Health and Nutritional Benefits of Beets as Juice, Vegetable and Tops

Beets, also known as beetroot, are highly nutritious, with an outstanding array of health benefits as shown by the nutritional data for beets and their green tops. Beet plants belong to the Amaranthaceae Faimily (Scientific name: Beta vulgaris).

Swiss chard is also a member of the Beta genus, but it is grown for its edible leaves. Beet tops are being more widely used as well as the roots. Beet roots have been widely used in salad (freshly cooked or canned).

However, their use has been expanding recently as many people have recognized their nutritional value.

Beets are increasingly being used as baked or steamed vegetable to accompany main meal dishes. When baked or steamed whole without peeling, they retain all of the wonderful nutrients. While most beet roots are purple there are various cultivars with different colors ranging from red to orange-yellow and white.

This article highlights the health benefits of beets as juice, vegetable, roots and also as beet tops.

Learn how to grow Beets in your own garden - when to plant it in your Hardiness Zone.

Both the tops and roots of beets can be used for a variety of dishes. Beets are very nutritious providing many health benefits
Both the tops and roots of beets can be used for a variety of dishes. Beets are very nutritious providing many health benefits. Source: Pixabay

Health Benefits of Beets

The health benefits of beets and beet tops are summarized in the tow table below, with the second table providing a comparison with other similar green vegetables.

Beets are relatively very low in calories, with only about 45 Cal in 100g of beets, and are relatively fat and cholesterol free. The nutritional benefits of beets are showcased in the levels of fiber, minerals, vitamins and a range of anti-oxidants. The characteristic red-purple color of red beet is due to unique betalain pigments, such as betacyanin and betanin. Several of the yellow colors are rich in ß-xanthin pigment. These pigments have antioxidant properties

Raw beets are a fabulous source of folates with about 110 micrograms per 100 g of beets. This represents about 28% of the recommended daily allowance for folate. However, beware that heating and cooking an destroy folates.

Beets, especially the tops, contain significant amounts of vitamin C, (30mg for tops and 5 mg for beets respectively). Vitamin C is a powerful natural antioxidant and helps maintain the immune system

Beet tops are a fabulous source of flavonoid anti-oxidants, carotenoids, Vitamin C and vitamin Aand dietary fiber. Vitamin A is important for maintaining healthy skin and mucus membranes and helps mainatin vision.

Beet roots is also rich source of niacin, pyridoxine, pantothenic acid and carotenoids, 

Beets are rich various important minerals and minerals such as iron, potassium, manganese, selenium and magnesium. The levels of potassium are particularly significant with 325 mg of potassium present in 100g of root and 763 mg in beet tops. This provides about 10% of daily recommended allowance for potassium.

Nutrient value
% recom. daily allowance
Energy
45 Cal
2%
Carbohydrates
9.56 g
7%
Protein
1.61 g
1%
Total Fat
0.17 g
0.50%
Cholesterol
0 mg
0%
Dietary Fiber
2.80 g
7%
Vitamins
 
 
Folates
109 mcg
27%
Niacin
0.334 mg
2%
Pantothenic acid
0.15 mg
3%
Pyridoxine
0.06 mg
5%
Riboflavin
0.06 mg
4%
Thiamin
0.03 mg
2.50%
Vitamin A
33 IU
1%
Vitamin C
4.9 mg
8%
Vitamin E
0.04 mg
0.50%
Vitamin K
0.2 mcg
0%
Electrolytes
 
 
Sodium
78 mg
5%
Potassium
325 mg
7%
Minerals
 
 
Calcium
16 mg
1.50%
Copper
0.07 mg
8%
Iron
0.80 mg
10%
Magnesium
23 mg
6%
Manganese
0.33 mg
14%
Zinc
0.35 mg
3%
Phyto-nutrients
 
 
Carotene-ß
20 mcg
--
Betaine
128.7 mg
--
Lutein-zeaxanthin
0 mcg
--

Selection and Storage of Beets

Always select fresh, firm, bright, beets with a 'plumped and primed' texture with fresh looking tops that are not withered. Avoid those with slump looking or soft in consistency. Whenever possible, choose organic beets to ensure you are getting all the health benefits. 

Beet greens, or whole beets should be washed thoroughly before using them using clean running water. Rinsing in saline water is a good idea for about 30 minutes at this helps remove dirt, soil and any insecticide or other chemical residues. Top greens should be used as soon as possible while they are still fresh. Beetroot bulbs can be kept in the refrigerator in the vegetable storage section with a relatively high relative humidity for several weeks.

