Everything About Beetroots That You Wouldn’t Believe

Beetroots are a big topic that holds a huge debate, especially in the taste department. Some love their naturally sweet flavor while others loathe the earthy taste that beets bring to the table. Regardless, there’s no denying that these amazing beets are packed with some health-promoting benefits.

Besides being packed with vitamins and minerals, beets are also high in other compounds such as antioxidants, carotenoids, and nitrates. In addition, beets are super versatile and can be easily incorporated into many delicious dishes. No wonder they have been used as a means of natural medicine for thousands of years!

So why are beets good for you, and is it ok to eat beets every day? Read on to find out more!

Table of Content

What Are Beets

Grown in the ground, these root vegetables are actually related to turnips, swedes, and sugar beets. Beet is a herbaceous plant that belongs to the family Amaranthaceae. Native to India, beets can now be found all over the world today, including Mediterranean areas and in Europe! The color of the beet is a good indicator of the sweetness, with white beets containing the least amount of sugar and beets with red the greatest amount.

Often referred to as “beetroots”, some of the common varieties of beets include yellow beets, white beets, and chioggia beets. Red beets are the most common ones, with deep red stalk and meaty roots.

Leaves of beetroot are edible, though they taste like spinach. And you are right! Beets are actually related to Swiss Chard, which explains the physical characteristics their leaves both share – colors, shapes, tastes, etc. The leaves are sought for their tender texture and mild flavor. Beets have high nutritional value besides having a high content of sugar; they are a rich source of vitamins B6 and other minerals, and are famed for having this type of phytonutrients called betalains, which also give beets its bright purple color!

How to Select the Best Beets From Your Local Market

It shouldn’t be a tough task to choose the best beets from your local market! Follow these tips and guidelines to see what you should look out for when you’re at your local market to avoid picking bad beets as much as possible!

A Bunch of Fresh Beets With Greens

Physical Appearance: When shopping for beets at your local markets, make sure to look out for good deep maroon colors of beets with firm and slender roots and bright, fresh green leaves. The beets should also have a small top, small tail, and round firmness to them! The beets should also come attached with their green leaves. Beets with attached greens are a good indicator that the beets are fresh, as beets with wilted greens are the ones that are old. Beets leaves shouldn’t be withered, yellow, or with blemished spots.

Size: In terms of size, try to go for small to medium-sized beets (about 3.8 centimeters) as these are pleasantly cooked in less time than larger ones! Smaller beets are also much sweeter compared to their bigger counterparts!

Avoid beets that have surface bruises and cuts! These beets should be free of moisture, flabbiness and not too soft when squeezed! Larger beets with hairy taproot (the thin, pointy tip of roots) should also be avoided as that could be an indicator that the beets are tough!

How Do Beets Taste Like

Although beets are not as sweet as sugarbeets, they still have a remarkably high sugar content that comes out if you know how to properly prepare them well. Many people would think beets taste like dirt, thus are terrified of eating them.

In all fairness, yes! They can be a bit earthy in flavor if they are not properly washed and cooked. This is mainly because beets are a root vegetable and soil clings to them, drawing the dull, earthy, and muddy flavor along with it.

However, a beet that is prepared well will be sweet, with a floral hint of flavor and a juicy crunch. If you like eating spinach and mushrooms, then you’re more likely to enjoy beets’ flavor as well. If you’re sensitive to the smell in the air after a rainstorm, you may be less likely to enjoy beets.

What Is the Texture of Beets

Fresh beets are very firm to the touch, retaining much of their crunch when it’s raw. This texture is often compared to carrots which means you could add cut beets to dishes to add some crunch element to the overall profile of the dish. However, the texture changes when beets are cooked, making them tender and creamy.

Favorite Beetroot Recipes

Due to its earthiness and sweetness, beetroot can be added to most dishes that have root vegetables in them. Root vegetables include carrots, turnips, and radishes, etc. With its dense and slight floral hint as well, pairing beetroot with other ingredients has to be considered fairly well to get the flavors out well. Give these recipes a try to see if what’s been said is true!

