Beetroot contains a whole range of active ingredients that can help to fight cancer. Firstly, the red pigment (betacyanin) found in beetroot has some anticarcinogenic properties, but not only that, beets also have the property of being able to increase the cellular intake of oxygen by as much as 400%.
This is great news, because cancer cells respond very poorly to elevated levels of oxygen. In fact, a recent study revealed that beetroot juice enabled people to exercise for up to 16% longer because they required less oxygen for the same level of aerobic activity!
Beets also contain manganese, which is needed for your body’s production of interferon, which has been shown in studies to act as a powerful anti-cancer agent.
In addition, betaine, found in beetroot, stimulates liver cells to eliminate toxins. This defence of the liver and bile ducts enables your liver to function more effectively, which detoxifies your whole system.
Many cancer patients have a heavy load placed upon their livers, so any mechanism to improve the function is a good idea. Beetroot juice not only contains high levels of betaine, but it is also alkaline which helps reverse acidosis, which is a precursor for a number of diseases. Any foods that encourage an alkaline environment set up a hostile environment for cancer, because cancer cells prefer acidic conditions within the body.
Beetroot juice has also been found to widen blood vessels, which reduces blood pressure. Just a single 250ml glass each day was clinically proven to significantly lower blood pressure just 24 hours later. Researchers discovered that the active ingredient that achieves this effect was nitrates, because nitrates formed nitric oxide in the blood. They also found that taking nitrates in tablet form achieved the same effect.
Finally, beetroot juice can also combat the effects of nitrites, (not to be confused with nitrates) which are the chemical preservatives used in cured meat products, such as ham. Nitrites have been shown to increase your risk of stomach and bowel cancer. Better to avoid nitrites in cured meats altogether, but if you don’t, then try to consume them with beetroot on the side (as part of a salad) or as beetroot juice.
One word of warning though, for anyone that has not consumed much beetroot before, not everybody has the enzymes necessary to break down the coloured pigment, so you may experience purple or red urine, which is known as beeturia. But this is perfectly harmless.