Beets are a root vegetable known for their deep red color and earthy, sweet flavor. Beets have long been a fall and winter favorite since they are readily available during the colder seasons and they lend a pop of color and delicious flavor to many different meals. They are very versatile and can be prepared in endless different ways, from raw in salads, to roasted and served as a side dish, to cooked and puréed into soup. This vegetable is also a nutritional powerhouse with a host of health benefits.
The Health Benefits of Beets
Help Decrease Blood Pressure
Research shows that consuming beets can help lower blood pressure and promote cardiovascular health. 1 2 Raw beets are especially effective in doing this. 3 To enjoy beets raw, simply peel and grate them, then add your grated beet to salads, sandwiches, or wraps. You can also juice raw beets and drink the juice on its own or add it to your favorite fruit juice or smoothie.
Rich in Folate
One 100-gram serving of cooked beets contains 20% of your recommended daily folate intake. 4 Folate, also called vitamin B9, is a vitamin that is essential in growth and development, and also plays a role in heart health. 5 The body uses folate for DNA synthesis and repair, cell division, and protein synthesis. 6 Because of this, folate is particularly important for people who are pregnant because it helps fetal development and reduces the risk of health complications for both infant and parent. 7 8
Beets are an excellent source of dietary fiber, with 3.4 grams of fiber per 1 cup of cooked beets. 9 Fiber helps feed good bacteria in the gut, helping to promote a healthy microbiome and improve digestive health. 10 Those with digestive issues such as diverticulitis, IBD, and constipation may benefit from adding more beets to their diet. 11
Word of caution: eating a decent amount of beets can cause the stool to turn reddish. Some people may mistake this with blood in their stool. Please contact your doctor if stool changes persist and are not related to dietary changes.
Roasted Beet Hummus
Roasted beets add a deep flavor and velvety texture to this hummus. Serve this with raw veggies, pita, rice crackers, or as a spread on whole-grain toast for a hearty breakfast.
Recipe Courtesy of Bastyr University.
- 1 small roasted beet
- 15 oz canned chickpeas
- 2 lemons (should yield 1/3 cup of lemon juice)
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 tbsp tahini
- 1⁄4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1) To roast the beet: wash and drizzle with olive oil and salt, wrap in foil and place in the oven at 400 degrees for about an hour (until a fork easily slides in it). Wait for the beet to cool and peel off the skin. If skin does not come off easily, keep in the oven for 5-10 minutes longer.
2) Once your beet is cooled and peeled, quarter it and place it in a food processor or blender.
3) Add remaining ingredients and blend until smooth. *traditional methods of preparing hummus call for soaking and peeling the chickpeas, but this step can be skipped if you are short on time.
4) Taste and adjust seasonings as needed, adding more salt, lemon juice, or olive oil to your preference. If the hummus is too thick, add a bit of water until you reach your desired consistency.
5) Serve in a bowl and sprinkle with parsley, radishes, or pine nuts.
6) Pair it with carrots, cucumbers, or a light rice cracker as an appetizer.