  • Beetroot, carrot & orange salad
  • Smoked Salmon with Horseradish and Beetroot
  • Root Vegetable Salad

Top 8 Health Benefits of Beetroot

Beets are definitely a powerhouse when it comes to their nutritional values! Why? Beetroots are loaded with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants like carotenoids but also most notably the main plant compounds like Betanin and inorganic nitrates! There are so many debates going on over the flavor of beetroots but one thing for sure is the benefits beets bring to the table! What are the benefits of Beets? Read on to find out more!

  • High in Antioxidants
  • Boost Brain Function
  • Support Digestive Health
  • Enhance Athletic Performance
  • Relieve Inflammation
  • Promote Heart Health
  • Aid in Detoxification
  • Support Weight Loss
1. High in Antioxidants
Superfoods Forming the Word Antioxidant

Antioxidants are compounds that help neutralize harmful free radicals – unstable atoms that can damage cells and are linked to aging and a host of diseases – preventing oxidative stress and damage to your cells. Multiple studies have found that antioxidants could protect against many types of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and many more.

Beets are also high in phytonutrients, antioxidants, vitamins, and trace minerals. In fact, beets contain a special compound (phytonutrients) of their own class known as betalains. Betalains are powerful compounds that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and contribute to many of the health benefits of beets!

Betalains act as natural plant pigments that are responsible for providing beets with their vibrant color. These pigments have been found to be able to protect against the development of certain types of cancer and other diseases. Beets greens also contain a good amount of lutein and zeaxanthin, two carotenoids that are responsible for maintaining good eye health and reducing the risk of conditions like macular degeneration and cataracts.

2. Boost Brain Function
Brain Anatomy Indicating Brain Health

As you get older, it’s normal to experience a decline in mental and cognitive capacity and function as conditions like Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s become more prevalent. Don’t worry as beets got you covered!

Because of the high content of dietary nitrates which beets contain, it is thought that beets can benefit brain health and may help protect against age-related cognitive decline. A study published has found that a diet high in nitrates helps increase blood flow to the brain region which helps in more swift functioning.

3. Support Digestive Health

Beets are very rich in fiber, which moves through the intestines undigested, adding bulk to the stool to help support regularity and promote digestion!

Increasing fiber intake would therefore result in an increase in stool frequency for people with constipation. However, to solve ongoing digestive issues like constipation, there is always more to just consuming foods rich in fiber only! In addition, studies have also shown that upping fiber intake like beetroots benefits digestive health in many ways and may be protective against conditions like hemorrhoids and GERD.

4. Enhance Athletic Performance
Athlete With High Energy Sprinting

Doesn’t matter if you are a novice athlete or a competitive gym-goer, beets got you covered! In fact, beets are commonly used with bananas by athletes of all levels, mainly due to the powerful effect they have on boosting athletic performance. Why? This is because the nitrates that beets contain have been shown to improve the efficiency of mitochondria, which is the organelle responsible for generating energy for the cells in your body.

Studies have found that consuming beets daily extended time to exhaustion of athletes during high-intensity exercises by 15-25%, which is a 1-2% improvement in overall performance. Eating beets may also improve cycling performance and increase oxygen use by up to 20%!

Do take note that to maximize the potential that nitrates provide for your body physiologically, consume beets 2-3 hours before training or competing as the blood nitrate levels peak within 2-3 hours!

5. Relieve Inflammation

In most cases, inflammation occurs when the immune system senses that there are foreign invaders that have entered the body or if there are ongoing infections happening at any point in the body. In other words, inflammation is a normal response by the immune system to protect you! However, it’s not the same case for chronic inflammation. In fact, it’s found that chronic inflammation is at the root of most diseases and may be a major contributor to ailments or conditions like heart diseases, cancer, and even diabetes.

Consuming whole foods like beets instead of having a diet very high in inflammatory sources is a superb way to keep inflammation low!

In fact, beets have been shown to reduce oxidative stress and inflammation in not only rats but also in humans, largely due to their anti-inflammatory properties that lower inflammatory markers.

