How much protein in beets?

Contents

Beets nutrition facts

Selection and storage

In the store, choose fresh, bright, firm textured beets with rich flavor and uniform size. Avoid those with slump looking or soft in consistency, over-mature and large. Whenever possible, go for the organic produce to get maximum health benefits.

In the farmer markets, often the roots with intact top greens put for sale. If you are buying a whole beet plant, then separate its tops from the root sooner since top-greens rob moisture and nutrition from the roots.

Beet greens, just like other greens, should be washed thoroughly under clean running water and rinsed in saline water for about 30 minutes to remove soil, sand, dirt, and any insecticide residues before use.

Top beet greens should be used while they are fresh. Beetroot, however, can be kept in the refrigerator set at high relative humidity for up to ten days.

Preparation and serving methods

Borscht.
Photo courtesy: ryancbore

In addition to its crispy root, fresh tender top greens and stems are also equally popular in the recipes.

To prepare, gently scrub and wash the roots in clean running water before use to remove sand, soil, and dirt. Peel the tough outer layer using a vegetable peeler. Cut the root into chunks, squares, or thin slices as you may desire.

Here are some serving tips:

Garden beets are being used in varieties of delicacies.

  • The root may be eaten raw in salads with carrot, radish, cucumber, cabbage, etc.

  • Steam the small cubes and serve warm with butter as a delicacy.

  • Pickled beets are a part of the traditional food in the southern American states.

  • Beet juice is a popular health drink.

  • In India, the roots are eaten boiled in curries with other vegetables such as carrot, potato, tomato,.

  • In Europe,cooked chunks are enjoyed as side dish with added olive oil, vinegar or lemon juice.

  • In the Europe, cooked chunks enjoyed as a side dish with added olive oil, vinegar or lemon juice.

Betanin pigments, obtained from the plant parts, are being used in food industry as colorants, e.g. to improve the color of tomato paste, sauces, dessert, jams and jellies, ice cream, sweets, etc.

Safety profile

Beeturia is a harmless condition of passing red or pink color urine after eating beets and its top greens. The condition is seen in around 10-15% of the populations who genetically unable to break down betacyanin pigment.

Beet greens contain oxalic acid, a naturally-occurring substance found in some vegetables, which may crystallize as oxalate stones in the urinary tract in some people. Therefore individuals with known history of oxalate urinary tract stones are advised to avoid eating an excess of this greens. (Medical Disclaimer).

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Further resources:

  1. Refer Stanford School of Medicine Cancer information Page- Nutrition to Reduce Cancer Risk.

  2. USDA National Nutrient database.

  3. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition-Betaine in Human nutrition.

An introduction to beetroot

Like many modern vegetables, beetroot was first cultivated by the Romans. By the 19th-century it held great commercial value when it was discovered that beets could be converted into sugar. Today, the leading commercial producers include the USA, Russia, France, Poland and Germany. Many classic beetroot recipes are associated with central and Eastern Europe including the famous beetroot soup known as borscht. Beetroot’s earthy charm has resulted in its ubiquitous influence on fashionable menus and recipes. Its delicious but distinctive flavour and nutritional status have escalated it to the root you can’t beat!

Belonging to the same family as chard and spinach, both the leaves and root can be eaten; the leaves have a bitter taste whereas the round root is sweet. Typically a rich purple colour, beetroot can also be white or golden. Due to its high sugar content, beetroot is delicious eaten raw but is more typically cooked or pickled.

Nutritional highlights

Beetroot is of exceptional nutritional value, especially the greens, which are rich in calcium, iron and vitamins A and C. Beetroots are an excellent source of folic acid and a very good source of fibre, manganese and potassium. The greens should not be overlooked – they can be cooked up and enjoyed in the same way as spinach.

A 100g serving of raw beets provides:
36 kcals 1.7g protein 0.1g fat 7.6g carbs 2.5g fibre

Historical health uses

The plant pigment that gives beetroot its rich, purple-crimson colour is betacyanin; a powerful agent, thought to help suppress the development of some types of cancer.

Beetroot is rich in fibre, exerting favourable effects on bowel function, which may assist in preventing constipation and help to lower cholesterol levels too.

Research

Beetroot fibre has been shown to increase the number of white blood cells, which are responsible for detecting and eliminating abnormal cells. Red beetroots have been ranked as one of the 10 most potent antioxidant vegetables and are also one of the richest sources of glutamine, an amino acid, essential to the health and maintenance of the intestinal tract.

Other studies have looked at the effect of beetroot juice on blood pressure. A reduction in blood pressure is beneficial for the avoidance of heart disease and stroke. Studies state that nitrate rich foods like beetroot may help in heart attack survival.

Beetroot juice has gained popularity since Paralympic gold medalist David Weir announced that a shot of the juice was his secret to success.

How to select and store

Good quality, fresh beetroots should have their greens intact. The greens should be fresh-looking with no signs of spoilage. The beetroot should be firm, smooth, and a vibrant red-purple, not soft, wrinkled or dull in colour. Fresh beets with the greens attached can be stored for three to four days in the fridge, but beets with the greens removed can be stored in the fridge for two to four weeks. Raw beets do not freeze well since they tend to become soft on thawing. Freezing cooked beetroot is fine as it retains its flavour and texture.

Tip:
Slightly limp greens can be restored to freshness if stored in the refrigerator in water. However, if it’s too late, you can simply cut them off.

Wash beets gently under cool running water, taking care not to tear the skin. It is this tough outer layer that helps keep most of the beetroot’s pigments inside the vegetable. The leaves can be steamed lightly to retain their nutritional quality. When boiling beetroot, leave the beets with their root ends and one inch of stem attached and don’t peel them until after cooking since beet juice can stain your skin.

Tip:
If your hands become stained during preparation and cooking beetroot, rub some lemon juice over them to help remove the colour.

Though available year round, beets are sweetest and most tender during their peak season, from June to October. Beets are enjoying a resurgence in popularity among modern chefs. While heirloom varieties like white and golden yellow beets make for pretty dishes, only red beets have the cancer-fighting compound betacyanin.

Safety

For some people, eating beetroot may induce beeturia; a red or pink colour in the urine or stool. It is totally harmless! Beet greens and, to a lesser extent, the roots contain high levels of oxalate. Individuals with a history of oxalate-containing kidney stones should avoid over-consuming beetroot.

Healthy beetroot recipes

Beetroot & lentil tabbouleh
Minty beetroot, feta & bulghar salad
Balsalmic beef with beetroot & rocket
Green rice with beetroot & apple salsa
Chicken, broccoli & beetroot salad with avocado pesto

This article was last reviewed on 16 September 2019 by Kerry Torrens.

Kerry Torrens BSc. (Hons) PgCert MBANT is a Registered Nutritionist with a post graduate diploma in Personalised Nutrition & Nutritional Therapy. She is a member of the British Association for Nutrition and Lifestyle Medicine (BANT) and a member of the Guild of Food Writers. Over the last 15 years she has been a contributing author to a number of nutritional and cookery publications including BBC Good Food

Jo Lewin works as a Community Nutritionist and private consultant. She is a Registered Nutritionist (Public Health) registered with the UKVRN. Visit her website at www.nutrijo.co.uk or follow her on Twitter @nutri_jo.

All health content on bbcgoodfood.com is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional. If you have any concerns about your general health, you should contact your local health care provider. See our website terms and conditions for more information.

Readers Lounge

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When it comes to a healthy routine, going natural is the surest way. There’s no short cut in achieving that natural glow that everyone is looking for.

With that said, let’s explore some of the benefits of drinking beetroot juice. Well beetroot is a sweet root vegetable that most people either love or hate. If you hate it, then by the end of this article, I bet you might change your attitude towards this amazing vegetable.

Although they have the highest sugar content of all vegetables, most people can safely eat beet roots a few times a week (and their greens in unlimited quantities), enjoying not only their sweet, earthy flavor but also their powerhouse nutrients that may improve your health in the following ways;

1. Helps lower blood pressure

Researchers found that people who drank 8 ounces of beetroot juice daily lowered both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Nitrates, compounds in beetroot juice that convert into nitric acid in the blood and help widen and relax blood vessels, are thought to be the cause.

