What is Beetroot Extract?
Beetroot extract comes from the taproot of the Beta vulgaris plant. The Beta vulgaris species has several cultivars (cultivated varieties) bred by planters to achieve desired traits. For example, sugar beets belong to the Beta vulgaris cultivar group Altissima, and farmers grow them to produce common table sugar. Beetroots belong to the Conditiva Group and are the red root vegetable most North Americans think of when they hear the word beet. The common beet goes by many other names in countries that speak British English, including beetroot, red beet, golden beet, garden beet, table beet, and dinner beet.
Beetroots featured heavily in traditional medicine, and ancient civilizations used the plant to alleviate fevers, constipation, and a wide variety of other ailments. The most common modern use for beetroot is as a red colorant for various foods and wines. Beetroots are rich in betanin, a betalain pigment. Betanin belongs to the betacyanin category of betalains and ranges from red to violet in color. As the name implies, the word betalain is a derivative of Beta vulgaris. Betanin has the most research out of all the betalains and has significant antioxidant potential.
Potential Beetroot Benefits
Beetroot Extract as an Antioxidant and Anti-Inflammatory
Beetroot owes much of its antioxidant properties to its high betalain content. Numerous studies confirm that beetroot betalains are effective free radical scavengers and protect against oxidative stress. Free radicals inflict oxidative damage when their levels are too high, which is a significant contributing factor to premature aging and numerous health problems. Beetroot betalains exert anti-inflammatory effects by obstructing pro-inflammatory signals. They also suppressing pro-inflammatory enzymes, cytokines, and precursors to pro-inflammatory lipids.
Beetroot Extract and Heart Health
Beetroot extract may support heart health by inhibiting LDL oxidation. High levels of LDL cholesterol (often referred to as ‘bad’ cholesterol) increase the risk of heart disease and other heart health complications. LDL oxidation further increases this risk, as it promotes inflammation and plaque buildup in the arteries. Beetroot also enhances vascular vasodilation and overall intervascular function.
Beetroot Extract and Exercise Performance
Beetroots are high in nitrates, which improve how efficiently mitochondria produce cellular energy. Inorganic nitrate also improves vascularity and blood flow by boosting nitric oxide levels. Better blood flow allows for more effective nutrient and oxygen delivery to muscles during workouts. Several studies have noted that beetroot improves high-intensity exercise performance and power output while reducing muscular fatigue.
Other Potential Beetroot Extract Benefits
Beetroot extract may support sexual health and wellness by improving blood flow and sustained erectile pressure. Beetroot’s potential to enhance cognitive function, decision making, and working memory also lies in its ability to improve blood flow to the brain—particularly the frontal lobe.
Potential Beetroot Side Effects
Individuals on medications that lower blood pressure should consult a physician before taking beetroot extract, as it may further lower BP levels. In high concentrations, betanins may cause a temporary and harmless reddening effect on urine and stool (beeturia). Beets are high in oxalates and may contribute to the formation of calcium oxalate kidney stones in individuals prone to developing them.
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