Beets: Important Facts, Health Benefits, and Recipes

Explore the health benefits, history, and culinary uses of beets in our ultimate guide, and learn how to incorporate this vibrant powerhouse into your diet.

What Are Beets?

Beets, also known as beetroot, are a root vegetable with a rich, earthy flavor and a striking red or purple color. They originated in the Mediterranean region and have been cultivated for thousands of years for their edible roots and leaves. Beets can be enjoyed raw, cooked, or pickled and are used in a variety of dishes, including salads, soups, and even desserts.

Are Beets Healthy?

Beets are absolutely healthy! Beets are packed with essential nutrients, such as fiber, potassium, iron, and vitamin C. They are low in calories and have numerous health benefits, making them a fantastic addition to a balanced diet.

8 Health Benefits of Beets

  • Supports heart health: Beets contain nitrates, which can help lower blood pressure and improve overall heart health.
  • Boosts athletic performance: The nitrates in beets can enhance oxygen delivery to muscles, potentially improving exercise performance.
  • Supports brain health: Beets may improve cognitive function and reduce the risk of dementia, thanks to their nitrate content. However, the improvement in cognitive function is not significant with incremental doses of nitrate-rich beetroot juice.
  • Fights inflammation: Beets are rich in antioxidants, which can help reduce inflammation and protect against chronic diseases.
  • Supports digestion: The high fiber content in beets can promote regularity and maintain a healthy digestive system.
  • Promotes liver health: Beets contain betaine, a compound that supports liver detoxification and helps protect against liver damage.
  • Enhances skin health: The vitamin C in beets can support collagen production, leading to healthier and more radiant skin.
  • May help with weight management: Beets are low in calories and high in fiber, making them a satisfying and nutritious option for those trying to maintain a healthy weight.

History and Background of Beets

Beets have been cultivated for thousands of years, with evidence of their use dating back to ancient Egyptian, Greek, and Roman civilizations. They were initially grown for their leaves, but their roots eventually gained popularity as a food source. Beets were also used for medicinal purposes and as a natural dye.

What is the Best Way to Store Beets?

To preserve the freshness and quality of beets, store them in a cool, dark place, such as a refrigerator or a cellar. Remove the leaves before storing, as they can draw moisture from the roots. Beets can be stored in a plastic bag with small air holes to maintain humidity and prevent them from drying out.

What are the Different Types of Beets?

There are several varieties of beets, including red, golden, and candy-striped (Chioggia) beets. Each type has its unique flavor and color, but they all share similar nutritional benefits.

What is the Best Substitute for Beets if I Don't Have Any?

If you don't have beets on hand, you can substitute them with other root vegetables, such as carrots, parsnips, or sweet potatoes. While the flavor and color may differ, these alternatives can still provide a similar texture and nutritional profile.

What Cuisines Use Beets?

Beets are used in various cuisines, including Eastern European (e.g., borscht), Scandinavian, and Mediterranean dishes. They are also popular in Middle Eastern cuisine, where they are often pickled or used in salads.

Why Are Beets Good For You?

Beets are good for you because they are packed with essential nutrients, antioxidants, and fiber. They offer numerous health benefits, such as supporting heart health, improving athletic performance, and promoting liver and skin health.

How Are Beets Grown?

Beets are typically grown from seeds planted in well-draining soil with plenty of sunlight. They can be grown in both cool and warm climates, making them a versatile crop for many regions. Beets are a root vegetable, similar to a carrot.

What are Beets Good For?

Beets are good for a variety of purposes, including culinary, medicinal, and even cosmetic uses. They can be incorporated into a wide range of dishes and provide numerous health benefits, making them a valuable addition to any diet.

Why Do Beets Taste Like Dirt?

The perception that beets taste like dirt is subjective and can vary among individuals. However, there are a few reasons why some people may describe the flavor of beets as earthy or reminiscent of soil. One key reason is geosmin.  Beets contain a compound called geosmin, which is also found in soil and gives it that distinct earthy smell. Geosmin is responsible for the earthy flavor in some root vegetables, including beets. Some individuals may be more sensitive to this compound and perceive it as a "dirt-like" taste.

Best Beets Recipes