Beetroot: properties, benefits, uses

With a bright color, beetroot is a particular and decidedly healthy root. Rich in beneficial properties, beetroot is restorative and antioxidant. Discover the benefits and uses of this red tuber.

The red beet (or beetroot) is a plant root scientifically known as Beta vulgaris belonging to the same family of sugar beets but with very different genetic and nutritional characteristics; in fact, sugar beets are white in color and are commonly used for sugar extraction.

Red beets, as well as the consumption of the juice produced by them, have been associated with numerous beneficial health effects including improved blood flow, reduced blood pressure and increased physical performance. Many of these properties of beets are due to their high content of inorganic nitrates.

Beetroot: calories and nutritional values

Beetroot is rich in water, almost 90 grams per 100 and is an excellent source of fiber, antioxidants, folic acid (vitamin B9), potassium and vitamin C. This vegetable is also low in calories: only 43 per 100 grams therefore also suitable for a low-calorie diet.

Furthermore, beets have an average glycemic index (about 61) but a very low glycemic load, equal to 5. This means that their consumption would not significantly alter glycemic levels, as the total amount of carbohydrates present in each portion is very low. Let’s now see the characteristics of the compounds most represented in red beet.

Nutritional values ​​per 100g of beetroot:

  • Waterfall: 87.58 g
  • kcal: 43
  • Proteins: 1.61 g
  • Fat: 0.17 g
  • of which saturated: 0.02 g
  • Carbohydrates: 9.56 g
  • of which sugars: 6.76 g
  • Fibers: 2.8 g
  • Potassium: 325 mg
  • Sodium: 78 mg
  • Phosphorus: 40 mg
  • Betaine: 128.7 mg
  • Glycemic index: 61
  • Cholesterol: 0 g

Beetroot: nutritional properties

As mentioned above, beetroot contains numerous antioxidant compounds, vitamins and minerals. Let’s see, therefore, what are the characteristics of the components most represented in the beet.

  • Carbohydrates: Beets are made up of about 10% carbohydrates with simple sugars accounting for 70-80%, depending on whether the beets are raw or cooked. Among the carbohydrates of beets we also find fructans, short-chain carbohydrates, better known as FODMAPs;
  • Fiber: Red beets are high in fiber, providing nearly 3 grams for every 100-gram serving. The daily requirement of fiber is equal to 30 grams, an amount which has been associated with the reduction of the risk of developing various diseases, in particular cardiovascular ones;
  • Vitamin C: extraordinary antioxidant that works by improving immune function, skin health and reducing oxidative stress;
  • Folate (Vitamin B9): Beets are an excellent source of folate, the essential vitamins for tissue growth and normal cell function. Regular folate intake is of particular importance in specific moments of life such as conception and for the entire duration of pregnancy;
  • Potassium: A high potassium diet helps maintain regular blood pressure levels and has a positive effect on cardiovascular health;
  • Betaine: belonging to the group of betalaines, betaine works by improving liver function and reducing blood homocysteine ​​levels. High homocysteine ​​levels are associated with an increased risk of developing coronary heart disease (CHD), stroke and peripheral vascular disease;
  • Betanin: is the most common pigment of beets, belonging to the group of betalaines, responsible for their intense red color;
  • Inorganic nitrates: beets and the juice produced by them are particularly rich in nitrates which, inside our body, are converted into nitric oxide which acts by promoting blood vasodilation and consequently reducing pressure.

Beetroot: health benefits

There are many properties of beetroot and all attributable to the presence of antioxidants, fibers and nutrients useful to support good health. In short, beetroot reduces pressure, detoxifies, is good for the intestine, promotes liver health and has a good antioxidant action, but not only. Let’s break down all the benefits of beetroot in detail.

✓ Reduction of blood pressure

The consumption of fruit and vegetables rich in inorganic nitrates (such as red beetroot) favors the reduction of the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases thanks to the reduction of blood pressure and the increase in the formation of nitric oxide, a molecule that promotes relaxation and dilation of blood vessels. Numerous studies such as the meta-analysis and the study have shown that consuming beets or the juice produced by them would reduce blood pressure by up to 3-10 mm / Hg!.

✓ Prevention of constipation

Thanks to the high fiber content, the consumption of beets helps prevent constipation and improves the regularity of the gastro-intestinal system.

✓ Antioxidant action

Betanin, the pigment that gives beets their typical color, is a powerful antioxidant capable of protecting blood vessel walls and reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke.

✓ Liver health

A recent study shown that the integration of betaine in the diet of laboratory mice works by reducing the fat accumulated in the liver, improving the metabolism of these animals compared to those of control.

✓ Purifying and detoxifying action

Thanks to the water content that approaches 90%, beets boast purifying benefits as they promote diuresis and the elimination of toxins from the body.

✓ Best sports performance

Numerous researches have demonstrated the properties of beetroot in improving sports performance. In particular, studies have shown that the nitrates present in the vegetable improve physical performance, in particular during high-intensity endurance physical activity, thanks to the increase in mitochondrial efficiency, the cellular organelles responsible for energy production. Consuming nitrate-rich foods such as beets improves cycling and running performance, increases endurance, improves oxygen utilization and leads to better overall physical performance.

How much beetroot to eat

A standard serving of beetroot equals about 200 grams or, more practically, one turnip. When it is in season you can also eat every day. In fact, consuming one beet a day is enough to guarantee the benefits we have seen above.

Beetroot: how to use it

The beetroot is in season in the period from October to March / April. However, there is also a summer variety. Fresh beets should be chosen firm and compact, without bruises or wet parts. Wilted beets should also be avoided as they may not be fresh.

Once bought, the beets should be cleaned thoroughly under running water to remove the earth. At this point you can peel them with a potato peeler or cook them with the peel and remove it once cooked. The leaves, on the other hand, can be cut and cooked separately in a pan for a few minutes with a drizzle of oil and garlic.

Red beets can be eaten roasted, steamed, boiled, in brine or raw, but it is important to keep in mind that many of the beneficial compounds of beets (such as betalain) are particularly sensitive to temperatures, so it is essential to cook them little, taking advantage of steam cooking, for example. Here are some tips for integrating beets into your diet:

  • Add a few slices of beetroot to your seasonal salads;
  • Raw beets can be used as ingredients in delicious smoothies. like the one made with orange, mint, pineapple and beetroot or with apple, lemon, beetroot and ginger;
  • Consume baked or steamed beets combined with goat cheese;
  • If you want to enjoy it raw, you can finely grate it and add it to a carrot and cucumber salad.

The simple appetizer based on beets and potatoes is also very appreciated: steam the beets after having reduced them to thin slices. Meanwhile, prepare a soy milk mashed potato and assemble the beets as sandwiches, with the mashed potatoes, chives and lemon juice inside. Also excellent as finger food. With beets you can also prepare a healthy soup, a very common practice in the countries of northern Europe.

Beets are also used as a natural dye: the purplish-red juice is perfect for the production of cosmetics made with natural products, but also for dyeing fabrics. There are also many nurseries that use beets as a dye to entertain children.

Beetroot: contraindications and potential negative effects

Beets are generally well tolerated and have no particular contraindications, except for people who are prone to developing kidney stones and those with irritable bowel syndrome.

  • Oxalates: Beets contain oxalates which can contribute to the formation of kidney stones. Furthermore, oxalates have an anti-nutritional action by interfering with the absorption of some micronutrients;
  • FODMAPs: beets contain fructans, short-chain carbohydrates, better known as FODMAPs which, by feeding intestinal bacteria, can cause unpleasant digestive upsets in particularly sensitive individuals such as those suffering from irritable bowel syndrome.


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