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Family Chenopodiaceae

Beta vulgaris Linn.

Hong niu pi cai

Scientific names Common names
Beta vulgaris Linn. Beet (Engl.)
Beta maritima Linn. Common beet (Engl.)
Beta vulgaris L. spp. maritima (L.) Arcang. Garden beet (Engl.)
  Remolacha (Span.)
  Hong niu pi cai (Chin.)

Beet is a succulent, smooth herb. Erect stem is 30 to 90 cm long. Lower or root leaves are ovate or oblong-obtuse, often trowel shaped, up to 25 cm 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 cm 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.

Parts utilized
Roots and leaves.

• 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.

• 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.
Colorant: Betanins from the roots used industrially as red food colourant, e.g., to intensify the color of tomato paste, desserts, jams, jellies, etc.

Hepatoprotective: Ethanolic extract of Beta vulgaris roots exhibited significant dose-dependent hepatoprotective activity against carbon tetrachloride-induced hepatotoxicity in rats.
Antidiabetic: 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.
Anti-Adhesion Activity: Study showed B vulgaris (beet) root has the potential of interfering with adhesion of bacteria to host epithelial surfaces.
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.

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.
Anti-Inflammatory: Study of aqueous extract showed anti-inflammatory activity in the carrageenan-induced rat paw oedema, closely resembling indomethacin.


Last Update June 2011

Photo © Godofredo Stuart / StuartXchange
IMAGE SOURCE / Beta maritima / Walter Hood Fitch / Illustrations of the British Flora (1924) / GFDL by Kurt Stueber. Source: www.biolib.de / alterVISTA

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings
Hepatoprotective activity of Beta vulgaris against CCl4-induced hepatic injury in rats / M Agarwal et al / Fitoterapia, Volume 77, Issue 2, February 2006, Pages 91-93doi:10.1016/j.fitote.2005.11.004
Effects of chard (Beta vulgaris L. var. cicla) extract on pancreatic B cells in streptozotocin-diabetic rats: a morphological and biochemical study / S Bolkent, R Yanarda et al / Journal of Ethnopharmacology,
Volume 73, Issues 1-2, November 2000, Pages 251-259 / doi:10.1016/S0378-8741(00)00328-7

Dietary supplementation with leaf extract of Beta vulgaris L. var. benghalensis Hort. in modifying cytotoxicity of lead subacetate in mouse in vivo / Phalguni Nandi et al / Phytotherapy Research, Vol 11 Issue 4, Pages 273 - 276 / DOI 10.1002/(SICI)1099-1573(199706)11:4<273::AID-PTR73>3.0.CO;2-5
Duodenum protecting effects of table beet (Beta vulgaris L. ssp. esculenta var. rubra) during hepatic ischaemia-reperfusion / L Vali et al / Acta Alimentaria, Vol 35, Number 4/December 2006 / DOI 10.1556/AAlim.35.2006.4.8
Anti-Inflammatory Activity of Aqueous Extract of Beta Vulgaris L. / Swati Jain, Vipin Kumar Garg and Pramod Kumar Sharma / Journal of Basic and Clinical Pharmacy

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