Written by Maddy Hatch, Education & Curriculum Development Intern
What are beets?
Beetroots or beets are a common root vegetable packed with nutrients. Beets are often distinguished by their red/purple hue, though they also come in pink, yellow, and white varieties. Beets prefer cool temperatures and usually thrive when planted in mid-August to early October for a fall or early winter harvest (Pothour 2011). The typical garden beet has a dark pink/purple root with stems and green leaves poking out of the soil. One major benefit of growing beets is that each part of the plant is edible: both the beetroot and beet greens are filled with essential nutrients.
What are the nutritional benefits?
Beets contain several important vitamins and minerals. These include:
- Folate (vitamin B9). This B vitamin supplements tissue growth and cell function. Especially important for pregnant women (Bjarnadottir 2019).
- Manganese. A trace mineral important for the normal functioning of your brain and nervous system (Goodson 2018).
- Potassium. Potassium helps reduce blood pressure levels and is good for heart health (Bjarnadottir 2019).
- Iron. An essential mineral that is important for growth and development. Iron helps transport oxygen throughout the body with red blood cells (HHS 2021).
- Vitamin C. An important vitamin for immunity that also has antioxidant properties which fight against cell damage (Bjarnadottir 2019).
Another nutritional benefit of beets is that they are high in fiber. Fiber helps regulate the body’s use of sugars, helps lower blood cholesterol, and helps food move through your digestive system (Harvard 2019). Fiber is a crucial component of any balanced diet. Beets also contain several notable plant compounds. First is betanin, the pigment that is responsible for the beet’s distinctive color and is known to be beneficial to health. Additionally, beets contain high amounts of nitrates. Research shows that these inorganic compounds can help lower blood pressure levels among other health benefits (Bjarnadottir 2019). Overall, the beetroot and beet greens are chock-full with important vitamins and minerals, making the beet a powerful source of nutrition in your garden.
Best ways to eat beets?
Beetroots have a distinct earthy flavor — that some people believe tastes like dirt. However, there are several delicious ways to prepare beats that mellow out their earthy flavor. Beets are a fantastic ingredient for soups, salads, smoothies, and more. As previously mentioned, you can use every part of the beet in your cooking. This makes beets the perfect vegetable to highlight as we focus on our mission of reducing waste. Below are a few recipes to help you make the most out of your beet harvest.
- Roasted Beet Hummus from Minimalist Baker
- This hot pink hummus is full of vitamins and minerals and is perfect with veggies, pita, or as a spread.
- Sautéed Beet Greens from the Food Network
- Similar to swiss chard, here’s a simple way to serve beet greens — sautéed with garlic and a hint of lemon!
- Beet and Goat Cheese Arugula Salad from Giada De Laurentiis
- Roasted beets pair perfectly with creamy goat cheese in this simple arugula salad.
- Zero Waste Beet Salad from Half Your Plate
- This recipe us both the beetroot and greens in one delicious summer salad.
We hope these recipes inspire you to add beets to your next grocery or farmer’s market list. Or perhaps — you’ll consider planting them in your own garden!
Beet hummus image: https://minimalistbaker.com/roasted-beet-hummus/
Bjarnadottir, A. (2019, March 8). Beetroot 101: Nutrition facts and health benefits. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/foods/beetroot.
Cleveland Clinic. (2020, December 28). The health benefits of beets. Cleveland Clinic. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/the-health-benefits-of-beets/.
Filippone, P. T. (2021, July 29). Beets are the sweetest root vegetable you’ll cook with. The Spruce Eats. https://www.thespruceeats.com/beet-facts-selection-and-storage-1807488.
Goodson, A. (2018, August 31). 10 evidence-based benefits of manganese. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/manganese-benefits.
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. (2019, October 28). Fiber. The Nutrition Source. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/carbohydrates/fiber/.
Miller, L. (2020, September 21). Planting guide for beets. Home Guides | SF Gate. https://homeguides.sfgate.com/planting-guide-beets-25665.html.
Pothour, G. (2011). Growing beets in Sacramento. UCCE Master Gardeners of Sacramento County. http://sacmg.ucanr.edu/Growing_beets/#:~:text=.ucdavis.edu.-,Planting,in%20fall%20to%20early%20winter.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2021, March 22). Office of dietary supplements – iron. NIH Office of Dietary Supplements. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/iron-consumer/.