Beets are a nutrient-dense superfood packed with an abundance of vitamins and minerals.
The sweet, earthy vegetable also known as beetroot comes in a variety of colors — red, purple, yellow, and gold — each offering a kick of nutrients.
Beets are a rich source of antioxidants, which can reduce inflammation, help lower your risk of heart disease and cancer, and even protect your cells from damage.
Not only are beets good for you, but they’re also tasty and easy to add to your diet. You can roast, steam, juice, and blend them. You can even eat them raw or buy them precooked and canned. The opportunities are endless.
Though eating beets raw is among the best ways to maximize their health benefits, gently steaming, roasting, and sautéing them are great cooking alternatives.
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Health Benefits of Beets
Here’s why beets are so beneficial and how to best incorporate them into your next meal.
Beets come loaded with fiber
A single cup of beets contains as much as 3.8 grams of fiber, which can help control blood sugar levels, maintain a healthy weight, lower your cholesterol, and assist with digestion.
Getting enough fiber in your diet (21 to 38 grams per day) can also support a healthy gut microbiome as well as reduce your risk for conditions like colon cancer, heart disease, inflammatory bowel disease, and type 2 diabetes.
They reduce inflammation
Beets have proven anti-inflammatory properties. Research has linked chronic inflammation in the body to several diseases, including high blood pressure, heart disease, asthma, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.
Including superfoods like beets in your diet can help reduce inflammation and may even relieve some joint pain.
They lower blood pressure
Beets are a great source of potassium, which can lower blood pressure and boost heart health.
The vegetable also contains naturally high levels of nitrates, which your body converts into nitric oxide to widen blood vessels and lower your blood pressure.
The foods highest in nitrates include beetroots and leafy greens such as kale, arugula, and spinach.
They can give your workout a boost
Swapping your sports drink for beet juice during exercise may increase your endurance and allow you to exercise for longer. That’s because the nitrates in beet juice increase blood flow, allowing more oxygen to get to your muscles.
Beets are also low in calories and high in nutrients, which means you can eat more of them to stay satisfied for longer.
May help fight cancer
Beets are high in antioxidants and may help prevent the development and growth of cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute.
Any diet rich in antioxidants may protect cells from oxidative stress, which can contribute to chronic disease and cancer.
Healthy Beet Recipes
Whether you’re a longtime beet enthusiast or new to the scene, these tasty beet-centric meals offer a burst of healthy flavor.
Warm beet and goat cheese salad
- 1 pound trimmed red beets
- 1 cup balsamic vinegar
- 2 cups arugula
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 ounces crumbled goat cheese
- 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
- Preheat oven to 400° F and place a large piece of foil on a baking sheet.
- Place beets in center of the foil, pour 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar, and fold sides of foil to enclose beets.
- Roast for 45 minutes until beets are tender and let cool for 30 minutes.
- Bring 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar to a boil in a saucepan over medium heat for about 10 minutes and remove from heat.
- When beets are cool, peel and slice them thinly.
- Arrange sliced beets (overlapping slightly) on a plate or platter.
- Toss arugula in olive oil and spread on top of beets.
- Sprinkle with goat cheese and walnuts and drizzle with warm balsamic vinegar.
- Serve warm!
Refreshing beet smoothie
- 1 diced raw beet
- 1 large apple
- 1 large banana
- 1 cup frozen pineapple
- 1/2 cup water
- 10 ice cubes
- Peel and dice the raw beet.
- Chop the apple and slice the banana into small pieces.
- Combine the beet, apple, banana, pineapple, water, and ice in a blender and blend until smooth.
- Drink immediately or store for later.
Baked beet fries
- 4 medium red or golden beets
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
- Preheat oven to 425° F.
- Peel the beets and cut into thick 1/2-inch strips.
- In a mixing bowl, combine beets with olive oil, salt, and pepper and evenly coat.
- When oven has preheated, spread beet strips onto baking sheet in a single layer and bake for 15 minutes.
- Toss the beets and bake for another 10 minutes or until crispy.
- Serve warm alongside preferred topping, condiment, or sauce.
About UPMC Nutrition Services
Nutrition is vital for maintaining your overall health. UPMC Nutrition Services offers comprehensive diet and nutrition counseling on a variety of topics, including eating disorders, weight management, and heart disease. Our team provides medical nutrition therapy for chronic conditions such as celiac disease, cancer, and diabetes. UPMC’s network of registered dietitians is available to help guide all patients toward a healthier life.