Nutritional and functional potential of Beta vulgaris cicla and rubra

Fitoterapia. 2013 Sep:89:188-99. doi: 10.1016/j.fitote.2013.06.004. Epub 2013 Jun 7.


Swiss chard (Beta vulgaris cicla, BVc) and beetroot (Beta vulgaris rubra, BVr) are vegetables of the Chenopodiaceae family, widely consumed in traditional western cooking. These vegetables represent a highly renewable and cheap source of nutrients. They can be cultivated in soils with scarce organic material and little light and water. BVc and BVr have a long history of use in folk medicine. Modern pharmacology shows that BVc extracts possess antihypertensive and hypoglycaemic activity as well as excellent antioxidant activity. BVc contains apigenin flavonoids, namely vitexin, vitexin-2-O-rhamnoside and vitexin-2-O-xyloside, which show antiproliferative activity on cancer cell lines. BVr contains secondary metabolites, called betalains, which are used as natural dyes in food industry and show anticancer activity. In this light, BVc and BVr can be considered functional foods. Moreover, the promising results of their phytochemicals in health protection suggest the opportunity to take advantage of the large availability of this crop for purification of chemopreventive molecules to be used in functional foods and nutraceutical products.

Keywords: 2,2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl; 2,2′-azino-bis(3-ethylbenzothiazoline-6-sulphonic acid); ABTS; APAF-1; Antioxidant capacity; Antitumoral activity; Apo1; Apoptosis Antigen 1; Apoptotic Protease Activating Factor-1; B-cell lymphoma 2; BAX; BSA; BVc; BVr; Bcl2; Bcl2-Associated X protein; Beta vulgaris cicla; Beta vulgaris rubra; Bovine Serum Albumin; CAA; COX; Caspase; CdK; Cellular Antioxidant Activity; Chenopodiaceae; Cicline-Dependent Kinase-interacting protein 1; Cyclin-dependent Kinase; Cyclooxygenase; Cysteine-Aspartic Proteases; DCFH-DA; DNA; DPPH; Deoxyribonucleic Acid; Dichlorofluorescein-Diacetate; ELISA; Enzyme Linked Immunosorbent Assay; Functional foods; GC-MS; GLUT2; Gas chromatography–mass spectrometry; Glucose Transporter 2; HLE; HPLC–MS; Half maximal Inhibitory Concentration; Hawthorn Leaf Extract; High Performance Liquid Chromatography–Mass Spectrometry; IC(50); LDL; Low Density Lipoprotein; MM2; MRP-2; Multidrug Resistance-associated Protein-2; NO; NOS; Nitric Oxide; Nitric Oxide Synthase; ORAC; Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity; P-glycoprotein; P-gp; PAI1; PARP; PPARγ; Paraneoplastic Ma antigen 2; Peroxisome Proliferator-Activated Receptor gamma; Plasminogen Activator Inhibitor-1; Poly-ADP Ribose Polymerase; RBC; ROS; Reactive Oxygen Species; Red Blood Cell; TBARS; Thiobarbituric Acid Reactive Substances; VOR; VOX; Vitexin-2-O-rhamnoside; Vitexin-2-O-xyloside; WAF.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / pharmacology
  • Antihypertensive Agents / pharmacology
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / pharmacology*
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology*
  • Apigenin / pharmacology*
  • Beta vulgaris / chemistry*
  • Betalains / pharmacology*
  • Diet
  • Functional Food*
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / pharmacology
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Antihypertensive Agents
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic
  • Antioxidants
  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • Plant Extracts
  • Betalains
  • Apigenin