Why Beets Are Super Healthy and a Wonder Food

Beets and beet greens are rich in folate, calcium, and iron.
Beets and beet greens are rich in folate, calcium, and iron.

Getting the Most Out of Beet Roots and Greens

Nutritional Value
Health Benefits
High in minerals including potassium, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus.
Wash and peel the root. Slice and steam, bake, or boil.
No fat and high in natural fiber.
Disease-fighting properties.
Wash greens thoroughly. Saute or steam. These greens cook quickly.
A good source of folate.
Vision support.
Eat one medium-sized beet a week. Drink water to facilitate detoxifying benefits.

I wonder about the first person hungry enough to take a grey bulb from the ground, brush off the dirt and eat it. There is nothing to attract one to the beta vulgaris, or beet root. It is a vegetable that comes covered in grime, showing no hint of the gorgeous ruby color hidden within. But once the skin is peeled back, the richness inside is unexpected and astonishing. Cooked, the flesh is tender and almost buttery in flavor. Beets have high sugar content but are still low in calories. It is indeed a wonder food.

An Ancient Food

The beet has been cultivated for thousands of years and is believed to have spread from the Mediterranean into Babylonia. An interesting note here is that the prophet Daniel, from the Holy Bible, was a captive in Babylonia. He and his friends refused to eat the King’s rich food and insisted on their own diet. After ten days of only vegetables and water, the young men were healthier and looked better than the ones who ate the King’s food and drank wine. One must consider that Daniel ate beets. The antioxidants and vitamins from the beet and the detoxification effect on the body may have given Daniel glowing complexion and great energy.

How to Prepare Beets

To get prime benefit from beets, eat at least one medium-sized beet every week.

Beets, like any food, are best served organic and as fresh as possible. Many local farms, farmers markets, and natural food stores sell beets year-round. At peak season, you can find the greens as well as the root. The greens are full of vitamins and minerals (actually even more than the roots). They should be bright and fresh-looking. Limp or brown greens might be old or even close to spoiled.

When harvesting or buying beets, look for medium-sized bulbs that are firm and smooth. Young beets can be washed well and cooked with the skin on as they are so tender.

Vegetables should never be overcooked and beets are no exception. The longer a food is cooked, the less nutrition it will have. Beets (and all veggies) should still be crisp to the teeth. Steam about 15 minutes. Then the skins can be removed with a peeler. Cut the cooked root into quarters or slices then continue cooking until fork-tender. Beets will stain the hands, so wear gloves or rub a bit of oil over hands before handling.

Health Benefits of Beets

Some disorders that may be alleviated with regular beet use are:

  • Acidosis
  • Anemia
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Blood pressure
  • Cancer
  • Constipation
  • Dandruff
  • Gastric ulcer
  • Gall bladder and kidney ailments
  • Gout
  • Liver
  • Bile
  • Varicose veins

Scientists today are learning more about the nutrient quality of beets and the possible use in fighting aging and cancers. The primary ingredient in beets is betalain, which helps the body develop antioxidant enzymes. In recent studies, antioxidants have been shown to prevent cancer development. The dark red violet pigments in beets are betacyanins from betalamic acid. Many of these betalains function as antioxidants and anti-inflammatory molecules. They are also water soluble and have a nitrogen content unlike other foods.

The phytonutrients in beets and their related family of plants assist in treating nervous system disorders. One of the antioxidents highly concentrated in beets is lutein which shows great promise in the treatment of eye disorders. Over 1.75 million people in the United States alone have macular degeneration. This number is estimated at more than 3 million by the year 2020. Can a simple vegetable be the dietary change that prevents this from happening? Possibly.

More and more, we are learning that a person’s diet is directly related to whole body health. Diabetes and heart disease can been reduced or eliminated through diet. Cancers, muscle and nerve degeneration, and even pain can be relieved by consuming whole foods. Beets can be consumed straight from the garden with minimal effort.

Detoxifying and Anti-Inflammatory

Since beets detoxify the body, one should exercise caution if experiencing dizziness or light headedness. I personally had this happen. I ate two medium-sized beets and drank the broth they were cooked in. About an hour later I had a bout of dizziness that lasted several hours. The next day I felt great and had superior energy and stamina. Now I limit intake to one medium beet per day. Start with one per week and build up as your body becomes accustomed. Drinking more water to flush out the toxins will help also.

