Beetroot Beta vulgaris subsp. vulgaris is of the chenopodiaceae family. 4 varieties are grown: red beetroot, fodder beet, French chard and sugar beet. Cane sugar production accounts for the majority of world production (about 80%) and is mainly concentrated in Asia, South and Central America. Beetroot has been known as a vegetable since ancient times. The origin of the food use of beet roots seems to lie in the great plain that stretches from Germany to Russia. Beets are grown for their fleshy roots, and used as a vegetable in human food, as fodder plants and for sugar production.
Its phytonutrients and vitamins
Source of fiber, folic acid and antioxidants, beetroot is one of the vegetables with the best antioxidant power. Its antioxidants help protect us from free radicals that are involved in the appearance of certain cancers, cardiovascular diseases and other chronic diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Beetroot is very rich in nitrates that turn into nitrites thanks to oral bacteria. These nitrites are involved in vasodilation and blood thinning, which improves the flow of blood to certain areas of the brain. Its roots contain vitamins C and betaine and its leaves vitamins A, carotenoids (Zeaxanthin, lutein) and a high amount of vitamin K. It contains copper, iron, magnesium, manganese and also potassium.
The beet is one of the few plants that contain betalines, a family of pigments contributing to its pronounced color. Betaalaines also have anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor and liver protectionproperties.
Studies indicate that the carotenoids in beet leaves may help prevent breast cancer and lung cancer. An animal study also showed that one of the pigments giving the color of beets decreased the appearance of liver, skin and lung cancers.
A vegetable rich in nitrate, beets are said to have the ability to protect our brains. When nitrate is converted into nitrite, the latter would dilate blood vessels in improved oxygenation which would help prevent dementia and cognitive decline.
The strong presence of carotenoids (lutein, zeaxanthin) contained in its leaves would lower the risk of cataracts, pigmentary retina and also macular degeneration.
Some studies have shown that in high-level athletes, the nitrate richness of beetroot would improve their cardiovascular and sportsperformance. However, these studies are in their infancy.
Beetroot has aphrodisiac benefits. Already as early as ancient times, the Romans used it for this purpose because it improves vigor and sexual performance. Called « natural viagra » it boosts sexual activity by releasing nitric oxide that promotes blood circulation in the penis. Its content of boron, a kind of chemical compound causes an increase in libido and fertility.
Many plants are supposed to awaken sexual desire or help the physical side to achieve the expected performance. Some of them are part of our diet such as artichoke, ginger, vanilla, chocolate. Others such as gingko biloba, Asian and American ginseng, rhodiola, and maca that would stimulate pshychic, require some preparation to be consumed. However, with the exception of maca recognized by Health Canada to have certain effects on sexual well-being, Western science has never been able to demonstrate these facts. On the other hand, in Asian culture more than a hundred species of plants and also animal substances such as rhino horn and also velvet wood are widely accepted as sexual stimulant, either mental or physical.
For some fruits and vegetables such as watermelon, pomegranate and broccoli, spinach, beet the explanation is simpler, their nitrate concentration. The cavernous bodies of the penis and clitoris are a small spongy ball of very small nerves surrounded by blood vessels. In men, the cavernous body is located in the penis from its base (much like an inner tube). In women, it surrounds the clitoris. During sexual periods, it becomes engorged with blood and becomes active. Its stimulation depends on the relaxation of the genital muscles. Nitric oxide (NO) and its metabolite cyclic GMP directly influences the erectile mechanism in both men and women. In men its action leads to the relaxation of the smooth muscles of the penis, which has the effect of facilitating the passage of blood from the penile veins and leading to swelling of the penis. The more marked the presence of cGMP, the longer lasting and stronger the erection will be. In women a similar but less strong phenomenon occurs in the clitoris. Beetroot is, after spinach, the food we consume with the highest nitrate concentration.
The high amount of vitamin k found in beet leaves contains an amount necessary for blood clotting, among other things. Health Canada therefore recommends that people who take anticoagulants daily limit their consumption of beets.
Sometimes the pigments in beetroot are absorbed by the intestine instead of beingdegraded. It is therefore possible that it happens that the urine or stool takes a shade close to that of blood. This phenomenon does not represent a danger to health.