The Widely Popular Beet

Beets have been cultivated since pre-historic times in the Mediterranean area and were originally grown only for their leaves. During the Roman empire, people began to eat the roots as well – and even considered beets to be an aphrodisiac. They even used beets to treat fevers and constipation. Today, beets and beet dishes are still widely popular.

Aphrodite, according to legend, ate beets to retain her beauty.

Americans refer to this root vegetable simply as “beets”, but the rest of the world calls it beetroot. Other names for it are table beet or blood turnip. The beet is in the same family as Swiss chard.

Though mostly reddish purple, beets come in white, golden and even candy-striped colors. Betacyanin, the powerful antioxidant that lends beets their deep hue, has cancer-protective effects. A good source of folate, dietary fiber, potassium, manganese and vitamin C, beets are plump with important nutrients. Though they have a sweet taste due to their high natural sugar content, beets only contain 74 calories per half up.

Peak season for beets is June through October. Look for small, firm, round beets with a dark red color and slender tap root. If eating the greens, look for fresh, green leaves. Beets will store unwashed and refrigerated for two to four dayss. Wash gently and cut all but two inches of stem from the beet and keep the root intact. Peel after cooking to prevent the nutrient-rich color from bleeding.

The sweet and verstile beet can be boiled, steamed, roasted or sauteed. Raw or cooked, beets add vibrancy and texture to most any dish. Try grating them into crisp slaws, dicing them into flavorful salads and serving them with a tangy dressing as a side dish.

Loaded with Antioxidants

Like most deep-colored vegetables, beets are loaded with antioxidant phytonutrients. Beets are a good source of folacin and a source of Vitamin C and potassium. Red beets provide Vitamins A and C, calcium and iron, and add fiber to the diet.

Beets Aid Detox

Beets contain a unique mixture of natural plant chemicals (phytochemicals) and minerals that make them a super power in fighting off infection. These also work as blood purifers and liver cleansers, and help boost the body’s cellular intake of oxygen. Beets also help stabilize the blood’s acid-alkaline balance (pH).

Blood Pressure, Circulation and Inflammation

Beets (and beet root juice) are blood-building herbs that detoxify your blood and renew it with minerals and natural sugars. There may also be substances in beets that aid circulation. Recently, a Greek study found that people with higher intakes of betaine and the B vitamin choline had less inflammation, suggesting that these nutrients may help protect against heart disease and other chronic illnesses.

Other research from Britain has found that drinking two cups of beet juice a day significantly lowered blood pressure in 14 healthy volunteers. Scientists think the nitrates found naturally in beets protect blood vessels and keep them healthy.

Beet juice contains betaine, which stimulates function of liver cells and protects our liver and bile ducts. Beets have been found to build red corpuscles and add tone to blood.

Combined findings on beets suggest that beet root ingestion can be one of the useful means to prevent cancer.

Suggestion: Wrap beets in foil and roast at 400 degrees until a fork pierces easily, about 40 minutes; slip skins off with a knife tip.

Selecting Beets

Beets are available throughout the garden season. Early in the season, choose, from your garden or local farmer, the tender greens with small, immature beets (less than 1-1/2 inch in diameter). Beet greens are a delicacy and are cooked with the beet attached. As the season progresses, look for medium-sized beets that are smooth, hard and have a deep red color. Larger beets, over 2-1/2 inches in diameter, may be tough, stringy and have a woody core. Avoid soft, bruised or shriveled beets.

Buying Beets

Buy only small or medium size beets. Large beets are usually not very tender.

Do not purchase beets if they look shriveled or flabby. Beets should be firm.

Beet Nutrition

Beets are high in vitamins and minerals. Nutritionally fresh raw beets will always be superior to canned or even fresh cooked beets. Speaking of beet nutrition, here are some of the facts: they are high in folic acid, potassium, calcium and antioxidants (betacyanin, which is what gives beets their rich red color.).

Leafy beet greens are also very nutritious and can be used for juicing, or cooking as you would any other green. In fact the beet tops are more nutritious than the roots. The greens contain significantly more iron, vitamin A, potassium and calcium than the roots.

Beet Facts

  • Beets have the highest sugar content of all vegetables.
  • Beets are a unique source of phytonutrients called betalains.
  • Many of the unique phytonutrients present in beets have been shown to function as anti-inflammatory compounds.
  • In a recent study from Italy, beets were shown to be an especially important contributor of two carotenoids in the overall diet: lutein and zeaxanthin.
  • An estimated 10 to 15 percent of all U.S. adults experience beeturia (a reddening of the urine) after consumption of beets in everyday amounts.
  • Beets should be used immediately and beet roots within five to seven days.
  • Beets should be cooked whole to retain their red color.
  • Beets contain a chemical pigment called betacyanin which gives the beets their reddish color. Some people cannot metabolize this pigment and it may turn their feces and urine a red color for a few days after ingestion.
  • 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).
  • Sugar beets are approximately 20 percent sucrose by weight, twice the sugar content of standard beets. Approximately 100 pounds of sugar beets are needed to produce five pounds of sugar.
  • Fresh beet greens are one of the first vegetables in Maine markets from the summer harvest.
  • Beet fiber is a specific type 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.
  • The greens attached to the beet roots are delicious and can be prepared like spinach or Swiss chard.