2. Boost Your Stamina

Drinking beetroot juice has proven valuable enough in boosting your energy levels. According to a small 2012 study, drinking beetroot juice increases plasma nitrate levels and boosts physical performance.

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3. Anti-Cancer Properties

Research has shown that beetroot extract reduced multi-organ tumor formations in various animal models when administered in drinking water, for instance, while beetroot extract is also being studied for use in treating human pancreatic, breast, and prostate cancers.

4. Supports your liver

Ever heard those stories of ‘washing your blood’? Beetroot juice has proven good enough to help your liver incase it becomes overloaded due to either, a poor diet, excessive alcohol consumption, exposure to toxic substances or sedentary lifestyle. It helps in the detoxification process because it contains betaine, a substance that helps prevent or reduce fatty deposits in the liver. Betaine may also help protect your liver from toxins.

5. Rich in Valuable Nutrients and Fiber

Beets are high in immune-boosting vitamin C, fiber, and essential minerals like potassium (essential for healthy nerve and muscle function) and manganese (which is good for your bones, liver, kidneys, and pancreas). Beets also contain the B vitamin folate, which helps reduce the risk of birth defects.

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Beet greens are rich in iron.

Do you ever wonder what vitamins are in beets? Beets are a nutritional powerhouse, bursting with vitamins and other vital nutrients. Once prized only for the greens, beets are now enjoyed for the roots as well.

Beets

Beets are primarily grown as a root crop but are also prized for their tasty greens, reminiscent of their relatives spinach and Swiss Chard. Beets grow quickly and include many varieties in colors ranging from red to yellow to white and even striped.

Most beets have a sweet tasting flesh thanks to a high sugar content. Surprisingly, these sweet vegetables are also packed with vitamins and minerals. What vitamins are in beets? Read on to learn more.

What Vitamins Are in Beets?

Just what vitamins are in beets? You’ll be surprised at the variety of vitamins, as well as minerals, in beets. Here is a list of what beets provide for your body:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin B6
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin K
  • Beta-carotene
  • Calcium
  • Folate
  • Iron
  • Magnesium
  • Manganese
  • Potassium
  • Riboflavin
  • Thiamin

Vitamins Benefits

Having a list of vitamins is one thing; knowing what they do for you is far more valuable. Vitamin A is a useful antioxidant that is well known for it’s ability to reduce wrinkles. It is also essential in the utilization of protein by the body. Beta-carotene has been shown useful in preventing cancer. These are found in the beet greens especially.Vitamin B6 is used in more bodily functions than nearly any other nutrient. In fact, the nervous system requires this vitamin in order to function properly. Folate is often called “brain food” and is recommended as a supplement for all women of child bearing years because it protects babies from birth defects. Vitamin C is needed for the body to utilize folate, among other important functions.

Riboflavin, or vitamin B2, is needed for the metabolism of fats, proteins and carbohydrates. Thiamine, or vitamin B1, is important for cardiovascular health. Vitamin K is necessary for cardiovascular health, bone health and other important functions.

Minerals Benefits

Magnesium is one mineral that most people are deficient in. This deficiency can lead to heart problems, migraines, high blood pressure and more health issues. Manganese is needed for healthy nerves and immune system. Potassium is also important for your immune system as well as to regulate your heart beat. Iron is important to the oxygenation of the blood.

Other Benefits of Beets

Beets are also rich in anthocyanins. Anthocyanins help to protect and repair the DNA of your body. You’ll also get vital antioxidants from eating beets. Additionally, beets are high in fiber, high in complex carbohydrates (the good carbs), low in fat and contain no cholesterol. At only 58 calories per serving, beets are a healthy food to include in any diet.

Adding Beets to Your Diet

Beets can be enjoyed in many ways. The greens can be boiled like spinach or eaten fresh in a salad. The root are often pickled and eaten cold in salads. They are also enjoyed hot as a side dish. If you have ever eaten Borscht, you know it is a Russian soup made from beet juice.

Beets are easy to find in the grocery store, or you can grow your own if you have the space in your garden. Most varieties are ready to harvest within two months of planting. Seeds can be started in the spring and re-seeded throughout the summer for continuous crops.

If you are looking for a tasty way to include more nutrients to your diet, look no further than the lowly beet.

Are beets good for diabetes?

Studies have shown that beets demonstrate a range of powerful effects that can help reduce the impact of diabetes.

Lowering blood pressure

Share on PinterestBeets can help reduce blood pressure.

Research suggests that eating beets or drinking beet juice might benefit people with high blood pressure. High blood pressure is common among people with diabetes, particularly those with type 2 diabetes.

The presence of nitrates in beet juice is reportedly responsible for the pressure-reducing effect. These nitrates improve the ability of blood vessels to widen, promoting blood flow.

A recent study, published in the journal Hypertension, found that drinking a cup of beet juice each day seemed to cause a significant drop in blood pressure among people with hypertension.

The study involved 64 patients, aged between 18 and 85 years, with high blood pressure. Half the participants were taking medications for their condition but could not achieve their target blood pressure. The other half had not yet received treatment.

After 4 weeks, the researchers found that the 34 patients who drank a cup of beet juice each day experienced a significant, 8/4-millimeters-of-mercury (mmHg) reduction in their blood pressure levels. Those who consumed a nitrate-free juice drink did not experience these reductions.

Patients who consumed beet juice also showed a 20-percent improvement in the elasticity of their blood vessels.

Dr. Shannon Amoils from the British Heart Foundation, which funded the study, advised the following:

“The possibility of using a natural product, rather than another pill, to help lower blood pressure, is very appealing. The next step will be to see if this result can be repeated in a much larger group of people with high blood pressure and over a longer period of time.”

A 2013 review of evidence from 16 trials, involving a total of 254 participants, concluded that drinking beetroot juice helped cause a significant reduction in systolic blood pressure levels. Systolic blood pressure is the stage of the heartbeat in which the heart contracts and forces blood through the arteries.

However, in this Journal of Nutrition study, the authors state that the findings need to be tested in longer-term studies before any recommendations can be made.

Reducing nerve damage

A 2012 review of published studies also suggests that alpha-lipoic acid, an antioxidant found in beets, might help reduce nerve damage in people with diabetes.

Nerve damage is a symptom of diabetes.

The benefits might, however, be limited to injections of alpha-lipoic acid.

“It is unclear if the significant improvements seen with the oral administration of alpha-lipoic acid are clinically relevant,” the researchers write in the International Journal of Endocrinology.

Improving exercise performance

Research has also suggested that drinking beet juice might improve the ability of muscles to take up oxygen during physical activity and improve exercise tolerance.

Exercise helps reduce the risk and slow the progression of heart disease and other cardiovascular disorders. This particularly benefits people with diabetes, as they are at a high risk of these conditions.

