The unique crimson-red color of the red beet is due to betalain pigments, such as betanin and betacyanin. Yellow varieties are rich in B-xanthin pigment. Both the root and top leaves of beets are used for consumption. Beets are very low in calories with only 45 per 100 grams, and have no cholesterol.
The root is a rich source of the phytochemical compound, glycine betaine. Betaine has the property of lowering homocysteine levels within the blood. Homocysteine, one of the most highly toxic metabolites, promotes platelet clot as well as atherosclerotic-plaque formation. This can be harmful to our blood vessels. High levels of homocysteine in the blood result in the development of coronary heart disease, stroke, and peripheral vascular diseases.
Raw beets are an excellent source of folates. They contain about 27 percent of our RDA. Extensive cooking however, may significantly deplete its level in. Folates are necessary for DNA synthesis within the cells. When given during the peri-conception period, folates can prevent neural tube defects in the baby.
Fresh tubers contain small amounts of vitamin-C. Its top greens however, are rather excellent sources of this vitamin. 100 grams of beet greens provide 50 percent of our RDA. Vitamin-C is one of the powerful natural antioxidants, which helps the human body scavenge deleterious free radicals, which is one of the causes of cancer development.
Additionally, the top greens are an excellent source of carotenoids, flavonoid anti-oxidants, and vitamin-A. Much more of these compounds are contained in the leaves, several times more than that of which is in the root. Vitamin-A is required for maintaining healthy mucus membranes, as well as skin, and is essential for vision. Consumption of natural vegetables rich in flavonoids also helps to protect from lung and oral cavity cancers.
The root is also a rich source of B-complex vitamins such as niacin (B-3), pantothenic acid (B-5), pyridoxine (B-6) and minerals such as iron, manganese, copper, and magnesium. Furthermore, the root has very good levels of potassium. 100 grams of fresh root has 7 percent of our daily requirement. Potassium lowers our heart rate and regulates our metabolism inside our cells by countering the detrimental effects of sodium.
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