Beetroot as a Potential Functional Food for Cancer Chemoprevention, a Narrative Review

J Cancer Prev. 2021 Mar 30;26(1):1-17. doi: 10.15430/JCP.2021.26.1.1.


Patients with cancer are prone to several debilitating side effects including fatigue, insomnia, depression and cognitive disturbances. Beetroot (Beta vulgaris L.) as a health promoting functional food may be potentially beneficial in cancer. As a source of polyphenols, flavonoids, dietary nitrates and other useful nutrients, beetroot supplementation may provide a holistic means to prevent cancer and manage undesired effects associated with chemotherapy. The main aim of this narrative review is to discuss beetroot's nutrient composition, current studies on its potential utility in chemoprevention and cancer-related fatigue or treatment-related side effects such as cardiotoxicity. This review aims to provide the current status of knowledge and to identify the related research gaps in this area. The flavonoids and polyphenolic components present in abundance in beetroot support its significant antioxidant and anti-inflammatory capacities. Most in vitro and in vivo studies have shown promising results; however, the molecular mechanisms underlying chemopreventive and chemoprotective effects of beetroot have not been completely elucidated. Although recent clinical trials have shown that beetroot supplementation improves human performance, translational studies on beetroot and its functional benefits in managing fatigue or other symptoms in patients with cancer are still lacking.

Keywords: Beetroot; Betacyanin; Betanin; Betaxanthin; Cancer.

Publication types

  • Review