Comparison with Other Green Vegetables

 
beet greens
beets
broccoli
Brussels sprouts
cabbage, savoy
potato, white
pumpkin
100g
(raw)
(raw)
(raw)
(raw)
(raw)
(baked, with skin)
(raw)
Calories (kcal)
21
42
34
43
27
94
25
Protein (g)
2.21
1.6
2.82
3.38
2
2.1
1
Total Fat (g)
0.13
0.18
0.37
0.3
0.1
0.15
0.1
Total Carbohydrates (g)
4.34
9.56
6.64
8.95
6.1
21.08
6.5
Dietary Fiber (g)
3.68
2.79
2.64
3.75
3.14
2.1
0.52
Sugar (g)
0.5
6.76
1.7
2.2
2.27
1.53
1.36
Vitamins
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Vitamin C (mg)
30
4.85
89.23
85
31
12.61
8.97
Thiamin (mg)
0.1
0.03
0.07
0.14
0.07
0.05
0.05
Riboflavin (mg)
0.22
0.04
0.12
0.09
0.03
0.04
0.11
Niacin (mg)
0.4
0.33
0.64
0.75
0.3
1.53
0.6
Pantothenic Acid (mg)
0.25
0.15
0.57
0.31
0.19
0.38
0.3
Vitamin B6 (mg)
0.11
0.07
0.17
0.22
0.19
0.21
0.06
Folate (mcg)
15.79
108.82
62.64
61.36
80
37.68
15.52
Vitamin B12 (mcg)
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
Vitamin A (IU)
6326
32
623
755
1000
10
7384
Vitamin E (mg)
1.5
0.04
0.78
0.88
0.17
0.04
1.05
Vitamin K (mcg)
400
0.15
101.65
177.05
68.86
2.68
1.03
Minerals
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Calcium (mg)
115.79
16.18
47.25
42.05
34.29
10.14
20.69
Iron (mg)
2.58
0.79
0.73
1.4
0.4
0.64
0.79
Magnesium (mg)
71.05
23.53
20.88
22.73
28.57
26.81
12.07
Phosphorus (mg)
42.11
39.71
65.93
69.32
41.43
75.36
44.83
Potassium (mg)
763.16
325
316.48
388.64
230
544.2
339.66
Sodium (mg)
226.32
77.94
32.97
25
28.57
7.25
1.72
Zinc (mg)
0.37
0.35
0.41
0.42
0.27
0.35
0.33
Copper (mg)
0.19
0.08
0.05
0.07
0.06
0.13
0.13
Manganese (mg)
0.39
0.33
0.21
0.34
0.18
0.19
0.12
Selenium (mcg)
0.79
0.74
2.53
1.59
0.86
0.51
0.34
Fatty Acids
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Saturated Fat (g)
0.02
0.03
0.04
0.06
0.01
0.02
0.05
Monounsaturated Fat (g)
0.03
0.03
0.01
0.02
0.01
0
0.01
Polyunsaturated Fat (g)
0.04
0.06
0.04
0.15
0.05
0.04
0.01

Athletic Performance Benefits of Beetroot Juice

Scientific research over the last two years has rather surprisingly found that taking beet juice regularly enhances athletic performance for activities such as cycling. The study showed that cyclists who ingested about half a liter (1 pint; 16 fluid ounces of beetroot juice) before a 3 mile (5 km) or a 10-mile (16 km) time trial performed significantly better (about a 5% increase). They also generated more power during each stroke of the pedals.

Beetroot juice has become a staple among British track and field athletes training for the Olympics, including Mo Farah, and several of the United States Olympic marathon runners. It is also widely used by runners, swimmers, rowers and cyclists, and quite a sports competitors such as soccer players.

It isn't quite clear just how beetroot juice improves performance. But it does seems to improve blood and oxygen flow to muscles. It also seems to improve the way muscles use oxygen. The end result is that there appears to be a lower oxygen cost for work and exercise when someone consumes beetroot juice.

This effect has been demonstrated in trails where volunteers who drank beetroot juice for a week beforehand, were shown be be able to walk or run for significantly longer on a treadmill than those who had drunk a placebo juice. It appears that beetroot juice is of benefit for high energy activity rather than the slow and steady exercises like long distance cycling. In other words, beetroot juice may be of benefit for 800-meter runner but perhaps not a marathon runner. It also appears that the benefits are shown when the juice is consumer regularly over a period of time rather than once only just before a race.

Uses of Beets and Beet Tops

Fresh beet tops can be sauteed, boiled or steamed as a green vegetable. The slightly sweetish taste of beet tops makes them an ideal addition to a fresh salads and they are also an excellent addition to stir fry dishes.

Beets themselves are very versatile and can be baked, steamed, boiled and fried(after cutting into slices). The following list provides some recipe ideas.




 
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