The Health Benefits of Beets and Beet Greens

Beets and their greens are one of our favorite things to eat. They are so delicious!  When I go to the farmers market, I always get the extra beet greens that customers never want.  The ancient Romans were the first to cultivate beets for food and the tribes that invaded Rome were responsible for introducing them to Northern Europe. Beets are a two-in-one-vegetable as you can eat both the roots and leaves. Proper preparation of beets is the key to getting the most nutrients out of them. You can enjoy them by either steaming or roasting them along side your favorite entrée. Here are some of the health benefits of eating beets and their greens.

  • Beet roots contain a unique class of phytonutrients called betalains which have been found to offer potent antioxidant protection. The roots have also been shown to contain a large amount of antioxidants.
  • Studies have shown that beets are wonderful for promoting a healthy heart. The heart-healthy nutrients found in beets include folate, fiber, potassium, magnesium, and vitamin C.
  • Beet phytonutrient pigments have been found to prevent the oxidation of LDL, which is one of the initiating steps in development of atherosclerosis.
  • Beets are a great source of manganese, copper, iron, phosphorus, and tryptophan.
  • There are 74 calories in one cup of beets and 39 calories in one cup of beet greens.
  • Similar to spinach and Swiss chard, beet greens are an excellent source of vitamin A which provides powerful protection from oxidative damage to cellular structures and DNA.
  • Beet greens are a rich source of lutein and zeaxanthin, important nutrients for health vision.
  • Red beets contain a phytonutrient called betacyanin, which provides extra nutritional not found in yellow or rainbow-colored beets.
  • Sugar beets are grown specifically for the production of refined sugar and alcohol. These large white beets are not generally eaten and their sugar content is more than twice that of red beets.

References

Mateljan, G. (2007). The Worlds Healthiest Foods. Seattle, WA: George Mateljan Foundation.