The deep purple of beets and the rich colors of beet greens mirrors the nutritional richness of these vegetables. You can eat beets raw, roasted or boiled, but don't throw those tops away. You can boil and serve the greens. You also can eat canned beets if fresh beets are not in season. Beets contain numerous nutrients and vitamins that deliver multiple health benefits.
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Beets are high in folate. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, or USDA, folate helps the body form red blood cells. If you are pregnant you should consume adequate amounts of folate, which can reduce risk of neural tube defects, spina bifida and anencephaly during fetal development.
Manganese is a natural trace element found in beets that plays an important role in growth and good health, according to the Ohio Bureau of Environmental Health. People who live near coal or oil-burning factories may be exposed to too much manganese, which can be harmful at very high levels.
Beets are a rich source of potassium. According to the National Institutes of Health, potassium is a mineral involved in electrical and cellular body functions, including building muscle, normal body growth and normal electrical activity of the heart. A lack of adequate potassium can lead to salt sensitivity and high blood pressure. You should consume 4.7 grams of potassium per day. According to the NIH, medications including diuretics, steroids and laxatives can decrease your potassium levels, which can have serious health consequences.
You can get beta-carotene from eating fresh or cooked beet greens. According to the NIH Office of Dietary Supplements, beta-carotene is a form of Vitamin A found in colorful fruits and vegetables. The Office of Dietary Supplements notes that “some provitamin A carotenoids have been shown to function as antioxidants in laboratory studies,” adding that this function has not been consistently demonstrated in humans. According to the Office of Dietary Supplements, “antioxidants protect cells from free radicals, which are potentially damaging byproducts of oxygen metabolism that may contribute to the development of some chronic diseases.”
Beet greens are also a source of iron, which is involved in oxygen transport and essential for regulating cell growth and differentiation, according to the Office of Dietary Supplements. If you don’t have enough iron, the delivery of oxygen to your cells can be limited, resulting in fatigue, poor work performance and decreased immunity. The Food and Drug Administration recommends getting 18 grams of iron per day.