What’s New and Beneficial About Beets

  • Beets are a unique source of phytonutrients called betalains. Betanin and vulgaxanthin are the two best-studied betalains from beets, and both have been shown to provide antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and detoxification support. The detox support provided by betalains includes support of some especially important Phase 2 detox steps involving glutathione. Although you can see these betalain pigments in other foods (like the stems of chard or rhubarb), the concentration of betalains in the peel and flesh of beets gives you an unexpectedly great opportunity for these health benefits.
  • Unlike some other food pigments, betalains undergo very steady loss from food as the length of cooking time is increased. For example, one recent study has shown the red betalain pigments in beets to be far less heat stable than red anthocyanin pigments in red cabbage. The difference between 15 minutes of steaming versus 25 minutes of steaming, or 60 minutes of roasting versus 90 minutes of roasting can be significant in terms of betalain damage. For these reasons, we recommend that you keep beet steaming times to 15 minutes or less, and roasting times under an hour.
  • An estimated 10-15% of all U.S. adults experience beeturia (a reddening of the urine) after consumption of beets in everyday amounts. While this phenomenon is not considered harmful in and of itself, it may be a possible indicator of the need for healthcare guidance in one particular set of circumstances involving problems with iron metabolism. Individuals with iron deficiency, iron excess, or specific problems with iron metabolism are much more likely to experience beeturia than individuals with healthy iron metabolism. For this reason, if you experience beeturia and have any reason to suspect iron-related problems, we recommend a healthcare consult to follow up on possible issues related to iron status.
  • In recent lab studies on human tumor cells, betanin pigments from beets have been shown to lessen tumor cell growth through a number of mechanisms, including inhibition of pro-inflammatory enzymes (specifically, cyclooxygenase enzymes). The tumor cell types tested in these studies include tumor cells from colon, stomach, nerve, lung, breast, prostate and testicular tissue. While lab studies by themselves are not proof of beets’ anti-cancer benefits, the results of these studies are encouraging researchers to look more closely than ever at the value of betanins and other betalains in beets for both prevention and treatment of certain cancer types.
  • There has been some confusion about the nutritional value of beets in terms of their lutein/zeaxanthin content. (Lutein and zeaxanthin are two carotenoid phytonutrients that play an important role in health, and especially eye health.) Beet greens are usually a valuable source of lutein/zeaxanthin. One cup of raw beet greens may contain over 275 micrograms of lutein! Beet roots are not nearly so concentrated in lutein, although some beet roots – like the roots of yellow beets – may be valuable sources of this carotenoid. (Lutein can contribute to the yellow color of vegetables, and so yellow root vegetables—like yellow carrots or yellow beets—often contain more lutein than orange or red versions of these foods.)

WHFoods Recommendations

Foods belonging to the chenopod family — including beets, chard, spinach and quinoa — continue to show an increasing number of health benefits not readily available from other food families. The red and yellow betalain pigments found in this food family, their unique epoxyxanthophyll carotenoids, and the special connection between their overall phytonutrients and our nervous system health (including our specialized nervous system organs like the eye) point to the chenopod family of foods as unique in their health value. While we have yet to see large-scale human studies that point to a recommended minimum intake level for foods from this botanical family, we have seen data on chenopod phytonutrients, and based on this data, we recommend that you include foods from the chenopod family in your diet 1-2 times per week. In the case of a root food like beetroot, we recommend a serving size of at least one-half whole medium beet, and even more beneficial, at least 1 whole medium beet so that you can also benefit from their nutrient-rich greens.

If long cooking times deter you from cooking beets, our Healthiest Way of Cooking beets will help you prepare them in just 15 minutes. Cut medium beets into quarters without removing the skin. Steam and serve as a great vegetable side dish or as a wonderful addition to your favorite salad.

It is often difficult to believe how the hardy, crunchy, often rough-looking exterior of raw beets can be transformed into something wonderfully soft and buttery once they are cooked. See Healthiest Way of Cooking Beets in the How to Enjoy section below.

Beets, sliced, cooked
1.00 cup
(170.00 grams) Calories: 75
GI: med
NutrientDRI/DV
folate34%
manganese24%
copper14%
fiber12%
potassium11%
phosphorus9%
magnesium9%
vitamin C8%
iron7%
vitamin B66%

This chart graphically details the %DV that a serving of Beets provides for each of the nutrients of which it is a good, very good, or excellent source according to our Food Rating System. Additional information about the amount of these nutrients provided by Beets can be found in the Food Rating System Chart. A link that takes you to the In-Depth Nutritional Profile for Beets, featuring information over 80 nutrients, can be found under the Food Rating System Chart.

  • Health Benefits
  • Description
  • History
  • How to Select and Store
  • Tips for Preparing and Cooking
  • How to Enjoy
  • Individual Concerns
  • Nutritional Profile

Health Benefits

Remember all those legendary Russian centenarians? Beets, frequently consumed either pickled or in borscht, the traditional Russian soup, may be one reason behind their long and healthy lives. These colorful root vegetables contain powerful nutrient compounds that help protect against heart disease, birth defects and certain cancers, especially colon cancer.

Beets Promote Optimal Health

The pigments that give beets their rich colors are called betalains. There are two basic types of betalains: betacyanins and betaxanthins. Betacyanins are pigments are red-violet in color. Betanin is the best studied of the betacyanins. Betaxanthins are yellowish in color. In light or dark red, crimson, or purple colored beets, betacyanins are the dominant pigments. In yellow beets, betaxanthins predominate, and particularly the betaxanthin called vulgaxanthin. All betalains come from the same original molecule (betalamic acid). The addition of amino acids or amino acid derivatives to betalamic acid is what determines the specific type of pigment that gets produced. The betalain pigments in beets are water-soluble, and as pigments they are somewhat unusual due to their nitrogen content. Many of the betalains function both as antioxidants and anti-inflammatory molecules. At the same time, they themselves are also very vulnerable to oxidation (change in structure due to interaction with oxygen). In addition to beets, rhubarb, chard, amaranth, prickly pear cactus, and Nopal cactus are examples of foods that contain betalains.

It’s interesting to note that humans appear to vary greatly in their response to dietary betalains. In the United States, only 10-15% of adults are estimated to be “betalain responders.” A betalain responder is a person who has the capacity to absorb and metabolize enough betalains from beet (and other foods) to gain full antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and Phase 2 triggering benefits. (Phase 2 is the second step in our cellular detoxification process).

Antioxidant Benefits of Beets

What’s most striking about beets is not the fact that they are rich in antioxidants; what’s striking is the unusual mix of antioxidants that they contain. We’re used to thinking about vegetables as rich in antioxidant carotenoids, and in particular, beta-carotene; among all well-studied carotenoids, none is more commonly occurring in vegetables than beta-carotene.

When it comes to antioxidant phytonutrients that give most red vegetables their distinct color, we’ve become accustomed to thinking about anthocyanins. (Red cabbage, for example, gets it wonderful red color primarily from anthocyanins.) Beets demonstrate their antioxidant uniqueness by getting their red color primarily from betalain antioxidant pigments (and not primarily from anthocyanins). Coupled with their status as a very good source of the antioxidant manganese and a good source of the antioxidant vitamin C, the unique phytonutrients in beets provide antioxidant support in a different way than other antioxidant-rich vegetables. While research is largely in the early stage with respect to beet antioxidants and their special benefits for eye health and overall nerve tissue health, we expect to see study results showing these special benefits and recognizing beets as a standout vegetable in this area of antioxidant support.

Anti-Inflammatory Benefits of Beets

Many of the unique phytonutrients present in beets have been shown to function as anti-inflammatory compounds. In particular, this anti-inflammatory activity has been demonstrated for betanin, isobetanin, and vulgaxanthin. One mechanism allowing these phytonutrients to lessen inflammation is their ability to inhibit the activity of cyclo-oxygenase enzymes (including both COX-1 and COX-2). The COX enzymes are widely used by cells to produce messaging molecules that trigger inflammation. Under most circumstances, when inflammation is needed, this production of pro-inflammatory messaging molecules is a good thing. However, under other circumstances, when the body is undergoing chronic, unwanted inflammation, production of these inflammatory messengers can make things worse. Several types of heart disease—including atherosclerosis—are characterized by chronic unwanted inflammation. For this reason, beets have been studied within the context of heart disease, and there are some encouraging although very preliminary results in this area involving animal studies and a few very small scale human studies. Type 2 diabetes—another health problem associated with chronic, unwanted inflammation—is also an area of interest in this regard, with research findings at a very preliminary stage.

In addition to their unusual betalain and carotenoid phytonutrients, however, beets are also an unusual source of betaine. Betaine is a key body nutrient made from the B-complex vitamin, choline. (Specifically, betaine is simply choline to which three methyl groups have been attached.) In and of itself, choline is a key vitamin for helping regulate inflammation in the cardiovascular system since adequate choline is important for preventing unwanted build-up of homocysteine. (Elevated levels of homocysteine are associated with unwanted inflammation and risk of cardiovascular problems like atherosclerosis.) But betaine may be even more important in regulation of our inflammatory status as its presence in our diet has been associated with lower levels of several inflammatory markers, including C reactive protein, interleukin-6, and tumor necrosis factor alpha. As a group, the anti-inflammatory molecules found in beets may eventually be shown to provide cardiovascular benefits in large-scale human studies, as well as anti-inflammatory benefits for other body systems.

