Beetroot tzatziki and the potential health benefits of beetroot

Beetroot tzatzikiThis is a pretty cool variation of the classic Greek dip tzatziki. I like the colour, texture and flavour provided by the beetroot. Plus red beetroot, Beta vulgaris rubra, has a number of compounds with potential health benefits. A recent review on the potential benefits of red beetroot supplementation published in the journal Nutrients outlines the bioactive compounds in beetroot, which include nitrates, phenolics, ascorbic acid, carotenoids and betalains (I have mentioned these in a previous post) (1).


Beetroot has a high content of inorganic nitrate (250mg/kg of fresh weight) (2). This has prompted a lot of the recent interest in beetroot. Nitrate is metabolized to form nitric oxide (NO) and this molecule has multiple effects in the human body, one of the most important being maintenance of endothelial function. The endothelium is a thin layer of cells that line the inside of blood vessels.

The inorganic nitrates in beetroot are highly bioavailable, with reports showing virtually 100% absorption after digestion (3), meaning that you may actually obtain a sufficient level of nitrates from eating beetroot to have a physiological effect.

Studies in healthy human subjects have shown that beetroot supplements can improve endothelial function (4, 5). However, studies involving volunteers with disease states that increase their risk of endothelial dysfunction, such as type 2 diabetes, have not shown any improvements (6, 7).

Two recent human studies have looked at the influence of dietary nitrate in the form of beetroot juice on cerebral blood flow, which may improve cognitive function. Both studies showed an increase in cerebral blood flow in response to beetroot juice in healthy, young subjects (8, 9).


Beetroot contains several phenolics, including rutin, epicatechin and caffeic acid, which are potent antioxidants (10). Studies conducted using beetroot juice supplements have reported protection against oxidative damage to DNA, lipid and protein structures in human cell lines and in animals (11-14), however, to date similar studies have not been conducted in humans.

The phenolic compounds found in beetroot, in particular beetroot juice, are well absorbed and thus are bioavailable (15), which suggests that consuming beetroot and beetroot juice may offer some protection against oxidative damage.


The betalains in beetroot, betacyanin and betaxanthin, are also powerful antioxidants (16). Furthermore, these compounds are potent anti-inflammatory agents. The anti-inflammatory effects of beetroot extracts have been shown in human cell lines (17) and in animals (18, 19), but again the studies in humans are lacking.

There is clearly promising evidence that beetroot contains compounds that have powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and vascular-protective effects supported by studies with human cell lines, animals and some human data, and that these compounds are bioavailable. So improve your health by making this whole food Beetroot tzatziki.

I made this with a low fat Greek yoghurt but in hindsight I would have used full fat for a creamier texture. I added the coconut cream for an extra hint of sweetness. Also, I processed the beetroot, but I would like to try grating it next time to see how this texture turns out. This dip is great with carrot sticks, with salad or as a spread.

