The health benefits of beetroot by Alex Bramwell


senior member
Concord, NH
A 2009 study by the British University of Exeter found that drinking beetroot juice boosts stamina and allows people to exercise for up to 16% longer. The study, published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, suggests that the high levels of nitrate in beetroot reduces the uptake of oxygen during exercise making it less tiring. Research published in the American Heart Association journal Hypertension showed that drinking beetroot juice reduced blood pressure within one hour with the effects lasting for 24 hours. Several studies have also attributed anti inflammatory properties to beetroot and it has proved effective against cancers during in vitro testing. Add to these remarkable properties the high levels of folate, antioxidants and vitamins in the humble purple root and you start to understand why it is being hailed as a super food.

A 100 g (3.5 oz) serving of the cooked root supplies 20% of the RDI of folate (folic acid) making a useful food for pregnant women who need to consume folic acid to reduce the risk of spina bifida. Beetroot is also rich in magnesium (6% of RDI), vitamin C (6% RDI), and the bioactive red pigment betaine, an anthocyanin that is said to protect the live and bile ducts and may lower blood pressure. Beetroot also contains several B vitamins and potassium (6% RDI), phosphorus (5% RDI) and zinc.

Beetroot is relatively rich in sugars but is low in calories and very high in fiber. A 100 g (3.5 oz) serving provides 2 grams of dietary fiber but only 43 kcal. Seven slices of beetroot or three whole baby beets count as one of your five daily portions of fruit and veg.

The health benefits of beetroot have popular knowledge for a long time; the ancient Roman's so valued its restorative powers that surviving frescos from the brothels at Pompeii contain images of beetroot. It may owe its aphrodisiac qualities to high levels of boron; an essential mineral for the production of human sex hormones.

It is not only the roots of the beet plants that are healthy. Beet greens are also edible and nutritious. A raw serving contains high levels of vitamin C (19% RDI), vitamin A (48% RDI) and vitamin K (190% RDI).

Beetroot may make your urine go pink (a harmless side effect of the red pigments it contains) and it is not one of Barak Obama's favorite foods (according to the New York Times) but it isn't half good for you!

RDI: Recommended Daily Intake

Beetroot Boosts Stamina: lth/8186947.stm

Beetroot Reduces Blood Pressure: 8420.stm

Beet Greens Nutritional Data: facts/vegetables-and-vegetable -products/2352/2

Beetroot Nutritional Data: eetroot

Learn more about this author, Alex Bramwell.


Senior Member
I don't know if this is a good supplement for ME/CFS patients. Beetroot is a nitrate rich food and nitrates bind to the blood vessel NO receptor which induces direct and fast vasodilation. That's highly beneficial in (endurance) sports, but ME/CFS patients already have MASSIVE nitric oxide metabolites in their bloods after exercise. That clearly shows something is wrong in them.

Nitric oxide metabolite production during exercise in chronic fatigue syndrome: a case-control study.
Surez A, Guillam E, Roig T, Blzquez A, Alegre J, Bermdez J, Ventura JL, Garca-Quintana AM, Comella A, Segura R, Javierre C.

Department of Physiological Sciences II, Medical School, University of Barcelona, L'Hospitalet, Barcelona, Spain.

BACKGROUND: Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a disabling illness of unknown etiology that is characterized by fatigue associated with a reduced ability to work, lasting for more than 6 months, and accompanied by a specific set of symptoms. The diagnosis remains difficult because of the absence of laboratory tests and is, therefore, made largely on the basis of the symptoms reported by the patient. The aim of this study was to analyze differences in blood nitrate levels in CFS patients and a matched control group after a physical exercise test.

METHODS: Forty-four consecutive female patients with CFS and 25 healthy women performed an exercise test using a cycle ergometer with monitoring of cardiopulmonary response. Blood samples were obtained for biochemical analyses of glucose, lactate, and nitrates at the beginning (under resting conditions) and after the maximal and supramaximal tests.

RESULTS: Plasma nitrates differed between the groups, with higher values in the CFS group (F = 6.93, p = 0.003). Nitrate concentration increased in relation to workload and reached higher values in the CFS group, the maximum difference with respect to the control group being 295% (t = 4.88, p < 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS: The main result of the present study is that nitric oxide (NO) metabolites (nitrates) showed a much higher increase after a maximal physical test in CFS patients than in a group of matched subjects. This combination (exercise plus NO response evaluation) may be useful in the assessment of CFS.

Offcourse it contains more than only nitrates (like vitamins and anti-oxidants), but I wouldn't recommend a ME/CFS products containing beetroot. Just to be safe.