The Health Benefits of Beets
It’s American Heart Month—what a perfect time to embrace beets! Of all the vegetables out there, beets are hard to, well, beat when it comes to heart health. Their red or yellow color comes from betalain, an antioxidant that can help prevent cardiovascular diseases. And they’re high in nitrates, which research shows can help lower blood pressure. Compared to other veggies, beets are one of the sweetest, but can taste a little earthy, too, which makes sense since as a root vegetable, they grow from the ground up. The best part? You get all that flavor and all those nutrients for just 58 calories per cup.
How Do You Prepare Beets?
Also called beetroot, beets are incredibly versatile. While you’ll often see roasted beets on restaurant menus, you can eat the veggie raw. The best way to do so: Simply peel, slice, and season with a squeeze of citrus or a sprinkle of salt and pepper. (When you’re peeling, wear gloves or use a paper towel to hold the beets, as they can stain.) Steaming, roasting, or pickling beets takes a little more time but is worth the investment. You can also puree roasted beets into cakes and muffins. Just don’t throw away the greens. They’re delicious when sautéed with olive oil and garlic, or cooked and pureed into a pesto.
What Can You Do with Beets?
Beets make a great side or unexpected recipe ingredient. Give these methods a try.
Roasted Beets: Roasting brings out the natural sugars in beets. Preheat the oven to 400° F (205° C). Cut off the leafy tops, and thoroughly scrub the beets. Coat lightly with olive oil, wrap loosely in aluminum foil, and place on a baking sheet. Roast for 50 to 60 minutes, until tender. Once the beets have cooled, gently rub away the skin under cold water. Eat the roasted beets as is, slice and add to a grain bowl, or puree into a soup.
Steamed Beets: This is a faster way to cook beets that also retains all of the nutrients you’d lose by boiling. Peel the beets and cut them into half-inch pieces. Place the pieces in a steamer basket, and place that basket over a saucepan with 2 inches of simmering water. Cover and steam until beets are tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Steamed beets can be used the same way as roasted ones.
Pickled Beets: Here’s a way to get a unique flavor from beets. Remove the skin from 6 medium, roasted beets, and thinly slice. Place the slices in 1-quart mason jars. Bring 1 cup vinegar, 1 cup water, 1 ½ teaspoons Kosher salt, and ½ cup sugar to a boil. Pour the mixture over the beet slices, and tightly seal the jars. Refrigerate for three to seven days, then serve. Dice the beets and add to a green or pasta salad, or layer a few slices onto a sandwich.
More Beet Recipes
Hungry for more? Beets can be incorporated into smoothies, hummus, and more!
This article is not intended to substitute for informed medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet, altering your sleep habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.