Beets’ Support of Detoxification

The betalin pigments present in beets have repeatedly been shown to support activity in our body’s Phase 2 detoxification process. Phase 2 is the metabolic step that our cells use to hook activated, unwanted toxic substances up with small nutrient groups. This “hook up” process effectively neutralizes the toxins and makes them sufficiently water-soluble for excretion in the urine. One critical “hook up” process during Phase 2 involves an enzyme family called the glutathione-S-transferase family (GSTs). GSTs hook toxins up with glutathione for neutralization and excretion from the body. The betalains found in beet have been shown to trigger GST activity, and to aid in the elimination of toxins that require glutathione for excretion. If you are a person who thinks about exposure to toxins and wants to give your body as much detox support as possible, beets are a food that belongs in your diet.

Other Health Benefits of Beets

It’s important to note two other areas of potential health benefits associated with beets: anti-cancer benefits and fiber-related benefits. The combination of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory molecules in beets makes this food a highly-likely candidate for risk reduction of many cancer types. Lab studies on human tumor cells have confirmed this possibility for colon, stomach, nerve, lung, breast, prostate and testicular cancers. Eventually, we expect to see large-scale human studies that show the risk-reducing effect of dietary beet intake for many of these cancer types.

Beet fiber has also been a nutrient of increasing interest in health research. While many people tend to lump all food fiber into one single category called “dietary fiber,” there is evidence to suggest that all dietary fiber is not the same. Beet fiber (along with carrot fiber) are two specific types of food fiber that may provide special health benefits, particularly with respect to health of our digestive tract (including prevention of colon cancer) and our cardiovascular system. Some beet fiber benefits may be due to the pectin polysaccharides that significantly contribute to the total fiber content.

Description

Both beets and Swiss chard are different varieties within the same plant family (Amaranthaceae-Chenopodiaceae) and their edible leaves share a resemblance in both taste and texture. Attached to the beet’s green leaves is a round or oblong root, the part conjured up in most people’s minds by the word “beet.” Although typically a beautiful reddish-purple hue, beets also come in varieties that feature white, golden/yellow or even rainbow color roots. No matter what their color, however, beet roots aren’t as hardy as they look; the smallest bruise or puncture will cause red beets’ red-purple pigments (which contain a variety of phytonutrients including betalains and anthocyanins) to bleed, especially during cooking. Betalain pigments in beets are highly-water soluble, and they are also temperature sensitive. For both of these reasons, it is important to treat beets as a delicate food, even though they might seem “rock solid” and difficult to damage.

Beets’ sweet taste reflects their high sugar content, which makes beets an important source for the production of refined sugar (yet, the beets that are used for sugar consumption are of a different type than the beets that you purchase in the store). Raw beet roots have a crunchy texture that turns soft and buttery when they are cooked. Beet leaves have a lively, bitter taste similar to chard. The main ingredient in the traditional eastern European soup, borscht, beets are delicious eaten raw, but are more typically cooked or pickled.

The greens attached to the beet roots are delicious and can be prepared like spinach or Swiss chard. They are incredibly rich in nutrients, concentrated in vitamins and minerals as well as carotenoids such as beta-carotene and lutein/zeaxanthin.

While beets are available throughout the year, their season runs from June through October when the youngest, most tender beets are easiest to find.

History

The wild beet, the ancestor of the beet with which we are familiar today, is thought to have originated in prehistoric times in North Africa and grew wild along Asian and European seashores. In these earlier times, people exclusively ate the beet greens and not the roots. The ancient Romans were one of the first civilizations to cultivate beets to use their roots as food. The tribes that invaded Rome were responsible for spreading beets throughout northern Europe where they were first used for animal fodder and later for human consumption, becoming more popular in the 16th century.

Beets’ value grew in the 19th century when it was discovered that they were a concentrated source of sugar, and the first sugar factory was built in Poland. When access to sugar cane was restricted by the British, Napoleon decreed that the beet be used as the primary source of sugar, catalyzing its popularity. Around this time, beets were also first brought to the United States, where they now flourish. Today the leading commercial producers of beets include the United States, the Russian Federation, France, Poland, France and Germany.

How to Select and Store

Choose small or medium-sized beets whose roots are firm, smooth-skinned and deep in color. Smaller, younger beets may be so tender that peeling won’t be needed after they are cooked.

Avoid beets that have spots, bruises or soft, wet areas, all of which indicate spoilage. Shriveled or flabby should also be avoided as these are signs that the roots are aged, tough and fibrous.

While the quality of the greens does not reflect that of the roots, if you are going to consume this very nutritious part of the plant, look for greens that appear fresh, tender, and have a lively green color.

At WHFoods, we encourage the purchase of certified organically grown foods, and beets are no exception. Repeated research studies on organic foods as a group show that your likelihood of exposure to contaminants such as pesticides and heavy metals can be greatly reduced through the purchased of certified organic foods, including beets. In many cases, you may be able to find a local organic grower who sells beets but has not applied for formal organic certification either through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) or through a state agency. (Examples of states offering state-certified organic foods include California, New York, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington.) However, if you are shopping in a large supermarket, your most reliable source of organically grown beets is very likely to be beets that display the USDA organic logo.

Cut the majority of the greens and their stems from the beet roots, so they do not pull away moisture away from the root. Leave about two inches of the stem attached to prevent the roots from “bleeding.” Do not wash beets before storing. Place in a plastic bag and wrap the bag tightly around the beets, squeezing out as much of the air from the bag as possible, and place in refrigerator where they will keep for up to 3 weeks. Loss of some nutrients in beets—for example, its vitamin C content—is likely to be slowed down through refrigeration.

Store the unwashed greens in a separate plastic bag squeezing out as much of the air as possible. Place in refrigerator where they will keep fresh for about four days.

Raw beets do not freeze well since they tend to become soft upon thawing. Freezing cooked beets is fine; they’ll retain their flavor and texture.

Tips for Preparing and Cooking

Tips for Preparing Beets

Rinse gently under cold running water, taking care not to tear the skin, which helps keep the health-promoting pigments inside.

Since beet juice can stain your skin, wearing kitchen gloves is a good idea when handling beets. If your hands become stained during the cleaning and cooking process, simply rub some lemon juice on them to remove the stain.

Cut beets into quarters leaving 2 inches of tap root and 1 inch of stem on the beets.

The Nutrient-Rich Way of Cooking Beets

Cook beets lightly. Studies show beets’ concentration of phytonutrients, such as betalains, is diminished by heat.

We recommend Quick Steaming beets for 15 minutes.

Quick Steaming—similar to Quick Boiling and Healthy Sauté, our other recommended cooking methods—follows three basic cooking guidelines that are generally associated in food science research with improved nutrient retention. These three guidelines are: (1) minimal necessary heat exposure; (2) minimal necessary cooking duration; (3) minimal necessary food surface contact with cooking liquid.

Fill the bottom of the steamer with 2 inches of water and bring to a rapid boil. Add beets, cover, and steam for 15 minutes. Beets are cooked when you can easily insert a fork or the tip or knife into the beet.

Peel beets by setting them on a cutting board and rubbing the skin off with a paper towel. Wearing kitchen gloves will help prevent your hands from becoming stained.

Transfer to a bowl and serve with our Mediterranean Dressing and your favorite optional ingredients. For details see 15-Minute Beets.

Beets’ color can be modified during cooking. Adding an acidic ingredient such as lemon juice or vinegar will brighten the color while an alkaline substance such as baking soda will often cause them to turn a deeper purple. Salt will blunt beets’ color, so add only at the end of cooking if needed.

How to Enjoy

A Few Quick Serving Ideas

  • Simply grate raw beets for a delicious and colorful addition to salads or decorative garnish for soups.
  • Healthy Boil beet greens for 1 minute for a great tasting side dish, which is very similar to Swiss chard.
  • Marinate steamed beets in fresh lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, and fresh herbs.