Beetroot tzatziki


1 cup Greek yoghurt

1 tablespoon coconut cream

1 clove garlic

½ tablespoon fresh dill, packed down

½ a large beetroot, peeled and roughly chopped

Salt, to taste


  • Add the Greek yoghurt, coconut cream and garlic to a food processor. Process until well combined.
  • Add the beetroot and dill and continue processing, leaving some small chunks of beetroot.
  1. Clifford, T., Howatson, G., West, D. and Stevenson, E. (2015). The Potential Benefits of Red Beetroot Supplementation in Health and Disease. Nutrients. 7: 2801-2822.
  2. Ormsbee, M., Lox, J., Arciero, P. (2013). Beetroot juice and exercise performance. J. Int. Soc Sports Nutr. 5: 27-35.
  3. Van Velzen, A., Sips, A., Schothorst, R., Lambers, A. and Meulenbelt, J. (2008). The oral bioavailablity of nitrate from nitrate-rich vegetables in humans. Toxicol. Lett. 181: 177-181.
  4. Webb, A., Patel, N., Loukogeorgakis, S. Okorie, M., Aboud, Z., Misra, S., Rashid, R., Miall, P., Deanfield, J., Benjamin, N., MacAllister, R., Hobbs, A. and Ahluwalia, A. (2008). Acute Blood Pressure Lowering, Vasoprotective, and Antiplatelet Properties of Dietary Nitrate via Bioconversion to Nitrite. Hypertension. 51:784-790
  5. Hobbs, D., Goulding, M., Nguyen, A., Malaver, T., Walker, C., George, T., Methven, L. and Lovegrove, J. (2013). Acute Ingestion of Beetroot Bread Increases Endothelium-Independent Vasodilation and Lowers Diastolic Blood Pressure in Healthy Men: A Randomized Controlled. Trial J. Nutr. 143: 1399-1405.
  6. Kenjale, A., Ham, K., Stabler, T., Robbins, J., Johnson, J., VanBruggen, M., Privette, G., Yim, E., Kraus, W., and Allen, J. (2011). Dietary nitrate supplementation enhances exercise performance in peripheral arterial disease. Journal of Applied Physiology. 110: 1582-1591.
  7. Gilchrist, M., Winyard, P., Aizawa, K., Anning, C., Shore, A., and Benjamin, N. (2013). Effect of dietary nitrate on blood pressure, endothelial function, and insulin sensitivity in type 2 diabetes. Free Radical Biology and Medicine. 60: 89-97.
  8. Presley, T., Morgan, A., Bechtold, E., Clodfelter, W., Dove, R., Jennings, J., Kraft, R., King, S., Laurienti, P., Rejeski, W., Burdette, J., Kim-Shapiro, D. and Miller, G. (2011). Acute effect of a high nitrate diet on brain perfusion in older adults. Nitric Oxide. 24: 34-42.
  9. Bond, V. Jr., Curry, B., Adams, R., Asadi, M., Millis, R. and Haddad, E. (2013). Effects of Dietary Nitrates on Systemic and Cerebrovascular Hemodynamics. Cardiology Research and Practice. 2013: Article ID 435629.
  10. Georgiev, V. G., Weber, J., Kneschke, E., Denev, P., Bley, T. and Pavlov, A. (2010). Antioxidant Activity and Phenolic Content of Betalain Extracts from Intact Plants and Hairy Root Cultures of the Red Beetroot Beta vulgaris cv. Detroit Dark Red. Plant Foods Hum. Nutr. 65: 105-111.
  11. Pietrzkowski, Z.; Nemzer, B.; Spórna, A.; Stalica, P.; Tresher, W.; Keller, R.; Jiminez, R.; Michalowski, T.; Wybraniec, S. (2010). Influence of betalin-rich extracts on reduction of discomfort associated with osteoarthritis. New. Med. 1: 12–17.
  12. Kujawska, M.; Ignatowicz, E.; Murias, M.; Ewertowska, M.; Mikołajczyk, K.; Jodynis-Liebert, J. (2009). Protective effect of red beetroot against carbon tetrachloride- and N-nitrosodiethylamine-induced oxidative stress in rats. J. Agric. Food Chem. 57: 2570–2575.
  13. Winkler, C.; Wirleitner, B.; Schroecksnadel, K. (2005). In vitro effects of beetroot juice on stimulated and unstimulated peripheral blood mononuclear Cells. Am. J. Biochem. Biotechnol. 1: 180.
  14. Vulić, J.J.; Ćebović, T.N.; Čanadanović-Brunet, J.M.; Ćetković, G.S.; Čanadanović, V.M.; Djilas, S.M.; Tumbas Šaponjac, V.T. (2014). In vivo and in vitro antioxidant effects of beetroot pomace extracts. J. Funct. Foods. 6: 168–175.
  15. Netzel, M., Stintzing, F., Quaas, D., Strass, G., Carle, R. Bitsch, R. and Frank, T. (2005). Renal excretion of antioxidative constituents from red beet in humans. Food. Res. Int. 38: 1051-1058.
  16. Kanner, J., Harel, S., Granit, R. (2001). Betalains A New Class of Dietary Cationized Antioxidants. J. Agric. Food. Chem. 49: 5178-5185.
  17. Vidal, P., Lopez-Nicolas, J., Gandia-Herrero, F., Garcia-Carmona, F. (2014). Inactivation of liopoxygenase and cyclooxygenase by natural betalains and semi-synthetic analogues. Food Chem. 154: 246-254.
  18. El Gamal, A., AlSaid, M., Raish, M., et al., (2014). Beetroot (Beta vulgaris L.) Extract Ameliorates Gentamicin-Induced Nephrotoxicity Associated Oxidative Stress, Inflammation, and Apoptosis in Rodent Model. Mediators of Inflammation, 2014: Article ID 983952.
  19. Tan, D., Wang, Y., Bai, B., Yang, X. and Han, L. (2015). Betanin attenuates oxidative stress and inflammatory reaction in kidney of paraquat-treated rat. Food and Chemical Toxicology. 78: 141-146.

One thought on “Beetroot tzatziki and the potential health benefits of beetroot

  1. Pingback: Beetroot coleslaw | I can't believe that's healthy

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