April 19/Aberdeen, Scotland/BBC -- Burgers could be made healthier by adding beetroot to the ingredients, Aberdeen scientists believe. University of Aberdeen nutritionists have devised their own turkey burger, which includes extracts of the vegetable.

They believe that beetroot -- which contains antioxidants -- stops the body from absorbing the “bad” fat found in burgers.

Prof Garry Duthie, from the university's Rowett Research Institute of Nutrition and Health who is leading the research, said, "Processed food forms a major and increasing part of our diet. Consumption of high-fat convenience foods in Scotland increases year by year.

"We are looking to identify if adding a vegetable extract to processed food can actually protect the body from absorbing the 'bad' fats which exist in these types of products.

"When we eat a fatty food, a process called oxidation occurs in our stomachs, where fats are transformed into potentially toxic compounds and absorbed into the body. These compounds are linked to cancer and heart disease.

"We believe that adding a vegetable extract such as beetroot, which contains antioxidant compounds, will stop this oxidation of fat in the gut, and prohibit the body from absorbing the bad fat."

He explained, "We trialed a number of different vegetable extracts and found that the combination of turkey and beetroot in the burger tastes good and has the advantage of looking the same as a normal burger.

"Beetroot may also have the added health benefit of lowering blood pressure.

"Volunteers will be asked to eat both turkey burgers with and without beetroot, and we will monitor to see which compounds their body absorbs when they eat the different burgers.

"If we can identify that using a vegetable extract such as beetroot in processed food stops bad fat from being ingested, this could not only have significant health benefits for the public but also benefits for the processed food industry."

Duthie added:"When fats oxidise in the stomach and become toxic they essentially go rancid. It is this same process which causes foods to go off in a shop or supermarket over time.

"So introducing an antioxidant such as beetroot would slow down this oxidation process, and have the added benefit for the food industry of lengthening the shelflife of products."

 From the April 19, 2012, Prepared Foods’ Daily News