WHFoods Recipes That Feature Beets

15-Minute Beets

If you’d like even more recipes and ways to prepare beets the Nutrient-Rich Way, you may want to explore The World’s Healthiest Foods book.

Individual Concerns

Beeturia

Consumption of beets can cause urine to become red or pink in color. This condition”called beeturia”is not considered harmful. About 5-15% of U.S. adults are estimated to experience beeturia following consumption of beets in everyday amounts. One area in which beeturia may be a potential concern involves problems with iron metabolism. Persons with iron deficiency, iron excess, or known problems with the metabolism of iron are more likely to experience beeturia. If you experience beeturia and also suspect iron deficiency, iron excess, or iron metabolism to be a problem affecting your health, we recommend that you consult with your healthcare provider to determine your best dietary and health steps.

It’s possible for beet consumption to bring a red color into your bowel movements as well, although this outcome tends to be more common in children than adults. Once again, the production of a reddish color in the stool due to beets is not considered harmful. It’s important, however, to be confident that the reddening of the stool is caused by the pigments found in beets and not by the presence of fresh or dried blood. If you experience reddening of the stool and have not recently (with the past 24-48 hours) consumed beets, we recommend that you consult with your healthcare provider to determine the reason for this change in your stool color.

Oxalate Content

Beets have consistently been determined to have high oxalate content. Oxalates are naturally occurring organic acids found in a wide variety of foods, and in the case of certain medical conditions, they must be greatly restricted in a meal plan to prevent over-accumulation inside the body. Our comprehensive article about oxalates will provide you with practical and detailed information about these organic acids, food, and health.

Nutritional Profile

Beets are unique in their rich combination of betalain pigments. Both betacyanins (red-violet pigments) and betaxanthins (yellow pigments) can be found in beets. Betanin and vulgaxanthin are betalains that have gotten special attention in beet research.

Beets are also an excellent source of folate and a very good source of manganese, potassium and copper. They are also a good source of dietary fiber, magnesium, phosphorus, vitamin C, iron and vitamin B6.

Introduction to Food Rating System Chart

In order to better help you identify foods that feature a high concentration of nutrients for the calories they contain, we created a Food Rating System. This system allows us to highlight the foods that are especially rich in particular nutrients. The following chart shows the nutrients for which this food is either an excellent, very good, or good source (below the chart you will find a table that explains these qualifications). If a nutrient is not listed in the chart, it does not necessarily mean that the food doesn’t contain it. It simply means that the nutrient is not provided in a sufficient amount or concentration to meet our rating criteria. (To view this food’s in-depth nutritional profile that includes values for dozens of nutrients – not just the ones rated as excellent, very good, or good – please use the link below the chart.) To read this chart accurately, you’ll need to glance up in the top left corner where you will find the name of the food and the serving size we used to calculate the food’s nutrient composition. This serving size will tell you how much of the food you need to eat to obtain the amount of nutrients found in the chart. Now, returning to the chart itself, you can look next to the nutrient name in order to find the nutrient amount it offers, the percent Daily Value (DV%) that this amount represents, the nutrient density that we calculated for this food and nutrient, and the rating we established in our rating system. For most of our nutrient ratings, we adopted the government standards for food labeling that are found in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s “Reference Values for Nutrition Labeling.” Read more background information and details of our rating system.

Beets, sliced, cooked
1.00 cup
170.00 grams Calories: 75
GI: med
Nutrient Amount DRI/DV
(%)
Nutrient
Density
World’s Healthiest
Foods Rating
folate 136.00 mcg 34 8.2 excellent
manganese 0.55 mg 24 5.8 very good
copper 0.13 mg 14 3.5 very good
fiber 3.40 g 12 2.9 good
potassium 518.50 mg 11 2.7 good
magnesium 39.10 mg 9 2.2 good
phosphorus 64.60 mg 9 2.2 good
vitamin C 6.12 mg 8 2.0 good
iron 1.34 mg 7 1.8 good
vitamin B6 0.11 mg 6 1.6 good

In-Depth Nutritional Profile

In addition to the nutrients highlighted in our ratings chart, here is an in-depth nutritional profile for Beets. This profile includes information on a full array of nutrients, including carbohydrates, sugar, soluble and insoluble fiber, sodium, vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, amino acids and more.

  • Augustsson K, Michaud DS, Rimm EB, et al. A prospective study of intake of fish and marine fatty acids and prostate cancer. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2003 May;12(1)64-7. 2003. PMID:12540506.
  • Bobek P, Galbavy S, Mariassyova M. The effect of red beet (Beta vulgaris var. rubra) fiber on alimentary hypercholesterolemia and chemically induced colon carcinogenesis in rats. Nahrung 2000 Jun;44(3):184-7. 2000.
  • Elbandy MA and Abdelfadeil MG. Stability of betalain pigments from a red beetroot (Beta vulgaris). Poster Session Presentation. The First International Conference of Food Industries and Biotechnology & Associated Fair. Al-Baath University, North Sinai, Egypt. Available online at: www.albaath univ.edu.sy/foodex2010/connections/ Posters/6.pdf. 2010.
  • Lee CH, Wettasinghe M, Bolling BW et al. Betalains, phase II enzyme-inducing components from red beetroot (Beta vulgaris L.) extracts. Nutr Cancer. 2005;53(1):91-103. 2005.
  • Lucarini M, Lanzi S, D’Evoli L et al. Intake of vitamin A and carotenoids from the Italian population–results of an Italian total diet study. Int J Vitam Nutr Res. 2006 May;76(3):103-9. 2006.
  • Reddy MK, Alexander-Lindo RL and Nair MG. Relative inhibition of lipid peroxidation, cyclooxygenase enzymes, and human tumor cell proliferation by natural food colors. J Agric Food Chem. 2005 Nov 16;53(23):9268-73. 2005.
  • Renner-Nance J. Improving the stability and performance of naturally derived color additives. DD Williamson Support Center Presentation, Louisville, KY, June 8, 2009. Available online at: www.naturalcolors.com/./File/naturalcolors/./Session139-02.pdf. 2009.
  • Song W, Derito CM, Liu MK et al. Cellular antioxidant activity of common vegetables. J Agric Food Chem. 2010 Jun 9;58(11):6621-9. 2010.

When it comes to beets, opinions are fiercely divided. Some people love them, and others loathe them. Depending on who you ask, beets taste like dirt or like candy.

Beet-o-phobia isn’t as common as negative reactions to foods like cilantro or black licorice (a Google search for “hate the taste of b-” returns beer, bone broth, baking soda, butter, and blood but not beets). But it’s still pretty widespread. And so is passion for this extraordinary, sweet root.

I want to share with you some amazing properties of beets. If you’ve ruled them out, perhaps you’ll even give them a second chance.

What are the benefits of beets? And what are the best ways to prepare them? And can I write an entire article about them without resorting to at least one terrible pun? (Spoiler alert: Nope.)

Meet the Beet — A Beautifully Colored Root Vegetable

iStock.com/sagarmanis

Known scientifically as Beta vulgaris, beets are a root vegetable that slightly resemble turnips or rutabagas. They typically have a rough outer skin that covers their root, which is attached to their long green stem and leaves.

Early evidence shows that beet greens were used for food, while the roots had medicinal uses. However, Hippocrates recommended using the greens to heal wounds.

Using beets for sugar — now done using sugar beets — began in 18th century Germany with a chemist named Andreas Margraff.

If you’ve ever handled beets, you’re familiar with their ability to stain everything they touch (here’s how to clean that). This made them perfect for cosmetic uses during the 1800s. And it’s how the saying “red as a beet” originated.

Today, beet pigment is a natural alternative to commercial food colorings for use in things like plant-based burgers, tomato paste, wine, candy, and jams.

Beet the Rainbow

iStock.com/KeithSzafranski

Best known for their deep red (almost purple) color, beets actually come in several shades.

Most stores stock red beets, so you may have to go to the farmer’s market or specialty foods store to find these less common types.

