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Health food of the month - Beetroot

April 2012  

Previous Health Foods of the Month...



Manuka honey



Diet & Supplements Index


BeetrootDid you ever have beetroot cut into small cubes and served up in school dinners? They were certainly a regular item when I was a child and we all used to hate it. The colour, the taste, everything about beetroot turned us off, which was a shame because beetroot really is crammed full of excellent nutritional properties.

Beetroot is a very good source of a wide range of useful antioxidants and nutrients including magnesium, sodium, potassium, vitamin C and betaine. It is especially high in folate (vitamin B9) and also has iron, phosphorous and zinc.

But along with all that, the current most talked about aspect of beetroot is its high nitrate level and the connection with reducing blood pressure.

Doctors, including top researchers at the Royal London Hospital and Queen Mary University of London, have spent many years studying the effect of nitrates on the body. Evidently when we swallow nitrates, they produce nitric oxide which is enormously powerful in helping to keep blood pressure low. In healthy people, blood vessels produce nitric oxide all the time and it has a very important role in keeping blood vessels open. This means blood can flow through the blood vessel more easily so the pressure in reduced. Nitric oxide also prevents fatty lipid deposits that can be the start of a build up of blockages in the arteries.

Initially it was thought that around a pint of beetroot juice was needed every day to produce useful levels of nitric oxide, but later recommendations say that only 250ml a day can have very good effect on blood pressure.

Some people worry about the colour of beetroot, but the good news is that while it looks appalling, especially if it spills onto a cloth or clothing, it washes out quickly and easily. Beetroot can be eaten raw, or gently steamed to maintain maximum nutritional properties and there are numerous recipes available using beetroot in many different recipes.




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