During the detoxification process, toxic substances in the body become water soluble and are neutralized. Then they can be excreted through the urine. Beets can lessen the time toxins are in the body and provide quick cleansing.

Beets, especially the greens, contain measurable amounts of oxalates. Oxalates can become too concentrated in body fluids and crystallize, causing health problems. People with kidney or gallbladder problems may want to avoid eating beet greens. Oxalates may also interfere with absorption of calcium from the body. Yet, their ability to lower calcium absorption is relatively small and does not outweigh their calcium contribution.

Beets, as mentioned earlier, have anti-inflammatory benefits as well. This happens through the inhibition of COX 1 and 2 enzymes that trigger inflammation. The betaine nutrient in the body comes from the B complex vitamin choline. Choline regulates inflammation in the cardiovascular system by preventing excess buildup of homocysteine. Atherosclerosis and other heart disorders may be reduced or prevented by regular intake of the simple beet which contains betaine. Betaine also is of help with Type 2 diabetes for the same reasons.

In addition to the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, beets are high in fiber. The particular type of fiber found in beets provides exceptional digestive tract support because it includes polysaccharides pectin.

Note: Regular consumption of beets can cause urine to become red or pink in color. This condition is known as beeturia and is not harmful. I mention it because it can cause concern if one is not aware.

Nutrients in Beet Roots and Greens

  • Heart-healthy folate
  • The antioxidant manganese
  • Potassium
  • Dietary fiber
  • Free radical scavenging Vitamin C
  • Copper
  • Magnesium (good for bone health)
  • Energy-producing iron and phosphorus
  • Vitamins A, B1, B2, and B6
  • Calcium
  • Sodium
  • Iron
  • Choline
  • Iodine

Eat one medium-sized beet every week for best results.
Eat one medium-sized beet every week for best results. | Source

Raw Beets

Nutrition Facts
Serving size: 1 cup
Calories 58
Calories from Fat0
% Daily Value *
Fat 0 g
Saturated fat 0 g
Unsaturated fat 0 g
Carbohydrates 13 g4%
Sugar 9 g
Fiber 4 g16%
Protein 2 g4%
Cholesterol 0 mg
Sodium 106 mg4%
* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.

I hope this short article has encouraged you to look into the health benefits of beets. I have seen a change in my own life since I added them to our table on a regular basis. I am not a physician or medical practitioner of any kind. This is what works for me. As I become more health conscious, I find simple and non-processed foods are keeping me vital. Consult your doctor if you have any health concerns. I am forever grateful to God who created the foods that keep us well.

Comments 26 comments

create a page profile image

create a page 5 years ago from Maryland, USA

I enjoyed reading your informative article. I did not know that beet can make you dizzy due to the detoxification process. Thanks for sharing.

Hyphenbird profile image

Hyphenbird 5 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful Author

createapage, thanks for reading the Hub. I love beets and have received such benefits that I wanted to share the information. Yeah, the first time I got dizzy it scared me. I am so glad you found this helpful.

WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

Useful Hub, and I've grown to like beets.

Poohgranma profile image

Poohgranma 5 years ago from On the edge

Pickled beets were always part of Sunday dinner at my German Grandma's house. I buy myself a jar of them a couple times of year and sit down with a fork and the jar and consume about half a jar at a time and then I'm good for another couple of months, but when I want them, there is no substitute. I can't abide creamed beets though - my school used to serve those ........yuck!

Hyphenbird profile image

Hyphenbird 5 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful Author

WillStarr, thanks for the read and comment. Liking beets is wonderful and a way of healthy eating.

Hyphenbird profile image

Hyphenbird 5 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful Author

Hi Pooh. Thank you for the read and comment. I have never had creamed beets. I am not really big on anything creamed. But pickled beets, I LOVE. Hope this gave you some great information.

dragonfly77 profile image

dragonfly77 5 years ago from Ontario

Hyphenbird I love beets, these are my "chocolate" I eat them as a treat to my day and eat them without any adornment which means no salt, no pickling, just the crunchy delicious beet itself. Thank you for taking the time to introduce beets to others who may not have recognized the truly healthful properties of this wonderful vegetable. Great Hub today.