  • Chioggia: Also called Candy Cane beets, Chioggia beets are red on the outside and red and white striped on the inside. These are heirloom beets with a distinct sweetness.
  • Golden: Golden beets are yellow-orange and have a more neutral taste. They also have the advantage of not bleeding when cooked.
  • White: They may have a very mild taste and look like turnips from the outside, but white beets are still in the family.
  • Formanova: These beets stand out from the others at almost eight inches long! They’re cylindrical in shape, resemblant of a sweet potato in size.
  • Lutz Green Leaf: This variety can be up to four times the size of other round beets — about six inches in diameter. Also called “winter keeper” beets, these are known for their long shelf life. Note that they become less sweet the larger they grow — a common tradeoff in root vegetables.

GMO Sugar Beets Are a Whole Different Beast

Conventional beets grown to eat are not genetically modified.

But “sugar beets” are a specific variety that contain a high concentration of sucrose and are used specifically for refined sugar production. In fact, more than half of all sugar used in the United States comes from sugar beets.

Nearly all the commercially cultivated sugar beets are “Roundup Ready.” This means they have been genetically engineered to be resistant to glyphosate, the main active ingredient in the highly controversial pesticide, Roundup.

Roundup is an endocrine disruptor, an antibiotic, and a probable carcinogen. It’s sprayed heavily on Roundup Ready sugar beets. If you want to avoid GMOs and glyphosate, that’s a good reason to choose only cane sugar — or better yet, avoid added sugar altogether.

But this is only an issue with beet sugar — not with “table beets” that you or I might buy in a store or grow in the backyard.

Beets Nutrition Facts

iStock.com/Lisovskaya

Beetroots are especially high in folate, manganese, and copper.

  • Folate is essential for DNA synthesis and preventing neural tube defects in babies. It’s also been shown to reduce risk for heart disease, cancer, and depression.
  • Manganese is needed for enzymatic processes in your body, as well as for metabolism, wound healing, and healthy bones.
  • Copper keeps your immune system healthy, helps create red blood cells, and supports energy production.

Beet greens are full of vitamins A, C, K, and B2.

Red beets get their rich pigment from phytonutrients called betalains. The two most well-known betalains are vulgaxanthin and betanin, which have antioxidant, cancer-fighting, and anti-inflammatory properties.

10 Health Benefits of Beets

iStock.com/Elena Rui

Beets have some amazing benefits for you:

Benefits of Beets #1 — They Are Good for Your Heart

Did you hear about the guy who stopped eating his veggies? His heart missed a beet. (OK, there’s that pun I promised. Now I can relax and get back to work.)

Beets, along with spinach, carrots, and cabbage, are a great source of nitrates.

Nitrates are compounds that convert to nitric oxide in the body. Nitric oxide opens up your blood vessels, which helps lower blood pressure and heart rate.

Think nitrates aren’t good for you? Don’t confuse the nitrates in beets with the nitrates and nitrites added to processed foods, like deli meat, which can form cancer-causing nitrosamines. Plants that naturally contain nitrates, like beets, also contain vitamin C and other compounds that prevent them from becoming nitrosamines.

In a 2014 study published in Hypertension, researchers found that drinking one cup of beetroot juice daily for four weeks was able to reduce blood pressure.

Some participants were even able to reduce some types of blood pressure medication as a result. The overall function of blood vessels was also improved.

Benefits of Beets #2 — They Can Make You a Better Athlete

The nitrates in beets improve blood flow, which helps move oxygen throughout your body.

Endurance athletes often drink beetroot juice to improve performance, which has got to be one of the healthiest and most delicious forms of doping ever invented. Better oxygen flow means that the athlete’s heart and lungs don’t have to work so hard during exercise, allowing them to perform vigorous activity for longer.

Beets can also increase time-to-exhaustion in athletes. In other words, drinking beet juice before exercise seems to prevent fatigue. Beet juice also prevents muscles from exhausting. It’s not clear whether this is because muscle damage lessens or because repair is enhanced, but either way, the results are positive.

Studies suggest that beetroot juice should be consumed within 90 minutes of starting athletics for the best outcomes.

Benefits of Beets #3 — They Can Reduce Inflammation in Your Body

The betalain in beets can reduce inflammation, which researchers theorize is partially due to its ability to interfere with the inflammatory signaling process.

The anti-inflammatory effects are so promising that some researchers believe beetroot extract supplements could rival the benefits of certain synthetic drugs.

Inflammation is a factor in many health problems, including heart disease, cancer, and obesity.

One study of individuals with knee pain found that a twice-daily dose of concentrated betalain reduced pain and improved joint function in people suffering from osteoarthritis in their knee joints.

Is it possible the improvement was just a case of the placebo effect? Not likely, because another randomized group was given oat bran powder as a placebo, and the group who ate the oat bran powder saw much less improvement.

Benefits of Beets #4 — They Can Improve Your Digestive Health

Beets are high in fiber, which is good for your gut.

The fiber in beets resists digestion in the stomach and small intestine and travels more or less intact into the colon, where your health-promoting gut bacteria ferment it and use it for food.

The fiber also provides roughage that moves food through your intestines. Eating enough fiber protects against constipation, hemorrhoids, colon cancer, acid reflux, ulcers, diverticulitis, and obesity.

Benefits of Beets #5 — They Are Good for Your Brain

Many cognitive diseases appear to be triggered by an interruption in nitric oxide pathways. It makes sense then that nitrates in beets can help improve brain function by increasing oxygen flow.

A 2017 study published in the Journal of Gerontology demonstrated the ability of beet juice to improve blood flow to the brain during exercise. None of the participants regularly exercised, and all were on blood pressure medication.

They were asked to exercise for 50 minutes, three times per week for six weeks, on a treadmill. Half drank high-nitrate beet juice concentrate before exercise, and half drank an identically flavored and colored placebo drink with almost zero nitrates. Those who consumed the beet juice drink showed improved function in the areas of the brain related to motor control, emotion, and cognition, compared to those in the placebo group.

Benefits of Beets #6 — They Have Cancer-Fighting Properties

Beets are known to have antioxidant properties, which protect cells from free radicals.

Most specifically, the betanin in beets has been studied for its ability to protect against cancer. Some researchers even see the potential for beet extracts for use in chemotherapy.

Of course, we don’t have to wait until cancer strikes to start taking advantage of the cancer-fighting properties of beets. And we don’t need a prescription from an oncologist either!

Benefits of Beets #7 — They Boost Your Immunity

Beets are high in zinc, copper, and vitamins A and C — all nutrients known to boost immunity.

Vitamin A increases antibody production and stimulates your white blood cells, which help ward off infections.

Beets also contain iron, which is needed to carry oxygen throughout your body, keep your cells strong, and enhance immune defense.

Benefits of Beets #8 — They Can Boost Your Libido

The use of beets as an aphrodisiac dates back to the time of the Romans, who attributed the beauty and allure of Aphrodite (goddess of love) to her insatiable appetite for beets.

A European folk belief holds that if a man and woman eat of the same beetroot, they are destined to fall in love. (Kind of an ancient version of sipping a root beer float through two straws. In fact, some old recipes for making authentic root beer include beets among the roots used.)

Beets are rich in the mineral boron, which plays a role in sex hormone production.

The effectiveness of dietary nitrates in beets to enhance blood flow can benefit sexual health as well. And some studies suggest beet juice can be effective in treating erectile dysfunction.

Benefits of Beets #9 — They Are Good for Your Eyes

It’s no surprise that eating fruits and vegetables is good for your eyes — especially those with rich pigments.

Beets contain lutein and zeaxanthin, which are well-studied for their positive impact on vision. Consuming these carotenoids can prevent and slow the progression of age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of adult vision loss in America.

Benefits of Beets #10 — They Are Good for Your Liver

Beets have an abundance of nutrients that keep your liver healthy — such as iron, antioxidants, betaine, and vitamin B.

Beetroot helps protect the liver from oxidative damage and inflammation. The betaines in beets help the liver eliminate toxins. And betalains encourage the detoxification process. Also, pectin, a water-soluble fiber in these root vegetables, helps flush out toxins from the liver.

