Beets: they’re tasty, they’re pretty and they’re full of health benefits. Put them in salads and smoothies, juice them or roast them—there are plenty of delicious ways to enjoy this versatile root. As long as you can remain calm on your next trip to the bathroom, adding more of this ruby-colored root vegetable to your diet is almost always a good thing.
(Of course, if you’ve never cooked with beets before, be careful when cooking: the juice can stain your clothes and skin.)
Read on to discover why beets should be a regular part of your meals.
Health benefits of beets
Not only are beets delicious, but they’re healthy, too—which is more than we can say for a lot of our favorite foods. Here are some of the health benefits you’ll enjoy when you eat more beets:
- Low in calories: 100 grams of boiled beetroot has just 44 calories, which makes beets good for any diet where you restrict calorie intake. They’re also hearty, which means you’ll feel satiated faster.
- High in vitamins and minerals: Beets are rich in folate and fiber, and are also full of vitamins C and B6. They’re also a good source of copper, iron, potassium, manganese and magnesium.
- Might improve physical performance: Beets contain nitrates, which scientists suspect may help improve athletic performance. Nitrates help improve mitochondrial efficiency, which creates energy in your cells. Eat them a couple hours before training for best results.
- Plenty of fiber: Beets contain around 3.5 grams of fiber, so you can eat them to stay regular and improve your digestive health.
- May help fight cancer: This study suggests that beets have cancer-fighting compounds like betaine, ferulic acid, rutin, kaempferol, and caffeic acid, which slow down or prevent cancerous cell division and growth.
- Helps you stay satiated: Despite the low calorie count, beets contain fiber, protein and a lot of water. The fiber and protein will help you stay satiated (fiber regulates blood sugar and contributes to feeling full), while the high water content can balance your energy intake and lose weight.
How to get more beets in your diet
Beets have an earthy, sweet flavor that plays well with a lot of different foods, but you can eat them plain and roasted, too. Here are some suggestions to increase your beet intake:
- Salads: Roast some beets in foil and keep them in your fridge for a fast, tasty salad. Goat cheese, nuts, leafy greens and vinaigrettes are all great pairings. For a truly delicious treat, add oranges, too.
- Smoothies: Stick a beet or two in your smoothie for a drink that would make even Barbie jealous.
- Juices: If you have a juicer at home, try combining beets, apples, carrots and ginger. It’s not only pretty to look at, but it’s delicious, too. (You might consider diluting the juice with some water or club soda, since the sugar content is high.)
- Baked goods: Did you know that beets can be swapped for some of the processed fats and sugar in baked goods? You’ll never even notice the taste, but the natural sweetness and pretty color will add some pizazz to your baking.
- Beet chips: Using a mandoline (or some serious knife skills), cut beets into thin slices, toss with salt and olive oil and roast them. They’re satisfying like potato chips, but prettier and healthier.
- Soups: Beets make a great soup—just ask our borscht-loving Eastern European friends. You can even use them in vegetarian chili for a touch of earthy sweetness.
- Pasta: Some creative chefs use beets in their pasta, combining the vegetable with herbs, cream and other ingredients to create a velvety red sauce. It might not replace your traditional tomato sauce, but it’s surprisingly delicious.
As you can see, there are plenty of ways that you can increase your beet intake—and because they’re so good for you, it’s a guilt-free way to enjoy a sweet treat. However, if you are sensitive to sugar, you may want to consult a doctor first. Beets contain nine grams of sugar per cup. While that’s a healthier form of sugar than processed white sugar, it can affect certain diets and health conditions. As always, moderation is key.
With the winter holidays on the way, why not add beets to your festive meals? Between the color, flavor and health benefits, they deserve a place of honor on your dining room table.