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Beetroot for PCOS: What are the Effects of Beet Juice? 

Lifestyle factors, including exercise and what we nourish our bodies with, play an important role in the management of PCOS and the symptoms that come with having this syndrome. Natural remedies for PCOS are always a hot topic, with apple cider vinegar, chia seeds and beet juice being touted online as PCOS “superfoods”. But what does the evidence say? Can beetroots have a positive impact on people living with PCOS? Keep reading to learn more about beetroot for PCOS.

What is PCOS?

Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is an endocrine disorder that alters how a person’s ovaries function. It can have a wide-ranging impact on both mental and physical health and according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) can affect over 116 million people with ovaries worldwide. 

PCOS is defined as a syndrome that has many symptoms attached to it, usually affecting the menstrual cycle, fertility and hormone levels in the body due to hormonal imbalances like excess testosterone levels and insulin levels.

Common symptoms of PCOS include:

  • Acne & oily skin
  • Alopecia (loss of hair on the head)
  • Hirsutism (excessive hair growth on the face and across the body) 
  • Anxiety & depression 
  • Negative body image 
  • Irregular menstrual cycle 
  • Insulin resistance
  • Inflammation

What are Beetroots?

Beetroot is a root vegetable that has a vibrant reddish-purple appearance and belongs to the same family as spinach and quinoa. It has a sweet, earthy flavour.

Benefits of beetroot

Beetroots or beets are a highly nutritious vegetable that has numerous health benefits and may contribute to improving overall health.

  1. Beetroots are rich in various nutrients such as folate, manganese, potassium, iron and vitamin C. Beets also contain small amounts of magnesium, phosphorus and vitamin B6.
  2. They are rich in antioxidants which can help to reduce inflammation in the body.
  3. Beets are high in fibre so they can help support a healthy gut microbiome and reduce the risk of constipation
  4. Beets may improve exercise performance as the nitrates in beetroot juice have been seen to increase blood flow and therefore oxygen delivery to muscles, improving stamina and endurance

But what about the potential benefits of beetroot for PCOS?

Is Beetroot good for PCOS?

Beetroot is widely known for its antioxidant properties as it contains the natural food colouring Betanin. It is believed that oxidative stress (an imbalance between antioxidants and free radicals in the body) is a major factor in PCOS because of its contribution to low-level inflammation. This red food dye found in beetroot, Betanin, may have the potential to lower oxidative stress and reduce LDL which are common issues for individuals living with PCOS.

As beetroot contains antioxidants which may help with inflammation and insulin sensitivity, no wonder beetroot and PCOS have been linked.

In a study conducted in 2018, a group of PCOS-induced rats underwent testing and observation. The researchers administered Betanin, a natural food colouring, to the rats over 30 days. The outcomes revealed a significant reduction in ovarian cysts and an impact on follicles in rats with induced Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS).

This Betanin-induced effect also contributed to notable alterations in various physiological markers, including levels of plasma glucose, cholesterol, LDL, LH, HDL, and FSH. The findings of this study suggest a potential positive influence of Betanin on the reproductive and metabolic aspects associated with PCOS in rats.

Another study prescribed people with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) a low-carbohydrate diet that included red beetroot. After three months, significant improvements were noted in the group that followed the low-carbohydrate and beetroot diet.

These beneficial effects included a considerable improvement in polycystic ovaries, hormonal balance, menstrual cycle management, and an improved possibility of conception. While this study focused on incorporating beetroot into the diets of individuals with PCOS, it’s important to recognise that the positive outcomes observed in the results were influenced by both the low carbohydrate diet and the inclusion of beetroot in the overall assessment. Plus there were only 30 people in the study, so this small study needs a larger sample size.

How can you consume beetroot in your diet? 

It’s easy for us to tell you that adding beetroot to your diet may help in the lessening of PCOS symptoms, but how do you add this vegetable to your day-to-day diet? 

Beetroot may bring flavour and nutrition to your diet such as Vitamin C and A, Folate and Iron. One popular method of consuming this root vegetable is making beetroot juice by blending or juicing the beets. However, it is crucial to remember that juicing reduces the fibre component of beets, which may result in faster sugar absorption and a rise in blood glucose levels.

To minimise blood glucose spikes and keep blood sugar levels stable, consider drinking beetroot juice with a meal or including whole beetroot into your diet, as the fibre in the whole vegetable slows the digestion and absorption of glucose (sugar) in the body. 

Beetroot may also be enjoyed in salads, roasted or steamed as a side dish, or even grated into your favourite sandwich combination. 

Key Takeaways: Beetroot for PCOS

Adding beetroot to your daily diet may benefit PCOS due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Although some studies have shown the benefits that come with consuming beetroot there is a need for more extensive and high-quality research on how beetroot can affect PCOS in humans. Please speak to your healthcare provider before making any changes to your diet to ensure it is right for you.

It is also important to note that dietary changes alone may not aid in the management of PCOS and other aspects of lifestyle should be taken into consideration such as supplementation, regular movement, stress management techniques and improved sleep hygiene. Beetroots can be incorporated as part of a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle but are not a “silver bullet” for PCOS management.

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Alex Okell ANutr Founder and Editor

Founder and Editor | Registered Associate Nutritionist

 

Founder of Be The Collective LTD [The PCOS Collective & The Endo Collective] Alex Okell ANutr is a London-based reproductive health nutritionist with experience in research, private practice and digital media. She holds a Master’s degree in Nutrition from King’s College London and has co-authored papers with the University of Cambridge, King’s College London, The Food Foundation and the Food Standards Agency. Alex offers 1:1 PCOS support in our virtual PCOS clinic.

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