumption. The effect of beets on blood pressure lasted between 3 and 4 hours. This survey was carried out by the University of Exeter and the Queen’s University  (Northern Ireland, United Kingdom).
– An Australian study published on December 11, 2012 in the Journal of Nutrition, showed that drinking a large glass of beet juice lowered blood pressure by 4 to 5 mmHg in healthy men.
Although this study also focused on women, the statistical analysis did not conclude a scientifically acceptable effect. A possible explanation for the gender difference in this study comes from the fact that the women who participated in the study were on average older than the men. In addition, some women consumed other medications such as contraceptives (potential interactions) which may have caused bias.
What is new in this Australian study is that consumption of beetroot juice can, at least in men, lead to a decrease in blood pressure in healthy subjects without a special diet. Beet juice has a first-choice preventive effect against hypertension.
– In 2008, a study published in the scientific journal Hypertension   had already shown the hypotensive effect of beetroot juice.

Heart failure
In our article on beet juice , read in Notes several studies on the use of beet juice in case of heart failure.

Other indications
– A study carried out by Wake Forest Baptist in the United States, published in 2015 in the specialized journal Nitric Oxide: Biology and Chemistry, showed that beet juice could help patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD, in English COPD ) to increase physical exercise time.

Practical observations

– Beetroot raw and consumed in the form of juice, can sometimes cause slightly reddish or red urine (red pee), this would be caused by the betalain pigments found in red beetroot. However, there is no health risk.
– From a practical point of view, you can drink about 250 ml of beetroot juice a day, preferably slightly diluted and consumed in small doses (for example, 100 ml at the beginning), because it can be difficult for the intestines, which will have going through a period of adaptation. It is always best to seek the advice of a healthcare professional such as a doctor, nutritionist or pharmacist who specializes in nutrition before starting a beetroot juice treatment. The use of beetroot juice is especially recommended for endurance athletes such as cyclists, this is probably not a miracle recipe for winning a marathon, but it could be a good supplement to try!

Sources: 
Wake Forest Baptist (USA)

Jeanne Kenney
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I’m a stylist trainer, a content creator, and an entrepreneur passion. Virgo sign and Pisces ascendant, I move easily between my dreams, the crazy world I want, and my feet on the ground to carry out my projects.

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