Storing Beets

Mature beets can be stored without the tops for up to three weeks in a plastic bag in the refrigerator crisper. Leave the beets unwashed when storing. When cutting tops from beets, leave at least 1/2 inch of the stems and at least two inches of the tap root on the beets. If you cut closer to the beet, the color will bleed from the vegetable during cooking. If the tops are tender and you want to use them, store them separately, and use as soon as possible.

Preparing Beets

Wash beets gently before cooking, but do not pare or trim them. Breaking the skin, cutting the tap root or trimming the stem too closely will cause the color to bleed from the beets. Once cooked, run cold water over the beets to cool, and then peel by slipping the skin from them. Serve sliced, quartered, in strips, or, if small, whole. Adding an acid, such as vinegar or lemon juice, while cooking will keep them bright red.

Baking, boiling, steaming or microwaving are cooking methods to use for beets. The most popular preparation method is to boil beets. Depending on the size and age of the beets, cooking time for boiling whole beets covered in water is between 40 minutes and two hours.

One pound of small whole beets can be microwaved in 1/4 cup of liquid in 10 minutes. Baking beets whole takes longer, between 1-1/2 to two hours, but more nutrients are retained.

Some favorite ways to serve beets are seasoned with herbs, pickled and in soups or salads.

Tasty Tidbit. Try a good balsamic vinegar on beets.

What Do Beets Go Well With?

Beets pair well with flavorful goat, feta and blue cheeses, nuts and citrus fruits. They are ideal in salads, as a soup or a simple side dish, tossed with olive oil and sprinkled with pepper. Remember, however, hands aren’t the only thing beets stain red. Beets can temporarily turn some people’s urine a pink or reddish color, a condition called beeturia.

Beet Tidbits

Samuel Butler, in his Notebooks, remarked that “The beet root is a better emblem of modesty than the rose. The color is as fine; it conceals itself from the view more completely; moreover, it is good to eat, and will make excellent sugar.” Ironically, Russian ladies, both peasants and high society ladies – used the beet as a rouge for their cheeks, both to keep away mosquitos and to attract the opposite sex.

Garlicky Beet Delight Recipe

  • 6 medium beets
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
    Salt to taste

Wash the beets and boil until tender, about 45 minutes (or 20 minutes in a pressure cooker). Remove the skins by running cold water over the boiled beets, and then slipping of their skins. Slice the beets and toss with the olive oil, vinegar, garlic, and salt. Yield: 4 servings

Nutrition information per serving: Calories: 141; Total Fat: 10.3g; Cholesterol: 0mg; Sodium: 222mg; Total Carbohydrates: 11.6g; Dietary Fiber: 2.2g; Protein: 2g

Beet Chips

  • 8 beets, boiled or roasted until soft, peeled and sliced as thinly as possible
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Place the beets, salt and oil in a large bowl and toss until most of both sides of the beets are well coated. Pour the beets in a single layer onto the baking sheets, transfer to the oven, and bake until they are beginning to brown on the edges and are just crisp, about 40 minutes. Set aside to cool and then transfer to a jar or plastic bag for up to 3 days. If they become too moist, simply pop them in a 300 degree oven for about 5 minutes.

Nutrition information: Calories: 98; Fat: 1.5g; Saturated Fat: 0g; Cholesterol: 0mg; Sodium: 735mg; Carbohydrates: 19.9g; Dietary Fiber: 4g; Protein: 3.4g

Beetroot Benefits 2022

Beet FAQs

How are beets good for you?

Beets are rich in folate (vitamin B9) which helps cells grow and function. Folate plays a key role in controlling damage to blood vessels, which can reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. Beets are naturally high in nitrates, which are turned into nitric oxide in the body.

Why are beets bad for you?

Risks of overconsumption include: Increased risk of kidney stones: Since beets are high in the compound oxalate, eating too many can contribute to kidney stone formation. Beeturia: With beeturia, urine may turn pink or red. Additionally, stool may become discolored.

Is it OK to eat beets everyday?

While including beets in your daily diet, your body will receive significant amounts of nitrates. This compound will be further converted into nitric oxide which can relax and dilate the blood vessels. … This means that you will have a better circulatory system and balance blood pressure too!

