Beetroot juice is a better source of betalains than supplements are
Yesterday we've done our best to alienate our faithful readers by extolling the virtues of the performance enhancing effects of betalains, a group of compounds found in Beta vulgaris. Commonly known as beetroot. We've found a publication from 2001 in which it seems that athletes who want to experiment with betalains can do so perfectly well without having to buy expensive supplements.
In the study we wrote about yesterday triathletes took two capsules a day of a pricey beetroot extract. Each capsule contained 50 mg extract, of which 12.5 mg consisted of betalains.
In vitro study
In 2001 Israeli food technologists published the results of a study in which they examined the antioxidant effect of betalains in beetroot. To start with they discovered that betanin [structural formula shown above] was the most important betalain in beetroot, but they also discovered that beetroot also contains betanidin and betaxanthin.
The first HPLC chromatogram below is of unprocessed beetroot juice. The biggest peak is for betanin. The second chromatogram is of juice that had been processed with cellulase. The biggest peak is again for betanin.
In in-vitro studies betanin has been shown to have a strong antioxidant effect. The figure below shows for example that betanin blocks the peroxidation of linoleic acid better than vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol), catechin and betanidin do.
In other experiments, betanin inhibited the oxidation of LDL, which means that the substance may protect blood vessels.
Betalains are cations, the researchers wrote. In the body they search for membranes. It may be possible, we speculate, that betalain supplementation can enhance sports performance because these substances seek muscle cells' membranes and protect them against damage caused during intensive physical exercise.
The researchers have also done trials with humans, who were given betalains in the form of ordinary beet juice. The Israelis wrote that 300 ml beetroot juice contains 120 mg betanin. The researchers don't mention other betalains, but we'd guess that their amounts would be in the order of several tens of mgs.
Hmm. A big glass of beetroot juice contains 120 mg betanin. That's much more than a daily dose obtained from supplements...
"Red beet juice and other red beet products used regularly in the diet may provide protection against certain oxidative stress-related disorders in humans," the Israelis wrote.
J Agric Food Chem. 2001 Nov;49(11):5178-85.
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