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Beetroot

Beta Vulgaris

Despite being a normal part of our diet, beetroot is considered a ‘functional food’ due to the significant clinical application that in holds in relation to our health. Beetroot is a source of nitrates amongst other nutritional properties which provides a natural means of increasing the body’s own nitric oxide production. There are many conditions associated with a decrease in nitric oxide availability, most notably high blood pressure and endothelial dysfunction (the cells that line that inside of the heart and blood vessels and control relaxation and contraction). It also contains medicinal pigments called betalains, which display powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and chemo-preventive activity[i].


Nitric oxide is our body’s natural vasodilator, meaning that it relaxes the inner muscles of the blood vessels allowing an increase to circulation. Not only does this see a reduction in blood pressure, but this increase in circulation and blood flow can deliver nutrients and oxygenate muscle tissue. For this reason, it can also be used to our advantage not only in energising the body, but also improving sports performance. From a review of studies on beetroot juice supplementation and sports performance, the overall thinking is that it seems to make the production of our adenosine triphosphate (ATP), our energy currency, more efficient and at the same time reducing our consumption of this ATP allowing for an increase in time to fatigue[ii]. Benefits do seem to depend on initial levels of fitness with individuals with lower fitness levels getting the most benefits regarding athletic performance.


Oxidative stress plays a role in many chronic health conditions, where reactive oxygen and nitrogen species (RONS) overwhelm cellular antioxidant capacity. Antioxidant capacity of beetroot has been shown to be exceptional, with the presence of betalains acting as a strong electron donor and therefore having the capacity to defuse highly reactive radicals from targeting the cell membrane[iii]. As well as betalains, beetroot contains an array of other important antioxidants including rutin, epicatechin and caffeic acid[iv].


In addition to its unique phytonutrient qualities, beetroot is a rich source of the all-important folate (vitamin B9) amongst other nutritional qualities including fibre, manganese, potassium, magnesium and iron. Regular consumption of beetroot is a normal and healthy part of our diet in the UK. A number of nutritional supplements contain this functional food especially those designed around supporting healthy blood pressure, supporting sports performance and energising the body. However, benefits of beetroot is not only limited to these areas and in our clinic we quite often use this ingredient in various formats as part of our protocols for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant capacity.


Recommended For

Hypertension , Energy , Fatigue , Sports Performance

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