Also known simply as the beet, has been gaining in popularity as a new super food due to recent studies claiming that beets and beetroot juice can improve athletic performance, lower blood pressure and increase blood flow. New products incorporating this highly nutritious food are sprouting up everywhere, especially in juices and drinks.
Beetroot, or table beets, although from the same family as sugar beets (beta vulgaris), are genetically and nutritionally different. Sugar beets are white in color and commonly used for sugar extraction and sweetening manufactured foods. Sugar cannot be obtained from beetroot, which are most commonly found in red and gold varieties.
Consuming fruits and vegetables of all kinds has long been associated with a reduced risk of many lifestyle-related health conditions. Many studies have suggested that increasing consumption of plant foods like beetroot decreases the risk of obesity and overall mortality, diabetes, heart disease and promotes a healthy complexion and hair, increased energy, overall lower weight.
Heart health and blood pressure: A 2008 study published in Hypertension examined the effects of ingesting 500mls of beetroot juice in healthy volunteers and found that blood pressure was significantly lowered after ingestion. Researchers hypothesized this was likely due to the high nitrate levels contained in beet juice and that the high nitrate vegetables could prove to be a low cost and effective way to treat cardiovascular conditions and blood pressure. Another study conducted in 2010 found similar results that drinking beetroot juice lowered blood pressure considerably on a dose-dependent basis.
Dementia: Researchers at Wake Forest University have found that drinking juice from beetroot can improve oxygenation to the brain, slowing the progression of dementia in older adults. According to Daniel Kim-Shapiro, director of Wake Forest’s Translational Science Center, blood flow to certain areas of the brain decrease with age and leads to a decline in cognition and possible dementia. Consuming beetroot juice as part of a high nitrate diet can improve the blood flow and oxygenation to these areas that are lacking.
Beets are high in dietary nitrate, which is believed to be the reason why many of the potential health benefits of beetroot are being studied.
Until tomorrow: On earth there is no heaven, but there are pieces of it.