Potential Downsides of Beets

Beets have many benefits. But they may have a few negatives to consider:

  • They’re very high in oxalates. Foods high in oxalates can reduce the absorption of some nutrients, such as calcium. Iron is often thought to be influenced by oxalates, but not all studies support this. This doesn’t mean you should avoid beets — it just means you should be sure to get calcium and iron from other sources. Too many oxalates can also increase the risk of kidney stones, especially in people with a predisposition.
  • They’re relatively high in natural sugar. Beets have a moderately high glycemic load. But a single serving of 1/2 cup of beets has a negligible effect on blood sugar.
  • They can surprise you the next day. Don’t panic, but I feel it necessary to tell you to remember when you eat beets. Beets don’t just stain countertops and clothing; they also pass through your digestive tract over the next day or two. This is such a common occurrence that is actually has a name: beeturia.

How red your stool or urine will become depends on a few factors. For instance, how long beets are in your system, how many and what kind you ate, your stomach acidity at the time, and the presence of oxalic acid in your body from other foods.

But if things look red the next day, don’t worry: You’re probably not bleeding to death. You may simply have eaten beets with dinner.

How to Store Beets

Proper storage is key to keeping beets fresh.

Avoid beets with wilted greens as this reduces shelf life. Cut off all but one to two inches of the leaf stems so they won’t remove moisture from the root.

Scrub beets and dry them well before placing in a plastic bag with a few holes, or in a paper bag. Store them in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator or in a root cellar. They can stay firm for up to a few months.

And the greens are good, too! They are both tasty and nutritious and can be used in much the same way you might use chard or spinach (which are in the same family).

To store beet greens, wash, dry, and wrap them in a paper towel and store them in the fridge in a plastic bag or glass container with a lid. They should keep for up to a week or two.

How to Use Beets

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I love roasted beets seasoned with thyme. I’ll also cut cooked beets into chunks and freeze them for later use in smoothies.

You can steam, boil, or pickle beets, blend them into soups and sauces or juice them with ginger and turmeric. And adding cooked beets to baked goods like chocolate cake increases moisture and adds nutrients.

Some beet nutrients are heat sensitive, so you can preserve them with either gentle cooking or eating them raw. Try grating raw beets onto a cold salad or pizza. Some people also like to ferment them as a kind of pickle.

3 Healthy Beet Recipes

Colorful Beet Salad with Carrot, Quinoa, & Spinach by Cookie and Kate

This vibrant salad uses grated, raw beets mixed with quinoa and other nutritious vegetables. Note: You could leave out the oil and sweeteners in the dressing.

Beet, Ginger, and Coconut Milk Soup by Epicurious

Beets and ginger are a delicious pairing, especially with the creaminess of the coconut milk to make this soup. You can omit the oil or use vegetable broth in its place.

Easy Beet Wonder Dip by Forks Over Knives

Wow your friends with this simple and colorful dip, perfect for crackers or raw veggies.

Just Beet It

Beets are a vibrant, underappreciated member of the produce family. You might not expect the bright coloring, strong flavoring, and benefits of beets waiting underneath their unassuming outer skin.

And despite the great divide when it comes to taste preferences, beets offer many benefits — from your heart to your brain to your overall disease-fighting immunity.

So if you’re looking for a new addition to your diet, it doesn’t matter who’s wrong or right: just beet it! (Couldn’t resist!)

Tell us in the comments below:

  • Do you enjoy beets and, if so, what’s your favorite way to eat them?

  • Do any of the benefits of beets surprise you?

Featured Image: iStock.com/sagarmanis

Read Next:

See 16 healthy foods a plant-powered cooking instructor keeps in her fridge (one food is beets!)

15 Vegetables You Didn’t Know Were High in Protein

When trying to cut back on sugar, many forget to replace processed foods with just the right amount of vegetables. But they provide so much more than vitamins — they’re important sources of macronutrients, too. Vegetables are loaded with healthy carbs, and many common veggies are also high in protein. This nutrient not only promotes muscle growth, but also serves as the foundation for many of your body’s basic functions. (Your mom wasn’t lying when she told you vegetables were good for you.) Here are 15 vegetables that are high in protein, and all the extra benefits they can provide.

Nutrition data courtesy of the USDA Food Composition Databases

1. Hubbard squash

Can you name the various types of squash? | iStock.com/jatrax

Protein per cup (cooked): 5.08 grams

Hubbard squash provides approximately 10 grams of fiber per cup, almost half the amount of fiber you’re supposed to eat daily. Like other orange vegetables, it also carries a lot of vitamins A and C. And according to Organic Facts, squash can help you keep your blood sugar stable, reduce inflammation, and even promote a healthy heart. Just a serving or two of squash at dinner is plenty. With that much protein and fiber, you’ll feel full in no time.

Next: You put it in your salad, but you probably don’t know why it’s so good for you.

2. Spinach

Who knew eating a bunch of leaves could pack so much protein? | iStock.com/dionisvero

Protein per cup (raw): 0.86 grams

The average spinach salad uses at least 2 cups of this leafy vegetable per bowl, which means you’ll get a decent amount of protein even without adding chicken (and just think how much you could pack in if you wilt it first). The World’s Healthiest Foods says spinach is also an excellent source of iron. So, if you’re not a big red meat eater, adding spinach to your diet can increase your iron intake without much effort. Don’t like salad? Put spinach on your burger or sandwich. You can also add it to pasta, or blend it into your veggie-based smoothie.

Next: This starchy vegetable has more protein than the others you’ve seen so far.

3. Green peas

Peas are higher in carbs than many other vegetables. They’re technically a starch. | iStock.com/SherSor

Protein per cup (cooked): 8.58 grams

Unless you have an inexplicable aversion to foods that roll, green peas should be a staple in your weekly meal plan. According to Livestrong.com, peas contain enough fiber, iron, and vitamin A to add significant value to whatever you pair them with. Peas have 25 grams of carbs per cup, so they aren’t the best choice if you’re trying to minimize your carb intake. However, their combined protein and fiber content will make you think twice before saying yes to an extra large portion of dessert.

Next: This vegetable can replicate a lot of your favorite starch-heavy sides.

4. Cauliflower

Try eating cauliflower “rice” instead of white rice. | iStock.com/zeleno

Protein per cup (cooked): 1.14 grams

There are about 2 grams of fiber per cup of cauliflower, which can easily contribute to your recommended 25 grams per day (women over 50 should aim for 21). Cauliflower, according to Authority Nutrition, also provides plenty of antioxidants to help reduce inflammation and reduce your cancer risk. Plus, it’s a healthy, versatile vegetable many people use instead of grains. Even if you’re not on a low-carb diet, making rice, a mashed side (instead of mashed potatoes), and pizza crust out of cauliflower can cut your carb intake significantly.

Next: Did you know you can eat multiple parts of this root vegetable?

5. Beet greens

You might not like beet greens if you’re not a fan of bitter foods. | iStock.com/magpie3studio

Protein per cup (raw): 0.84 grams

Eating green, leafy vegetables is one of the best things you can do to make sure you’re getting all the vitamins and minerals you need to stay healthy. Beet greens are often forgotten, but they’re great for eating, too. Livestrong.com notes beet greens are a plentiful source of vitamins A, C, and K. Even better, their bitter taste makes them easy to pair with some of your favorite flavors, like garlic, olive oil, and cheese. Once you separate beets from their greens, you can sauté the greens while roasting the root ends to create a colorful, flavor-filled salad.

Next: You’ll have to get creative when flavoring these guys.

6. Brussels sprouts

Use garlic to flavor this vegetable, instead of butter. | iStock.com/GwylanAnna

Protein per cup (cooked): 2.97 grams

At almost 3 grams of protein per cup, this vegetable could help you reach your daily intake goal by dinnertime. According to The World’s Healthiest Foods, steamed Brussels sprouts are actually healthier than raw ones because steaming enhances their cholesterol-lowering benefits. This means they could help to reduce the amount of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol in your blood. Instead of sautéing the sprouts in butter to add flavor, stick to some healthier flavorings. A little garlic and olive oil can go a long way.

Next: This popular superfood didn’t find its fame by accident.

