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by Sarah Schlichter, MPH, RDN

Beets, formally known as beetroots, are a root vegetable, packed with several nutrients. Beets are believed to have originated from a prehistoric North African root vegetable.

Common Varieties

Beets are commonly a dark red color, but white, gold and yellow varieties are also available. Some of the common varieties include Detroit Dark Red, Early Wonder, Sangria and Sweetheart. There are even specialty beets that have been hybridized, like the acclaimed Chioggas, also known as candy cane striped beets.

Many describe the flavor profile of beets as “earthy,” though when roasted and caramelized, their taste becomes sweeter and subtler. Flavors can range from candy-sweet to bitter, depending on the type of beet and how long it is grown for.

You can buy beets fresh or canned, with both providing the same nutritional value. Canned beets offer a more affordable and shelf-stable option, and also reduce prep time since peeling and cutting beets would no longer be necessary.

If you do happen to suffer from beet staining, it is recommended to run the stain under cold water, without rubbing, to prevent any spreading. Blot with a clean white paper towel to absorb the liquid. Then, treat with a stain remover or heavy-duty detergent and rinse again in cold water.

beets benefits

What About Their Nutrition Profile?

Beets are high in the B-Vitamin, folate, as well as manganese and potassium, while also offering small amounts of vitamin C, iron, magnesium and calcium.  The beet roots and greens are also high in many nutrients as well. Beets also contain many nitrates and antioxidant plant compounds, called betalains, which gives them their bright red, purple hue.

Beets are also known for their dietary nitrate content. Dietary nitrate is converted to nitric oxide, which is believed to help enhance athletic performance through improved efficiency of oxygen use. It is suggested to consume beets a few hours before training or competing, as blood nitrate levels peak within 2-3 hours.

RELATED: The Perfect Beetroot Pancakes Recipe Does Exist

Different Ways to Cook with Beets

Perhaps you, like many others, have steered away from beets, feeling confused about how to cook with them and use them in recipes. Beets can be consumed in their raw form (in juices), or can be steamed, boiled, roasted or sautéed.

beet juice

How to Add Beets to Your Favorite Recipes

Salads – Beets pair well with creamy cheese, like goat cheese. Add them to your salad or grate them up into coleslaw.

Hummus & Dips – Beets can be puréed and blended into different dips and appetizers and can even be blended into soups.

Baked Goods – Adding beets to baked goods can greatly enhance the nutrient content of a recipe.

Roasting – Roasted beets can be simple and flavorful. Just season with salt and pepper and roast them at 375-400°F for 30-35 minutes. To make beet chips, cut them thinly with a mandolin and roast at a high temperature.

Pickling – Pickled beets are great in salads or served on their own.

Juice – Combine with other fruits and vegetables in a homemade juice.

Tell us: How will you be adding beets to your diet this coming year?

**These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.