The burden of diabetes is increasing faster than ever, as a result of rising rates of obesity. Fortunately, the condition can be managed with minor dietary modifications.
A smoothie with a wide range of healthy qualities has been shown to lower blood glucose levels in a time frame as short as 15 minutes.
Beetroot juice contains a wide range of healthy qualities, and the naturally occurring chemicals that give it its rich purple color – known as betalains – are powerful antioxidants.
But the wonderful health qualities of beetroot are mainly due to its rich nitrate content.
These compounds are involved in many important metabolic processes that may act as a barrier against risk factors associated with diabetes.
An analysis, published in the medical journal Metabolites earlier this year, determined that nitrates in beetroot juice can lower glucose levels in just 15 minutes.
The analysis cites one 2018 study, which looked at 10 healthy volunteers who received 270ml of beetroot juice.
The beetroot juice intervention saw “a decrease in blood glucose levels at 15, 30, 90 and 180 minutes” compared to the control sample.
The researchers said the results showed a decrease in the early stage and peak glucose, as well as a delay in responding to blood sugar.
A separate 2017 study yielded similar results after giving participants 300g of carbohydrates in a meal containing either 250ml of beetroot juice, or 250ml of water.
The results showed that the levels of glucose in the blood three hours after the meal decreased significantly in the test condition, than in the control group.
The findings add evidence to a series of research supporting the benefits of beetroot for individuals with diabetes.
And beets store nitrates in their roots, as do other plants including celery, watercress, and radish, all of which are abundant in nitrate.
It is widely believed that nitrate is the main bioactive agent in beetroot, as it can be broken down into nitric oxide. This plays a vital role in the regulation of blood vessels and glucose metabolism.
Nitrates are absorbed through the intestinal wall and transferred to the blood plasma. About 60 to 75% of this nitrate is lost in secretion within 48 hours of consumption, but the remaining 25% will remain concentrated in saliva.
Furthermore, the bacteria that live in the mouth will convert the remaining nitrate into more nitrate.
Once converted to nitric oxide, nitrates increase blood flow to various organs, which may have a Viagra-like effect.
Food safety guidelines advise not to eat a lot of beetroot because it may form nitrosamines, which has been linked to stomach cancers.