162 Beet Red

Posted 25 Oct 2023
162 Beet Red

What is beet red, and where is it used?

Beet red, E162, refers to a natural red pigment derived from beet root, Beta vulgaris, specifically from the betalain compounds present in the vegetable [1-2]. It is a vibrant, deep red colour that is commonly used as a natural food colouring agent in various industries. Beet red is used in a wide range of applications, including food and beverage products such as juices, sauces, candies, and baked goods, to add a visually appealing red hue. Due to its natural origin, beet red is often preferred by consumers seeking alternatives to synthetic food dyes [3]. Its versatility and eye-catching red shade make beet red a popular choice for manufacturers looking to enhance the visual appeal of their products while meeting consumer demands for natural ingredients.

Purported Health Benefits

  • Antioxidant Properties: Beet red contains betalains, which act as antioxidants, helping to neutralise harmful free radicals and protect cells from oxidative stress [1-4].

  • Cardiovascular Support: Some studies suggest that beet red may support cardiovascular health by promoting healthy blood pressure levels and improving blood flow due to its high nitrate content [2].

  • Exercise Performance Enhancement: The nitrates in beet red have been associated with improved exercise performance and endurance by enhancing oxygen utilisation and reducing the oxygen cost of exercise [5].

  • Anti-Inflammatory Effects: Beet red's betalains may possess anti-inflammatory properties, potentially reducing inflammation and related symptoms in the body [2, 3].

  • Detoxification Support: Beet red is believed to support liver function and aid in detoxification due to its betalain compounds [6].

  • Digestive Health Promotion: The fibre content in beets, which contributes to beet red's colour, can support digestive health by promoting regularity and supporting a healthy gut environment [7].

  • Nutrient Richness: Beet red contains essential vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients, including folate, potassium, vitamin C, and betalains, which contribute to overall health and well-being [8]

  • Cognitive Function: Some research suggests that beet red's nitrate content may enhance cognitive function and blood flow to the brain, potentially benefiting brain health and cognition [9].

  • Eye Health: The betalains in beet red have been associated with potential benefits for eye health and protection against age-related macular degeneration (AMD) [10].

  • Anti-Cancer Potential: Preliminary studies suggest that beet red's betalains may possess anti-cancer properties, although more research is needed to establish its effectiveness [4].

Recommendations for Safe Consumption

  • Moderation: Consume beet red in moderation as part of a balanced diet. While beet red is generally considered safe, excessive consumption may lead to certain health risks or interactions with medications [3].

  • Allergies and Sensitivities: Be aware of potential allergies or sensitivities to beets or betalain compounds [3]. If you have a known allergy to beets or experience adverse reactions after consuming them, it's advisable to avoid beet red or consult a healthcare professional.

  • Interaction with Medications: If you are taking medications, especially blood pressure-lowering drugs or medications for erectile dysfunction (due to potential nitrate content), consult your healthcare provider to ensure there are no adverse interactions between the medications and beet red [11-12].

  • Organic and Quality Sources: Choose organic beet red or products made from reputable sources to minimise the risk of exposure to pesticides or contaminants.

  • Individual Variations: Understand that individual responses to beet red may vary. While it offers potential health benefits, some individuals may experience digestive discomfort or changes in urine or stool colour after consuming beets. If you have any concerns or experience adverse effects, consult a healthcare professional.

  • Dietary Considerations: Incorporate beet red as part of a varied diet that includes a wide range of fruits, vegetables, and nutrients to ensure overall nutritional balance.


  1. Khan MI, Giridhar P. Plant betalains: Chemistry and biochemistry. Phytochemistry. 2015 Sep 1;117:267-95.

  2. Sadowska-Bartosz I, Bartosz G. Biological properties and applications of betalains. Molecules. 2021 Apr 26;26(9):2520.

  3. Lis K, Bartuzi Z. Plant Food Dyes with Antioxidant Properties and Allergies—Friend or Enemy?. Antioxidants. 2023 Jun 28;12(7):1357.

  4. Georgiev VG, Weber J, Kneschke EM, Denev PN, Bley T, Pavlov AI. 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 for human nutrition. 2010 Jun;65:105-11.

  5. Montenegro CF, Kwong DA, Minow ZA, Davis BA, Lozada CF, Casazza GA. Betalain-rich concentrate supplementation improves exercise performance and recovery in competitive triathletes. Applied physiology, nutrition, and metabolism. 2017;42(2):166-72.

  6. Krajka-Kuźniak V, Paluszczak J, Szaefer H, Baer-Dubowska W. Betanin, a beetroot component, induces nuclear factor erythroid-2-related factor 2-mediated expression of detoxifying/antioxidant enzymes in human liver cell lines. British Journal of Nutrition. 2013 Dec;110(12):2138-49.

  7. Masih D, Singh N, Singh A. Red beetroot: A source of natural colourant and antioxidants: A review. Journal of Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry. 2019;8(4):162-6.

  8. Hussain EA, Sadiq Z, Zia-Ul-Haq M. Betalains: biomolecular aspects. London: Springer International Publishing; 2018 Sep 24.

  9. Clifford T, Howatson G, West DJ, Stevenson EJ. The potential benefits of red beetroot supplementation in health and disease. Nutrients. 2015 Apr;7(4):2801-22.

  10. De Mejia EG, Zhang Q, Penta K, Eroglu A, Lila MA. The colors of health: Chemistry, bioactivity, and market demand for colorful foods and natural food sources of colorants. Annual Review of Food Science and Technology. 2020 Mar 25;11:145-82.

  11. Babarykin D, Smirnova G, Pundinsh I, Vasiljeva S, Krumina G, Agejchenko V. Red beet (Beta vulgaris) impact on human health. Journal of biosciences and medicines. 2019 Mar 1;7(3):61-79.

  12. Bonilla Ocampo DA, Paipilla AF, Marín E, Vargas-Molina S, Petro JL, Pérez-Idárraga A. Dietary nitrate from beetroot juice for hypertension: a systematic review. Biomolecules. 2018 Nov 2;8(4):134.


We do our best to source robust information from a number of credible sources.  There is, however, a large amount of information on various aspects of nutritional elements along with  claims in terms of their contribution to helping in body health which may contradict the above.