Beets might make for great soups (the Borsch), salads, canned food etc., but there’s more to this fabulous vegetable than being mere food. It’s no secret that beetroot offers a plethora of benefits that range from lowering BP (blood pressure) to anti-tumor capabilities.
Beta vulgaris (the scientific term for beets) has been around for quite some time and judging by the amazing benefits it provides, it’s here to stay. Read more about the history of beetroot here.
However, it’s the antioxidant properties of this superfood that we’re going to be taking a closer look at in today’s post. We’ll examine what scientific data has to say about that and whether or not beetroot truly acts as a potent antioxidant.
Are beets high in antioxidants?
Yes, and that’s due to their betalain-content. According to the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, regular consumption of products containing red beets has the potential to provide adequate antioxidant protection and fight oxidative stress.
This study was actually rather revolutionary back in 2001 when it discovered a new kind of dietary, cationized antioxidants that were found in beets. They are called betalains (with betanin being the primary one) and beetroot owes its antioxidant properties to that molecule.
Perhaps another very intriguing aspect of this scientific research is that the reduction of oxidative stress might be achieved by as few as 300 milliliters of red beet juice that has around 120 milligrams of betanin in it.
Beets are also high in phenol compounds that are proven to have antioxidant features!
Our beloved beetroot provides boatloads of something called polyphenols and these are organic compounds that provide potent antioxidant protection.
In a relevant study from 2005, American researchers found that polyphenols could very well increase cell survival, prevent the growth of cancer cells and offer an overall positive effect on oxidative stress.
That’s not all though – beetroot offers more amazing benefits that lower the oxidative stress.
The antioxidant properties of beets and their general health benefits (including cardiovascular and liver protection)
In 2015, a scientific review conducted by Journal of Human Nutrition published by MDPI highlighted the fact that beetroot can be regarded as a potent method for dealing with various clinical pathologies related to inflammation, chemo-preventive properties and of course – oxidative stress.
Researchers suggest that those benefits can be associated with the betalain pigment content that’s found in beetroots. Also, due to the high concentration of nitrates in beets, they’re also a powerful tool for increasing N.O. (nitric oxide) levels and that results in vasodilation (widening) of the blood vessels.
Therefore, this means that beetroot can be used for dealing with certain conditions connected to the reduced absorption of N.O. in the body, such as:
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Endothelial function
The conclusion that these researchers eventually came to, is that the beetroot provides effective antioxidant, cardiovascular and anti-inflammatory protection and that’s been confirmed by various studies – both human and animal.
But wait, there’s even more scientific proof for beetroot’s antioxidant capabilities!
That’s right. In a scientific research courtesy of the Department of Medicine in Hungary (Europe), researchers the supposed antioxidant and liver protecting efficiency of Beta Vulgaris – they used rats as the test subjects in this study.
Needless to say, their findings were conclusive and in favor of beetroot. The conclusion was that beets greatly increase both glutathione peroxidase (GPx) and superoxide dismutase (SODs). These two are basically are enzymatic antioxidants and a boost in the values of these antioxidants just proves how effective beetroots are in reducing oxidation.
Not only that, but beets also seem to enhance the levels of copper and zinc could offer extra protection of the liver cells by lowering the oxidative stress.
Now, let’s take a look at the awesome vitamin content of beets and how it increases the overall antioxidant effectiveness of these red veggies.
What vitamins are in a beet and how do they help with decreasing oxidative stress?
Beetroot is loaded with essential vitamins and minerals that your body needs, but they also work synergically with the phenols and betanins that beets have plenty of as well. Here are the vitamins and minerals that every beetroot is brimming with:
- Folic Acid (a.k.a. Vitamin B9) – While folic acid may play a role in producing and supporting cells in the body, it’s also an efficient way for reducing oxidative stress. According to a study by the Journal of Free Radical Biology and Medicine, folic acid is very capable of dealing with free radicals.
- Potassium – Apart from being known as a mineral that positively affects the cardiovascular system, potassium may also offer adequate antioxidant protection. Apparently, there’s a study from 2012 that points to the effectiveness of potassium and calcium for fighting toxicity and giving antioxidant enzymes a boost.
- Manganese – Apparently, manganese can be used for safeguarding the body from free radical damage. Researchers from the Journal of Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics stated that in a 1992 study, mentioning the role of manganese in scavenging free radicals.
- Iron – Our bodies need this mineral for many reasons, but one of them is undoubtedly its efficiency as an antioxidant. A study courtesy of the Biological Trace Element Research found that after supplementing with Iron for six weeks, the oxidative stress in test subjects was greatly reduced.
- Vitamin C – We all know that Vit. C improves our immune system, right? Well, it’s also a powerful antioxidant, according to researchers from the Cancer Detection and Prevention journal. They found that Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that any dose up to 5 grams will not have a negative impact on cell cycle, apoptosis and even NK (natural killer) cells.
Wrapping it up
Evidently, beetroot is indeed a very powerful and effective antioxidant. This subject has been studied extensively and we can safely conclude that yes, beets offer superb antioxidant protection.
Don’t forget to drop a comment in the comment section below with your opinion about the oxidative-stress lowering capabilities of beetroot.
Is the antioxidant effects of this veggie the reason why you’re including it in your diet, or maybe there’s a different reason? I’d love to know – just leave me a comment!
- Betalains–a new class of dietary cationized antioxidants – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11714300
- Polyphenols: antioxidants and beyond – https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/81/1/215S/4607494
- The Potential Benefits of Red Beetroot Supplementation in Health and Disease – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4425174/
- Liver-protecting effects of table beet (Beta vulgaris var. rubra) during ischemia-reperfusion – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17234508
- Free radical scavenging behavior of folic acid: evidence for possible antioxidant activity – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11390184
- Effect of Calcium and Potassium on Antioxidant System of Vicia faba Under Cadmium Stress – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3397484/
- Antioxidant effect of manganese – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1444472
- Effect of iron supplementation on oxidative stress and antioxidant status in iron-deficiency anemia – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14716090
- New evidence for antioxidant properties of vitamin C – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11198264