Are beets high in sugar?

It’s true that beets do have more sugars than many other vegetables—about 8 grams in a serving of two small beets. But that’s hardly the same as getting 8 grams of sugars from a cookie. “Beets are high in fiber, which traps the sugar and slows its absorption into the bloodstream,” Linsenmeyer says.

Do beets make you poop?

Drinking beet juice or eating boiled beets can offer quick relief from constipation, as beets are high in the fibres that are essential for the smooth movement of the digestive waste through the intestines.

Can you eat beets raw?

If you’ll be eating beets raw, you’ll want to peel off the hard outer skin with a vegetable peeler. Fresh, raw beets can be finely grated into salads for color or used as a garnish for soup. But beets are usually roasted, boiled or steamed and cut into thin slices, cubes or chunks as in this Winter Beet Salad recipe.

Who should not eat beetroot?

While it’s benefits those with high blood pressure, the same can not be said for those with a blood pressure on the lower side. Beetroot is known as an ingredient that helps in lowering blood pressure and may therefore be dangerous for those with a medically diagnosed low blood pressure.

Do beets cause gas?

Vegetables like carrots, prunes, asparagus, onions, corn, beetroot and even garlic can cause gastric and bloating if consumed raw. Mostly the vegetables that contain sugars, soluble fibers, starch and complex carbs can be responsible for your bloated tummy.

How many beets should I eat a day to lower blood pressure?

Sipping suggestion: Research suggests that one to two cups of beet juice daily can lower blood pressure immediately (within an hour of consumption) and significantly. An English study found beet juice to be as effective as nitrate tablets in treating hypertension.

Can we eat beetroot and egg together?

As protein is missing in Beet, its added with egg to get all the nutrients delivered to the body. Apart from just being healthy , its tastes really good. Serve it as a side dish along with chapathi ,roti or rasam and rice.

What happens if I eat beetroot everyday?

Beets are highly nutritious and loaded with health-promoting properties. They can support the health of your brain, heart, and digestive system, be a great addition to a balanced diet, boost athletic performance, help alleviate inflammation, and possibly slow the growth of cancer cells.

Do beets help build your blood?

Why? Beets are rich in natural chemicals called nitrates. Through a chain reaction, your body changes nitrates into nitric oxide, which helps with blood flow and blood pressure. Beet juice may boost stamina, improve blood flow, and help lower blood pressure, some research shows.

Is beetroot good for liver?

Beetroot juice helps protect the liver from oxidative damage and inflammation, all while increasing its natural detoxification enzymes.

How long does it take to digest beets?

All you need is about half of a raw beet, and the stomach to glance into your toilet after a successful bowel movement sometime in the near future—hopefully between 12 and 24 hours after you chow down on that beet.

Can beets make your pee red?

In some people, eating beets turns urine pink or red—which can be alarming because it looks like blood in the urine. These odor and color changes are harmless. But if urine smells sweet, that’s a cause for concern because it could mean diabetes.

Do you have to peel beets?

Beets are incredibly difficult to peel, so unless you plan to eat your beets raw, just leave the skin on.

Is it better to drink beet juice or eat beets?

To get the most health benefits from beets, you should actually eat them raw or juice them, since cooking them depletes their phytonutrient value. Watch naturopathic specialist Pina LoGiudice, ND, explain why it’s best to drink beets in juice form.

Are beets vegetables?

Beetroot (Beta vulgaris) is a root vegetable also known as red beet, table beet, garden beet, or just beet. Packed with essential nutrients, beetroots are a great source of fiber, folate (vitamin B9), manganese, potassium, iron, and vitamin C. … Their leaves — known as beet greens — can also be eaten

Are Beets really a Superfood?

“The beet itself is super-healthy. … Beets are dense with nutrients, including potassium, betaine, magnesium, folate, and Vitamin C and a good dose of nitrates. Beets can also help reduce blood pressure and anemia, improve circulation and cognitive function.

Are beets good for losing weight?

Because beets are high in fiber and low in calories, they may help increase weight loss when added to a healthy diet. Each cup of beets will fill you up with 3.8 grams of fiber and only 59 calories. Once you learn how to cook beets, you can throw a handful of these tasty treats into any meal!

Is it good to eat beetroot at night?

It is the high content of nitrate in the beetroot that is the key to better sleep. After consuming, this is converted to Nitric Oxide in the blood system. Nitric Oxide is essential for a number of physiological processes that take place in the body.

When should I drink beetroot juice?

Dr. Saini also suggests that it is best to have beetroot juice early morning or one hour before your breakfast. “Drink a 200 ml glass of beetroot juice every day to reap all its benefits. But drink it fresh else the nutritional value of the juice diminishes,” she adds.

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