7. Kale

You’re not sick of kale by now, are you? | iStock.com/ginew

Protein per cup (raw): 0.68 grams

Kale is the superfood of the early 2010s — and that goes beyond its protein and fiber content. One cup of raw kale, only 8 calories, provides zero fat — so you can eat a lot of it without consequence. And maybe you should. According to Time, it has more iron per serving than beef, and more than enough vitamin K. Most importantly, the list of recipes you can make using kale may be endless. Is it possible to eat kale several times a week and never get bored? You decide.

Next: These veggies get a bad rap, but their outer “shells” are worth it.

8. White or red potatoes (medium, with skin)

Always eat the skin — it’s the healthiest part. | iStock.com/YelenaYemchuk

Protein per cup (cooked): 3.63 grams (white), 3.98 grams (red)

White and red potatoes are extremely healthy, despite worries about their carb content. According to Livestrong.com, the only real nutritional difference between white and red potatoes is their level of antioxidants (red potatoes have at least twice the amount). Both are low in calories and fat, and high in fiber and other carbs. Any potato you choose is going to provide plenty of essential vitamins and minerals — as long as you eat the skin! You’re missing out on many benefits if you throw it out.

Next: Who knew a fungi could be so good for you?

9. Portabello mushrooms

Add mushrooms to your stir-fry, pasta, or soup. | iStock.com/PicturePartners

Protein per cup (grilled): 3.97 grams

It’s not just calcium that keeps your bones in shape. Phosphorus is also an essential mineral for this purpose. Portabello mushrooms are surprisingly beneficial for bone health, since they contain a small amount of the bone-strengthening mineral. Add these mushrooms to a pasta or stir-fry for added flavor. You can also grill and stuff them with other veggies to add even more protein and other nutrients to your meal.

Next: There’s a lot of nutrition packed into such a slim veggie.

10. Asparagus

Always remove the bottoms of your asparagus before cooking. | iStock.com/Vima

Protein per cup (cooked): 2.16 grams

You don’t have to stick solely to blueberries and dark chocolate to add more antioxidants into your diet. EatingWell praises asparagus for the small role it can play in ridding your body of harmful free radicals. Protein and cancer-fighting powers? Sounds good to us. Roasting asparagus with olive oil and breadcrumbs on top is a tasty, slightly crunchy way to enjoy this veggie.

Next: Technically, this vegetable belongs in the same family as squash.

11. Zucchini

Zucchini and pumpkins are part of the same family. | iStock.com/bhofack2

Protein per cup (cooked): 2.05 grams

Zucchini is a close relative to the squash — and it’s just as good for you. According to Health, zucchini is a heart-healthy vegetable that’s low in calories, high in protein, and extremely versatile in the kitchen. Many don’t like the taste of it raw, yet have never tried grilling, baking, or even frying zucchini. (Frying isn’t the healthiest way to eat zucchini, but it’s a start.) And of course, you can replace even the healthiest pastas with something from your handy-dandy Spiralizer. Zoodles, anyone?

Next: Here’s a new way to add even more protein and variety to your favorite salad.

12. Collard greens

Never heard of collard greens? It’s a Southern thing. | iStock.com/PoppyB

Protein per cup (raw): 2 grams

Collard greens belong to the same vegetable family as kale, broccoli, cabbage, and turnips. They’re high in both fiber and protein, which makes them a good food to incorporate into your meals to discourage overeating. Medical News Today suggests using them the same way you’d use kale or spinach. Add them to a salad, sandwich, or soup. You can also sauté them and add herbs and spices to create a more appealing texture and taste.

Next: It kind of looks like a tomato, but it’s even sweeter.

13. Red bell pepper

Peppers add a unique flavor and texture to your food. | iStock.com/Ravsky

Protein per cup (raw): 0.9 grams

Red, orange, and yellow foods are known for their high amounts of vitamins C and A, both essential for your health. In addition to nearly 1 gram of protein per cup, red bell pepper supplies your body with iron, essential for blood circulation. According to Authority Nutrition, bell peppers can supply your blood with the oxygen it needs to do its job. There’s a lot you can do with a bell pepper once it’s on your kitchen counter, too. You can stuff it, grill it, add it to a salad, put it on your pizza, or create a flavorful sauce.

Next: Bake this kind of potato for a little extra vitamin A boost.

14. Sweet potatoes (medium, with skin)

Surprise! Sweet potatoes and yams are completely different foods — they’re not even related. | iStock.com/margouillatphotos

Protein per cup: 2.29 grams

Sweet potatoes are great sources of protein, but they’re also full of essential vitamins and minerals. They might even help you manage your stress. Live Science says sweet potatoes are great sources of magnesium, a mineral that can help keep you calm while anxious. A baked sweet potato instead of a white potato also provides beta-carotene, in addition to its 2 grams of protein per cup. Beta-carotene helps keep your immune system strong, decreasing your risk of disease.

Next: It may not be your favorite vegetable, but it has a lot to offer you.

15. Broccoli

There’s a lot of nutrition in these tiny trees. | iStock.com/Eric_Urquhart

Protein per cup (cooked): 1.86 grams

These tiny tree-like plants pack plenty of protein, fiber, and vitamin C. And according to Organic Facts, broccoli is also a valuable defense against heart disease. At almost 3 grams of fiber per cup, it can help decrease your LDL cholesterol, reducing plaque buildup in your arteries. You don’t have to eat it plain to reap its many benefits, though. After you steam your broccoli, season it with a variety of herbs and spices to give it some flavor.

Read More: Do High-Protein Diets Really Help You Lose Weight?

What are the benefits of beetroot?

Beetroot provides a wide range of possible health benefits, such as reducing blood pressure, improving digestion, and lowering the risk of diabetes.

The sections below discuss these potential benefits in more detail.

Heart health and blood pressure

Share on PinterestBeetroot may help reduce blood pressure.

A 2015 study of 68 people with high blood pressure examined the effects of drinking 250 milliliters of beetroot juice every day.

The researchers found that doing so significantly lowered blood pressure after ingestion.

They suggest that this antihypertensive effect was due to the high levels of nitrate in the beet juice. They recommend consuming high nitrate vegetables as an effective, low cost way to help treat high blood pressure.

However, people should never stop taking a prescribed blood pressure medication without first talking to a doctor.

High blood pressure is a primary risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD). Reducing it by making dietary changes and through other means can help prevent heart failure, stroke, heart attacks, and other life threatening complications of CVD.

Diabetes

Beets contain an antioxidant called alpha-lipoic acid. This compound may help lower glucose levels and increase insulin sensitivity.

A 2019 review of studies looked at the effects of alpha-lipoic acid on the symptoms of diabetic neuropathy. The researchers found that oral and intravenous administration of alpha-lipoic acid supplements led to a decrease in symptoms of peripheral and autonomic neuropathy in people with diabetes.

However, most of the doses in these studies were far higher than those that are available in beetroot. The effects of smaller dietary doses are not yet clear from the available research.

Here, learn more about diabetes.

Digestion and regularity

One cup of beetroot provides 3.81 grams (g) of fiber. Consuming enough fiber is essential for smooth digestion and gut health.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), a single cup of beets can provide more than 8.81% of a person’s daily requirement of fiber, depending on their age and sex.

Including beetroot in the diet is one way that a person can increase their fiber intake.

Exercise and athletic performance

Some studies have found that beetroot juice supplementation can improve the amount of oxygen that muscles absorb during exercise. One 2019 study found that high doses of beetroot juice improved the time trial results of experienced cyclists.

A different study from the same year examined 12 recreationally active female volunteers. However, the researchers did not find that beetroot juice supplementation improved the participants’ athletic performance.

Therefore, further research is necessary to confirm the benefits of beetroot on exercise performance.

Cancer prevention

A 2019 review of studies found that certain compounds in beets can disrupt the cancerous mutations of cells. Such compounds include betalains, which are pigments that give beets their red and yellow color.

Although further research is necessary before health professionals can recommend beets as a replacement for other standard cancer risk reduction methods, they may have some function in reducing the risk of this condition.

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