Beet is a succulent, smooth herb. Erect stem is 30 to 90 centimeters long. Lower or root leaves are ovate or oblong-obtuse, often trowel-shaped, up to 25 centimeters long. Upper leaves are rhombic-ovate, oblong-ovate or lanceolate. Flowers are greenish, stalkless, solitary or 2- to 3-adnate, in axillary spikes or corymbose clusters. Spikes are slender, 15 to 45 centimeters long. Utricle is adnate to the disk and base of the perianth. Seed is horizontal with thin testa, floury albumen and annular embryo.
- Grown in many places in the Philippines, especially Baguio.
- Native to the Mediterranean.
- Widely cultivated in America, Europe, and throughout India.
• Herb contains saponin, betaine phytosterine, ash, calcium, iron, vitamins A, B and C.
• Root contain saponin, isoleucin, leucine, tyrosine, betaine, lysin, arginine, histidine, phenylalanine, urease and tyrosinase.
• Root has yielded flavonoids, carbohydrates, betain, neobetain and anthocyanin pigments.
• Root yields betanins, used industrially as a red food colorants.
• Phytochemical screening has yielded flavonoids, carbohydrates, pentose, amino acids, saponins, tannins and steroids.
• Roots traditionally used as expectorant, diuretic, and cure for mental and hepatic diseases.
• Leaves considered tonic, diuretic, anti-inflammatory.
Roots and leaves.
Edibility / Culinary
• Highly prized for their large, red, edible roots.
• Succulent fleshy roots are cooked and eaten in salads and as vegetables.
• Leaves are also boiled and eaten as a vegetable; used as substitute for spinach.
• A traditional food for Jewish Rosh Hashana (New Year.)
• A good source of calcium and iron.
• Red beet used as an emmenagogue.
• White beet is used as laxative and diuretic.
• Decoction, with a little vinegar added, used for itching, cleans scurf and dandruff. Also used for all ulcerous and running sores.
• Seeds have cooling and diaphoretic properties.
• Fresh leaves applied to burns and bruises.
• Hippocrates suggested the use of beet leaves as binding for wounds.
• In Roman times, used as aphrodisiac.
• In Turkey, used for diabetes.
• Colorant: Betanins from the roots used industrially as red food colorant, e.g., to intensify the color of tomato paste, desserts, jams, jellies, etc.
• Hepatoprotective / CCl4-Induced Hepatotoxicity:
Ethanolic extract of Beta vulgaris roots exhibited significant dose-dependent hepatoprotective activity against carbon tetrachloride-induced hepatotoxicity in rats. (1)
Chard (B vulgaris L var. cicla) is used as a hypoglycemic agent in diabetic patients in Turkey. The study showed the plant extract when administered by gavage may reduce blood sugar by regeneration of beta cells. (2) Study evaluated chard extracts on its effect on the liver.
• Anti-Adhesion Activity:
Study showed B vulgaris (beet) root has the potential of interfering with adhesion of bacteria to host epithelial surfaces. (3)
• Cytotoxicity Reduction:
A crude extract of leaves of Indian spinach (B vulgaris L var. benghalensis) was observed to modify significantly the cytotoxic effects of a known carcinogen, lead subacetate, in mice in vivo (4).
• Antioxidant / Duodenal Protecting Effect: Study concludes table beet can protect the entire body from oxidative damage caused by ischemia-reperfusion of the liver but the effects on gut mucosa needs further investigation. (5)
Study of aqueous extract showed anti-inflammatory activity in the carrageenan-induced rat paw oedema, closely resembling indomethacin. (6)
• Betanine / Natural Red Dye:
Beetroot is the main source for the natural red dye. (FDA approved E162) The main component of the extracted "beetroot red" is betanine. Studies have shown betanines have antioxidant, antimicrobial, and antiviral activities. The study is on the development of a statistical method for optimizing extraction conditions. (9)
• Cytotoxicity / Anti-Cancer:
Study evaluated the cytotoxic effect of red beetroot extract with anticancer drug, doxorubicin (adriamycin) in human prostate cancer cells and human breast cancer cells. Results showed betanin, the major betacyanin constituent, may play a role in the cytotoxicity exhibited by the red beetroot extract. (10)
• Hepatoprotective / Ethanol-Medicated Hepatotoxicity:
Study showed an n-butanol fraction of Beta vulgaris to possess potent hepatoprotective effect against ethanol-induced hepatic toxicity, with a potential role in the management of alcoholic liver disease. Silymarin was the reference drug. (11)
• Peroxidase Source / Production:
Peroxidase is an enzyme that plays a crucial role in scavenging free radicals within the plant system. Commercially they are components in chemical diagnostics and laboratory experiments. Study showed the red beet hairy root system is a promising source for the production of this expensive enzyme. (12)
• Hematopoietic Benefits / Anemia Remedy:
Study in experimental rat models showed a methanolic root extract produced dose-dependent increase in packed cell volume, hemoglobin concentration, RBC counts, and total lymphocyte counts. (13)
• Phenolics Content:
Total phenolic contents in roots parts were found to decrease in the order peel, crown, flesh. Cold storage produced significant differences. (14)
• Pharmaceutical Excipient / Disintegrating Agent:
Study showed Beta vulgaris pulp powder is a good pharmaceutical adjuvant, specifically as a disintegrating agent. (15)
• Radiotherapy and Benefits of Beta vulgaris Supplementation:
Study showed supplementation of Beta vulgaris in irradiated patients did not worsen survival time. There was reduction of acute radiation reactions, and level markers of oxidative stress/DNA damage were not influenced. Results suggest supplementation of Beta vulgaris in irradiated patients is safe. (16)
• Anti-Inflammatory / Roots:
An ethanolic extract of B. vulgaris roots showed good anti-inflammatory activity on carrageenan-induced rat paw edema method. (17)
• Hepatoprotective in Diabetes: Study evaluated chard extracts on its effect on the liver of diabetic rats. In the diabetic group given chard, serum enzymes, total lipid level, sialic and uric acid levels, blood glucose and liver LPO and NEG levels decreased. Results conclude the extract has a protective effect on liver in diabetes mellitus. (18)
• Chemical Composition of Leaves during Developmental Stages: Study showed beetroot leaves are an excellent source of omega-3, in addition to having significant antioxidant activity and total phenolic compounds and minerals. Chemical constituents changed during developmental stages, with the 100-day leaves showing the greatest amount of omega 3 and 6 and TPC. Results the food uses and nutritional value of in natura and dehydrated beetroot leaves. (19)
• Antiproliferative / Immunomodulatory: Study evaluated the various concentrations of methanolic extracts of roots for in vitro anti-proliferative and in-vivo immunomodulatory activity of Beta vulgaris against MCF7 breast cancer cell line. Results showed in vitro inhibition of tumor cell growth. It showed immunomodulatory effects in-vivo via assessment of humoral antibody response and delayed-type hypersensitivity response. (20)
• Antiproliferative / Immunomodulatory: In the study of STZ-induced diabeic rats, the augmented triglyceride and cholesterol due to diabetes were significantly decreased by the Beta vulgaris plant extract. (21)