Beets | Superfood of the Month
- Beets are a member of the Amaranthaceae family which also includes Swiss chard, spinach, quinoa, amaranth, and the sugar beet which is made into beet sugar.
- Multiple varieties of beets are available including red, yellow or gold, and candy-cane striped colored Chioggia beets.
- Both the beet root and beet greens are edible. Beet roots are starchy and sweet; beet greens have a bitter taste.
- Beet greens are an excellent source of magnesium and potassium and a good source of vitamins C, A, and K. Beet roots are a good source of folate and contain the red pigment betacyanin which acts as an antioxidant.
- Magnesium regulates muscle and nerve function, blood sugar levels, and blood pressure control.
- Potassium supports communication of nerves and muscles and helps regulate fluid and mineral balance in the body.
- Vitamin C aids in the absorption of iron, is involved in wound healing, and assists in maintaining healthy bones and teeth.
- Vitamin A is involved in immune function, vision, and reproduction, and plays a role in normal formation and maintenance of the heart, lungs, and kidneys.
- Vitamin K promotes blood clotting and bone building.
- Folate is used to create DNA and reduces the risk of neural tube defects in pregnant women.
- Betacyanin acts as an antioxidant which protects healthy cells from the damage caused by free radicals.
Purchasing, Selecting, Storing, and Preparing
- Beets are available year round at grocery stores. They can be purchased fresh, canned, frozen, or pickled.
- Select beets which are small to medium sized, firm with smooth skin and a deep color. Avoid purchasing beets with scaly areas, and those that are soft or bruised.
- If consuming the beet greens, chose those with fresh, green leaves and avoid those which are wilted and spotted.
- To store, cut the greens from the beet root, leaving 2 inches of stem attached. Place unwashed beet roots in a plastic bag, removing as much air as possible, store in the refrigerator for up to three weeks.
- Store unwashed beet greens in a different plastic bag and refrigerate up to four days.
- Prepare by rinsing with cool water, then boil, steam, sauté, or shred raw for salads.
1/2 cup beet root, cooked
Calories: 37 | Protein: 1.43 g | Fat: 0.15 g | Carbohydrate: 8.47 g | Fiber: 1.7 g | Calcium: 14 mg | Magnesium: 20 mg | Potassium: 259 mg | Vitamin C: 3.1 mg | Folate: 68 µg | Vitamin A: 30 IU
1/2 cup beet greens, cooked
Calories: 19 | Protein: 1.85 g | Fat: 0.14 g | Carbohydrate: 4 g | Fiber: 2 g | Calcium: 82 mg | Magnesium: 49 mg | Potassium: 654 mg | Vitamin C: 18 mg | Folate: 10 µg | Vitamin A: 5511 IU