Research shows that beetroot and beetroot juice consumption have short-term human health benefits thanks to naturally occurring actives. Unfortunately, beetroot is also naturally rich in an anti-nutrient that could cause negative health consequences. These include mild stomach irritation, kidney failure and severe cases of poisoning. Beetroot juice is also rich in sugars that have no significant contribution to any of the reported positive health outcomes. Such sugars significantly increase the juice’s caloric content. The EU-funded SOFBJ_PRODHUMHEALTH (Sugar and oxalate free beetroot juice: Production and assessment of its human health benefits) project set out to establish the feasibility of a new, healthier beetroot juice using mild processing, and to compare its health benefits with conventional beetroot juices. After investigating several mild procedures, project partners developed a mild process that generates a healthier juice composition from beetroot or any other fruit or vegetable juice without compromising human health benefits. They then produced the healthier beetroot juice at food-grade status and in sufficient quantities to conduct human trials. Researchers assessed the juice against its established equivalent. They also evaluated its health benefits in cerebral blood flow parameters, cognition and mood. For these health domains, results reveal no significant differences in the attributes studied between the healthier and conventional beetroot. The SOFBJ_PRODHUMHEALTH team filed a draft patent for the newly discovered healthy juice composition and the corresponding mild process. Discussions are underway with industrial partners to scale up the technological breakthrough. Thanks to SOFBJ_PRODHUMHEALTH, the production and characterisation of beetroot juice will pave the way for its use as a multifunctional ingredient in the food industry. The existence of such ingredients will lead to the development of functional foods with a variety of consumer benefits, such as reduced hypertension and increased mental acuity and athletic performance.
Beetroot juice, health benefits, SOFBJ_PRODHUMHEALTH, oxalate free