Beets, both cooked and raw, are low in fat, high in fiber and rich in antioxidants that help combat free radicals in your body. Varieties of the root vegetable may be few, but the methods of preparing them are endless — juiced, sliced, shredded, you name it. Whichever way you choose to prepare them, beets provide a host of health benefits.
Common Beet Varieties
Beets are commonly found in red hues, but there are many other varieties to explore. Chioggia beets, for example, are an Italian heirloom variety with red-and-white stripes, which make a gorgeous addition to tossed salads. Golden beets, like their name indicates, have a buttery yellow color. The Cylindra, a variety of beet that is grown in a cylindrical shape, is perfect for slicing in equal sizes.
The University of Illinois Extension lists some beet varieties in its "Watch Your Garden Grow: Beet" topic page:
Garden -- Crosby's Egyptian, Detroit Dark Red, Early Wonder, Lutz Green Leaf, Ruby Queen, Sangria, Sweetheart
Garden (hybrid) – Avenger, Big Red, Gladiator, Pacemaker, Red Ace, Warrior
Mini -- Little Ball, Little Mini Ball
Specialty – Cylindra, di Chioggia, Golden, Green Top Bunching
Nutritional Composition of Beets
Low in fat, beets are healthy for your heart. Consuming 500 ml of beetroot juice a day, for example, is known to significantly reduce high blood pressure for over 24 hours after drinking, according to research developed at Barts’ Hospital in London and the London School of Medicine.
Consuming beet has also been tied to increasing muscle power. A 2015 study published by the American Heart Association concluded that people with heart failure who intake beet juice after working out observe a marked improvement in force and velocity.
Beet roots are a good source of vitamin C, while the tops are rich in vitamin A, according to the University of Illinois Extension. Folate in beets, along with folic acid, help prevent neural-tube birth defects and fight heart disease and anemia.
Beets are also high in fiber: soluble fiber aids in blood sugar and cholesterol management, while insoluble fiber helps with intestinal health, according to the "Watch Your Garden Grow: Beet" page.
Read more: What Are the Side Effects of Eating Beets?
Raw Beet Recipes
To prepare raw beets for eating, scrub and grate them or slice them as thinly as possible. The greens are also quite nutritious, so if you usually toss them, consider incorporating them into your meal instead.
One way to eat beets raw is by combining them into a smoothie with antioxidant-rich complements such as raspberries and strawberries, taking care to include the greens to add more bang for your beet. You can also juice raw beets and drink the juice by itself or in conjunction with other usual suspects such as apples and oranges.
If you’re feeling fancy, you can slice them into thin rounds and build raw tea sandwiches for a lunch party. Or grating beets is another surefire way to easily incorporate them raw into your diet to top salads or, for example, in combination with apples and ginger to create a raw beet slaw that you can add to any dish or eat by itself.
Read more: Beet Recipes