5 years ago

great info on the you know where there's any organic in this county Hyph.

Hyphenbird profile image

Hyphenbird 5 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful Author

dragonfly, I am glad to find another beet lover. So cool. I am also thrilled to find more and more health benefits from foods, especially foods that are not simple, not processed or "popular". Thanks for reading and the great comment!

Hyphenbird profile image

Hyphenbird 5 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful Author

a, what county are you in?

Dave Mathews profile image

Dave Mathews 5 years ago from NORTH YORK,ONTARIO,CANADA

Beets are one of my favorite veggies to eat whether sauted, in a little butter or pickled in vinegar. They are a great source of what the body needs in so many ways.

always exploring profile image

always exploring 5 years ago from Southern Illinois

I've always loved pickled beets. Nice to hear of their origin. Thank you.

Hyphenbird profile image

Hyphenbird 5 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful Author

Thanks for stopping by Dave. You have whetted my appetite for beets so I am off to make dinner!

Hyphenbird profile image

Hyphenbird 5 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful Author

My pleasure always exploring. I love beets and wanted to share with others, especially the health benefits. Appreciate you stopping to read and comment.

Teylina profile image

Teylina 5 years ago

About time somebody wrote about this awesome veggie! Have always loved them. Occasionally, literally crave them, which means I'm missing something for some reason!

Hyphenbird profile image

Hyphenbird 5 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful Author

I know Teylina. The other day, I had a beet craving and zoomed like lightening into the natural food store for some organic beets. Yum, yum. My eight year old loves them too!

Naj 4 years ago

Does it have benefit for dissolving gallstones?

Hyphenbird profile image

Hyphenbird 4 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful Author

Hello Naj. One cup of raw beets contains 7.8% magnesium which has been shown as beneficial in preventing gallstones. I have not seen any research showing they dissolve them though. Check with the local health food store and doctor. He or she may be able to help you in that. Thanks for coming by.

Jen Card profile image

Jen Card 3 years ago

Thank you so much for this information! I look forward to trying one of the recipes you have linked. I am having a craving for beets! I love it! Thank you again

Hyphenbird profile image

Hyphenbird 3 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful Author

Hi Jen. I am so glad you found this article. Beets are so great for us and most people do not even know. They are an underutilized food source. I might add one of my own recipes on here. Thanks for your visit and comments. I appreciate that very much.

cecelia 3 years ago

I didn't know beets were so nutrional. I've always loved beets. I started reading on beets to try and loose weight.

Hyphenbird profile image

Hyphenbird 3 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful Author

Hello cecelia. Beets are wonderful for health and weight maintenance. Let us know how you progress. I am so pleased you found this article and it is helpful. My family loves beets. Search the Web for great recipes. Just remember the more natural our food, the healthier it is.

gerimcclym profile image

gerimcclym 9 months ago from Colorado

I have loved beets since I can remember but (I'm rather embarrassed to confess) had no clue they had so much nutritional value. It is good to know that even the green leaves on them are nutritious. Looking forward to trying some of the recipes you shared in the links, especially the chocolate beet brownies. I would have never put chocolate and beets together, but I will trust your recommendation and try it.

Hyphenbird profile image

Hyphenbird 9 months ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful Author

Thank you gerimcclym. Beets are a truly great source of nutrients. I have always loved them. I found a beet jam recipe. I will try to get that added on here soon.

ALRebel 2 weeks ago

Loved the article as much as I love beets. I can eat a whole can of beets in one sitting. My Grndmother, who was of Pennsylvania Dutch heritage introduced me to beets when I was young and I have loved them ever since. My husband and son say they taste like dirt. That just means more for me!

Hyphenbird profile image

Hyphenbird 2 weeks ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful Author

AlRebel, we love beets even more now. I have a recipe for beet relish that is addictive. I agree with you. The more for me when people pass on beets. thanks for stopping by.

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