Beetroot

Beetroot the Garnet Goddess

       by  Seethalakshmi Seshabhushan Nagaraja MS BS BE RDN                                                                            Published on August 14, 2018 | Updated on June 3, 2019

There are lipsticks named after this pretty color. Beets get their typical deep garnet red color from a phytochemical called betaine. Colorful vegetables and fruits like beetroot, eggplant, carrots, bell peppers, squash, red onions and spinach aren’t just attractive, they are also rich in nutrients and antioxidants. There are multiple varieties of beets which vary in color and shape. Colors range from garnet red, purple, pink, orange / yellow, to almost white. Cooking methods and heat affect their color which can change from the original vibrant deep garnet red color to a yellowish brown color.

Beets belong to the same family as Swiss chard and their leaves are edible. Young beet leaves have a mild delicious flavor that even appeals to children. Similar to spinach and Swiss chard, they can be eaten raw or cooked. Beet greens are rich in potassium and a great way to increase your fiber intake. Beetroot is also a good source of folate that is required for a healthy pregnancy.

Did you know that beets are considered low in starch when compared to potatoes? Sugar beets are used to make table sugar in many countries as they contain 13% to 22% sucrose (type of carbohydrate). They contribute to about a third of the world’s sugar production. The carbohydrate content of the foods has an effect on blood sugar levels. Although beetroot has an intermediate glycemic index value of 64, it has a lower glycemic load value of 5 which supports better blood sugar control and a normal insulin response after eating.

Including foods that are high in fiber as part of a meal is also beneficial for improved blood sugar control. 2 boiled beets or ½ cup of sliced boiled beets have around 2g of fiber. Beets offer numerous defensive health benefits due to the presence of a variety of nutrients and antioxidants. They are anti-inflammatory plus there is ongoing research on the ergogenic (athletic performance aid) benefits of beetroot. Research results suggest that the high nitrate content of beetroot helps lower blood pressure, improves the flow of oxygen to muscles and reduces the amount of oxygen needed for exercise. Besides beets, common green leafy vegetables like spinach, arugula, lettuce and parsley have a high nitrate content too.

Nitrate content of vegetables

A traditional Indian vegetarian meal has always included a colorful variety of beans, vegetables, fruits and nuts in the cooked or raw form, especially seasonal fresh produce. Recent research maybe just uncovering the reasons why our ancestors who followed this healthy eating pattern combined with regular daily activities that kept them naturally fit, maintained normal good health and a high quality of living throughout their life. Eat fiber rich vegetarian proteins and a variety of colorful nutritious vegetables and fruits to stay healthy. Have you had your beets today?

Reference

  1. Bloomer RJ, Farney TM, Trepanowski JF, McCarthy CG, Canale RE. Effect of betaine supplementation on plasma nitrate/nitrite in exercise-trained men. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition . 2011.
  2. Rienks JN, Vanderwoude AA, Maas E, Blea ZM, Subudhi AW. Effect of Beetroot Juice on ModerateIntensity Exercise at a Constant Rating of Perceived Exertion. International Journal of Exercise Science . 2015.
  3. Bailey SJ, Winyard P, Vanhatalo A, Blackwell JR, DiMenna FJ, Wilkerson DP, Tarr J, Benjamin N, Jones AM. Dietary nitrate supplementation reduces the O2 cost of low-intensity exercise and enhances tolerance to high-intensity exercise in humans. J Appl Physiol. 2009.
  4. Porcelli S, Pugliese L, Rejc E, Pavei G, Matteo B, Montorsi M, Torre AL, Rasica L, Marzorati M. Effects of a Short-Term High-Nitrate Diet on Exercise Performance. Nutrients . 2016.
  5. Chandran J, Nisha P, Singhal RS, Pandit AB. Degradation of colour in beetroot (Beta vulgaris L.) a kinetics study. J Food Sci Technol . 2014.
  6. Abbott Nutrition. EAS Academy. EAS Sports Nutrition. www.easacademy.org/trainerresources/article/nitrates-nitrites-nitric-oxide-and-exercise-performance . Accessed February 8 2018.
  7. United States Department of Agriculture. Agricultural Research Service. Nutrient Data Laboratory website. www.ars.usda.gov/northeast-area/beltsville-md/beltsville-human-nutrition-research-center/nutrient-data-laboratory/ . Accessed February 8, 2018.

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