6. Promote Heart Health
Illustration of Strong Heart Carrying Weights

Heart disease is a major problem and a leading cause of death in the world. Heart disease is an umbrella term for many types of weakened heart functions such as coronary heart diseases, heart rhythm disturbances, and many more.

Thankfully, one of the biggest benefits of beets is their ability to promote heart health. Beets are a rich source of inorganic dietary nitrates, which act as vasodilators to aid in improving blood flow and reducing blood pressure. Beets also help lower levels of bad LDL cholesterol in people with high blood pressure as they help relax and widen the arteries and veins for better blood flow around the whole body!

7. Aid in Detoxification
Fruits and Vegetables Forming the Word Detox

Our body has its own built-in detoxification system that helps keep you healthy by clearing out toxins in many forms. Our kidneys filter blood and produce urine, our lungs absorb oxygen then expel carbon dioxide, our skin pushes waste products out of our body through the skin pores, and your intestines extract nutrients and dispose of waste. Meanwhile, your liver also plays a huge role in detoxification by removing toxic wastes from your blood and filtering out what it doesn’t need before it releases it back to the bloodstream.

Thankfully, nature provides us with one of the raw materials that we need to heal our liver without investing in fancy liver cleanse supplements! Beets!

Beets help benefits liver function by stimulating lymphatic flow and increasing the levels of specific enzymes and bile flow involved in detoxification, helping to keep the liver running efficiently without it tiring down.

8. Support Weight Loss
Lady Measuring Waist Circumference Using Measuring Tape Indicating Weight Loss

Beets are loaded with fiber but low in calories, which makes them a great addition to the list of “High Nutrient-Dense Food”. They are an excellent addition to your diet if you’re looking to shed a few extra pounds!

This is mainly due to the speed that fiber moves through the digestive tract, which helps keep you feeling full longer. This supports satiety and promote weight loss. It’s shown that upping your fiber intake by 14 grams per day would lead to a 10 percent decrease in daily caloric intake and increased weight loss

How to Handle Beets

Can’t wait to enjoy the numerous benefits of beets? I feel you! But given that there are numerous ways to prepare beets, I’d have to stop you right there before we proceed on to consuming them! These cooking ways help retain the nutritional values of beets and also help to avoid the messiness that would be left behind by these quirky and humble beets during the preparation process! Below are 3 simple main ways you could follow to cook the beets you have!

1. Roasting Beets

Roasting beets is a simple way to prepare beautiful beets! In addition, roasting beets enhances the flavor of beets, releasing it’s earthy and sweet flavor!

How To Roast Beets

  • Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius
  • Gently rinse beets and trim off stems and leafy tops (save for beets green salad)
  • Wrap beets loosely in aluminium foil and place it in the middle of oven
  • Roast beets until tender, roughly about 30-35 mins (depending on the size of beets). Use the piercing method to determine!
  • Once it’s tender, beets are cooked. Removed from the oven and take off the foil
  • Immediately transfer the roasted beets into a bowl of cold water to stop the cooking process! This action also helps with the skin removal process.
  • Slice off leaf end after beets are cool enough to handle. After which, push skin off using your thumbs. If skin doesn’t easily strip away, you could roast them further for another 8-10 mins!

Roasted Beets Recipe

  • Rosemary Roasted Beets and Carrots
2. Steaming Beets

Steaming beets (with skins) is a simple and fast way to prepare beets for consumption. Steaming beets also helps retain their nutrition and are definitely a great option if you are thinking of going for salads or smoothies!

How To Steam Beets

  • Gently rinse beets and trim off stems and leafy tops (put aside for sauteed beet greens)
  • Fill the bottom of the steamer with 2-3 inches of water
  • While the water is heating, wash beets. Only trim necessarily, leaving 2 inches of root and 1 inch of stem on the beets. Cut beets into quarters, cubes sizes. Do not peel the skin as they are normally there to help retain beets’ nutrients while cooking.
  • Steam beets then cover with the lid for about 15-20 minutes. Beets are cooked when you could easily pierce it using a fork or the tip of a pairing knife into the beets!
  • Once steamed, transfer the beets over to a bowl of cold water. This stops the cooking process and helps with the skin removal process!
  • Slice off leaf end after beets are cool enough to handle. After which, push skin off using your thumbs. If skin doesn’t easily strip away, you could roast them further for another 8-10 mins!

