New class of antioxidants found in red beets.




Free Radic Res

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Antioxidants have received much attention especially during the past two decades. However, the study of antioxidants began in the 50’s. In 1956, Denham Harmon, M.D. from the University of Nebraska published his “Free Radical Theory of Aging.” Initially the scientific community was very critical and skeptical of this “radical” new theory. However, Dr. Harmon has now gained worldwide recognition and respect for his theory and free radials are now understood and accepted as the principal cause of the aging process.

It is believed that these beneficial nutrients that come from fruits and vegetables affect our bodies in a positive way by preventing some of the oxidative processes that cause cellular damage, aging and disease. The most important anti-oxidant nutrients are vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin A and its cousin beta-carotene, and the trace mineral selenium. Although there are other nutrients with anti-oxidant activity, these are the four most important ones.

Antioxidants can be classified into four major categories based on their function in the body. These are preventive antioxidants; radical scavenging antioxidants; repair and de novo antioxidants; and adaptation antioxidants. Each of these functions is involved in our basic life process.(1) Recently, a new class of antioxidants was discovered by the Agricultural Research Organization of Israel. This new class, called betalains, was found to be present in red beets. Of these betalains, the major one is called betanin. It was found that relatively low levels of betanin inhibited lipid peroxidation and heme decomposition. Investigators have concluded from their recent work with this new class of antioxidants that regular eating of beets and beet products “may provide protection against certain oxidative stress-related disorders in humans.”1


1. 1. Noguchi N, Watanabe A, Shi H. Diverse Functions of Antioxidants. Free Radic Res 2001 Dec;33(6):809-817.