Of the twenty table beet (
ALEF.) cultivars investigated for several nutritionally important components (betaine, betanin, phenol, glucose, fructose, sucrose) formerly (Hájos
et al., 2004), cultivar Ditroit having average quality parameters was chosen for in vitro animal experiments. The hyperlipidemic rat model is suitable to study the physiological effect of table beet on the metabolic alterations and the redox homeostasis in the liver. In fatty liver, as a consequence of hyperlipidemy, the redox homeostasis is strongly injured. General biologically active compounds of table beet have indirect lipid lowering effect and antioxidant properties. Therefore, the effect of lyophilised table beet powder was studied on altered lipid metabolism and redox parameters in hyperlipidemic rats. Hyperlipidemy was induced by a fat-rich diet, and both in the control group and in the hyperlipidemic group, animals were treated with the lyophilised table beet powder (2 g bwkg
) added into rat chow for 10 days parallel with the feeding. Significant antioxidant activity of table beet was recorded in the hyperlipidemic liver. This phenomenon was expected because of the significant amount of betanin and the high total polyphenol content of the beet. Significant beneficial changes were also observed in the serum cholesterol level, alkaline phosphatase and alanine-aminotransferase activities, although a non-expected elevation was observed in the serum bilirubin level in hyperlipidemy. Non-specific H-donor activity was not changed, but protein related free SH-group concentration was decreased in the plasma. Serum triglyceride level was better after table beet treatment in normolipidemy, only. Change of redox-homeostasis was more favourable in the liver during the treatment. Diene conjugate content and the level of induced free radicals decreased during the table beet treatment in case of fatty liver. These changes were due to the bioactive components of the commercially available table beet. Consequently, table beet due to its specific qualities beneficially influences several metabolic pathways, therefore it can be considered as a functional food.