Steamed Beets Recipe

  • Smoked Salmon with Horseradish and Beetroot
  • Beets and Peach Salad
3. Boiled Beets

Boiling beets is a simple way to prepare beets for consumption! Beets are best cooked with the skin attached as the skins will help preserve its nutrients and prevent color from leaking out! Bonus tip: Add lemon juice or vinegar to the pot when cooking will preserve the color!

How To Boil Beets

  • Gently rinse beets and trim off stems and leafy tops (put aside for sauteed beet greens)
  • Place beets in a large saucepan
  • Add water to cover the top of beets (squeeze in half a lemon juice or add in 2 tbsp of vinegar to brighten up the color of the beets while boiling)
  • Bring water to a boil then reduce heat and simmer until tender, about 45 minutes.
  • Remove saucepan from the stove then drain water out to let the beets cool down.
  • Slice off leaf end after beets are cool enough to handle. After which, push skin off using your thumbs. If skin doesn’t easily strip away, you could roast them further for another 8-10 mins!

Boiled Beets Recipes

  • Beets with Toasted Walnuts
  • Beetroot, carrot & orange salad
  • Root Vegetable Salad

How to Store Beets

To store beets, immediately trim off the greens 2 inches from the bulb when you reach home as the leaves sap moisture off from the root. Do not dispose of the leaves as they are edible! Instead, store the leaves in a separate plastic bag or Ziplock bag and have all the air removed before storing in the refrigerator. Storing beet greens like this will preserve their freshness for up to 5 days. In case you didn’t know, beet greens can be used to substitute Swiss Chards or Spinach, which are delicious when sauteed for a couple of minutes in a little olive oil or be used in green salads).

Next, for storing of beets; Do not wash the beets before storing them! Beets must be completely dry before storing until you’re ready to eat them if not they won’t last as long as it should have. Once the beet greens have been trimmed off, place the dried beets in plastic storage bags or another Ziplock bag and remove any excess air before sealing. If beets are stored beets can stay fresh in the refrigerator in the crisper drawer for up to 1-3 months!

Lastly, take note: Do not trim the tail! Leave it attached as once the tail is lost, the beets will start to bleed and you will lose precious juicy flavor.

Beetroot Side Effects

Although beets are generally safe to consume, it’s still advisable to have them in moderation, especially for those who may be allergic to beets. Some common beets allergic symptoms which you may experience are hives, itching, or swelling. If this happens to you, stop eating immediately and seek your doctor!

You may be wondering if beets are high in sugar? Beets are, in fact one of the vegetables highest in natural sugar. Although consuming about a cup of beets daily generally does not have a negative effect on blood sugar levels or weight, they might mean trouble for some people especially for those who are looking to control their blood sugar levels or are diabetics.

However, that doesn’t mean you should totally exclude beets from your diabetic diet programs as beets contain many health benefits which were mentioned earlier on, that are beneficial for diabetics!

Bonus tips: Just remember to leave the skin on as it is packed with fiber for Diabetes Type 2 people! Also, try to consume beets in the day so that the natural sugars get used up slowly and steadily throughout the day!

In Conclusion

Beets are no doubt an awesome vegetables that add another level of unusual sweetness to your palate, whether it’s to your salads or desserts! Beets’ benefits come from the fact that it’s low in calories yet high in fiber, antioxidants and many other important micronutrients and such as potassium and folate. All these nutrients benefit you in many ways – reduced inflammation, improved detoxification, enhanced athletic performance, and many more!

In addition to beets’ extraordinary flavor, their versatility is also something to be appraised for. However, always opt for fresh beets over canned beets whenever possible to reduce exposure to added preservatives and sodium.

Lastly, enjoy your beets and start adding them to your salads or even use the beets green to substitute Swiss Chards or Spinach in your next meal!


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