I love the colour of this dip. The wasabi adds a bite to it. Observing and photographing the vibrant colour of this dip led me to ask the question “What actually gives beetroot its colour”? I had a look in the scientific literature and came across a number of studies investigating the antioxidant potential of beetroot.
I learned that the major pigments in beetroot that give this vegetable its deep red colour are known as betacyanins. Beetroot also contains yellow pigments known as betaxanthins. It is these pigments in beetroot, in particular betanin, that make it one of the vegetables with the highest free-radical scavenging activity (1, 2). Whether these betacyanins are actually bioavailable is questionable given their rapid renal clearance (3). In other words, you pee out these pigments, which is evident by red coloured urine. However, I did find one study that performed a simulated digestion of various foods containing betacyanins and betaxanthins and they showed that in raw red beetroot up to 50% of the betanin is bioaccessible (4).
What I found very interesting was that not all individuals who eat beetroot produce this red urine or beeturia. Betanin is very unstable at either very acidic or basic pH levels and it seems that the acidity of one’s stomach determines whether the urine is red or not after consuming beetroot. So the bioavailbility may actually vary from person to person (5).
Regardless of the potential health benefits of beetroot, this beetroot and wasabi dip is very delicious. Depending on how much you pee out, it is also likely to be good for you.
Beetroot and wasabi dip
2 large beetroot, peeled and cubed
½ cup low fat Greek yoghurt
½ tablespoon wasabi
Salt, to taste
- Place the peeled, cubed beetroot into a saucepan and cover with water. Boil until the beetroot is soft.
- Drain the beetroot and allow it to cool briefly.
- Add the beetroot to a food processor along with the Greek yoghurt, wasabi and salt. Process until a smooth consistency is achieved.
- Gliszynska-Swiglo, A., Szymusiak, H. and Malinowska, P. (2006). Betanin, the main pigment of red beet: molecular origin of its exceptionally high free radical-scavenging activity. Food Addit Contam. 11: 1079 – 1087.
- Krajka-Kuzniak, V., Paluszczak, J., Szaefer, H. and Baer-Dubowska, W. (2013). Betanin, a beetroot component, induces nuclear factor erythoid-2-related factor 2-mediated expression of detoxifying/antioxidant enzymes in human liver cell lines. Br J Nutr. 110: 2138 – 49.
- Watts, A. R., Lennard, M. S., Mason, S. L., Tucker, G. T. and Woods, H. F. (1993). Beeturia and the biological fate of beetroot pigments. Pharmacogenetics. 3: 302-11.
- Tesorier, L., Fazzari, M., Angileri, F., Gentile, C. and Livrea, M. (2008). In Vitro Digestion of Betalainic Foods. Stability and Bioaccessibility of Betaxanthins and Betacyanins and Antioxidative Potential of Food Digesta. J Argic Food Chem. 56: 10487-10492.
- Mitchell, S. (2001). Food Idiosyncrasies: Beetroot and Asparagus in the journal Drug Metabolism and Disposition. Drug Metab Dispos. 29: 539-43.