Beetroot (Beta vulgaris) is a root vegetable also known as red beet, table beet, garden beet, or just beet. Packed with essential nutrients, beetroots are a great source of fiber, folate (vitamin B9), manganese, potassium, iron, and vitamin C.
Beetroots and beetroot juice have been associated with numerous health benefits, including improved blood flow, lower blood pressure, and increased exercise performance. Many of these benefits are due to their high content of inorganic nitrates.
Beetroots are delicious raw but more frequently cooked or pickled. Their leaves — known as beet greens — can also be eaten. There are numerous types of beetroot, many of which are distinguished by their color — yellow, white, pink, or dark purple.
Beets mainly consist of water (87%), carbs (8%), and fiber (2–3%).
Raw or cooked beetroot offers about 8–10% carbs.
Simple sugars — such as glucose and fructose — make up 70% and 80% of the carbs in raw and cooked beetroots, respectively. Beetroots are also a source of fructans — short-chain carbs classified as FODMAPs.
Beetroots are high in fiber, providing about 2–3 grams in each 3/4-cup (100-gram) raw serving. Dietary fiber is important as part of a healthy diet and linked to a reduced risk of various diseases.
Vitamins and Minerals
Beetroots are a great source of many essential vitamins and minerals.
- Folate (vitamin B9). One of the B vitamins, folate is important for normal tissue growth and cell function. It’s particularly necessary for pregnant women.
- Manganese. An essential trace element, manganese is found in high amounts in whole grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables.
- Potassium. A diet high in potassium can lead to reduced blood pressure levels and positive effects on heart health.
- Iron. An essential mineral, iron has many important functions in your body. It’s necessary for the transport of oxygen in red blood cells.
- Vitamin C. This well-known vitamin is an antioxidant that is important for immune function and skin health.
- Other Plant Compounds
Plant compounds are natural plant substances, some of which may aid health.
The main plant compounds in beetroots are:
- Betanin. Also called beetroot red, betanin is the most common pigment in beetroots, responsible for their strong red color. It is believed to have various health benefits.
- Inorganic nitrate. Found in generous amounts in leafy green vegetables, beetroots, and beetroot juice, inorganic nitrate turns into nitric oxide in your body and has many important functions.
- Vulgaxanthin. A yellow or orange pigment found in beetroots and yellow beets.
Health Benefits of Beetroots
Beetroots and beetroot juice have many health benefits, especially for heart health and exercise performance.
Lower Blood Pressure
High blood pressure can damage your blood vessels and heart. What’s more, it’s among the strongest risk factors for heart disease, stroke, and premature death worldwide.
Eating fruits and vegetables rich in inorganic nitrates may cut your risk of heart disease by lowering blood pressure and increasing nitric oxide formation.
Studies show that beetroots or their juice can reduce blood pressure by up to 3–10 mm Hg over a period of a few hours.
Such effects are likely due to increased levels of nitric oxide, which causes your blood vessels to relax and dilate.
Increased Exercise Capacity
Numerous studies suggest that nitrates can enhance physical performance, particularly during high-intensity endurance exercise.
Dietary nitrates have been shown to reduce oxygen use during physical exercise by affecting the efficiency of mitochondria, the cell organs responsible for producing energy.
Beets and their juice are often used for this purpose because of their high inorganic nitrate content.
Consumption of beetroots may improve running and cycling performance, increase stamina, boost oxygen use, and lead to better exercise performance overall.
Beetroots are usually well tolerated — except for individuals prone to kidney stones. Consumption of beetroot may also cause your urine to become pink or red, which is harmless but often confused for blood.