Ah, the humble beetroot. I think many of us aren’t too keen on this powerhouse of a vegetable, but it has now become quite trendy in contemporary cuisine, and has been the focus of a great deal of clinical research, too.
One of the areas that has attracted a lot of attention is the effect beetroot has on blood pressure. It is very high in natural nitrates, a type of mineral salt. This is converted by the body into nitric oxide, which is naturally produced to regulate blood pressure. Nitric oxide causes the muscles in the blood vessel walls to relax, which widens the vessels, and in turn reduces blood pressure. Some small-scale studies have confirmed this effect. This doesn’t mean you can throw your medicine in the bin and eat beetroot all day, though – it just highlights a powerful ingredient we can consume more of to benefit our health.
Several studies have shown that betacyanin, the purple colour pigment in beetroot, can have a beneficial effect on liver function. It is known to increase the level and activity of detoxification enzymes found in the liver, mainly the potent glutathione peroxidase, which is involved in breaking down and removing alcohol from the liver. Bacon sarnie the morning after? Nah. Bring on the beetroot juice!