Health Benefits of Beets Nutritional Values, Uses for Beets 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 and beet tops by comparing their nutrition values with those of other vegetables.

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
Nutrrient per 100g
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
--

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.

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

  • Beets and beet tops have relatively higher amounts of dietary fiber compared with similar green vegetables.
  • Vitamins A, E and K are all higher than for other vegetables.
  • Iron, Magnesium, Potassium, Zinc and Copper all relatively higher in beets and tops

 
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.

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.

  • Sweet and Sour Beets
  • Beet Relish
  • Pickled Beets
  • Creamy Beet Borscht Soup
  • Cold Beet Soup
  • Chocolate Beet Cake
  • Brown Sugar Glazed Beets
  • Beets Parmesan
  • Beets with Orange Butter Sauce
  • Beet Watermelon Soup
  • Beet Sorbet
  • Beet Juice Smoothie
  • Beet 'Potato' Chips
  • Beet and Orange Salad
  • Beet Casserole
  • Baked Beets

© 2012 Dr. John Anderson

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Comments 1 comment

carol7777 profile image

carol7777 4 years ago from Arizona

So many good things to do with beets, and of course the health benefits. It is not my favorite veggie, but maybe I should rethink. Also I could use the beet greens as they offer many benefits also. Great hub and vote UP.

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