Beets are incredibly nutritious, versatile, and long-lasting vegetables. With a bit of care to selecting, storing, and cooking them, you can convert even the harshest beet critic into a fan.
Beets, a root vegetable known for their vibrant color, pack a surprising amount of nutrients. They’re naturally sweet and have long been used for both savory and sweet cooking.
So, whether you’re already a beet lover or just looking to try something new and delicious, we’re covering the basics:
- How to select the best beets
- How to store beets for optimal freshness
- All of the nutritional and health benefits beets offer
- Some of our favorite recipes featuring beets–both savory and sweet
How to Select the Best Beets
When it comes to choosing beets for freshness, flavor and nutrition, there are a few important qualities to look for.
First, what kind of beets are you looking for? This sweet root veggie goes way beyond dark red.
In fact, beets come in a surprising variety of colors. Sure, there are the most familiar red beets. But you can also find sweet and bright yellow or golden beets. You can even find pure white beets and others that have white and pink stripes, called candy-stripes.
Whichever color you choose, look for beets that are firm, without any soft spots. The skin should be taut and free of wrinkles. If the beet greens are attached, they should be vibrant, shiny, and deep green.
Cooking tip: Opt for a bunch of beets of equal sizes. Similar-sized food cooks at the same time.
How to Store Beets for Optimal Freshness
Beets contain natural sugars. This enables them to overwinter or stay in the ground through the cold months. A high sugar concentration prevents beets from freezing with the earth.
This means that beets have a pretty high cold tolerance. They will last the longest in the crisper drawer of the fridge. Avoid cutting the beets until just before cooking, though you should remove beet greens as soon as you bring them home. Keeping greens attached can cause the root ends to dry out, as the plants will direct water to the leaves, rather than the root-end.
Nutritional Benefits of Beets
So now that you know how to select and store beets for maximum freshness and flavor, let’s discuss the many health reasons to eat more of them!
First, beets impressively contain nearly every nutrient the human body needs. That includes vitamins B6 and C, folate, magnesium, potassium, phosphorous, manganese, and iron.
Beets are also a major source of dietary fiber. Eating a high-fiber diet is shown to improve digestion, feelings of fullness, and a reduced risk for chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes and colon cancer.
Why are Nitrates Healthy?
Beet’s roster of nutrients is certainly impressive. But these vegetables are also packed with nitrates, plant compounds that offer even greater health implications.
Studies link nitrates to lower blood pressure, which is a leading risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Your body turns nitrates into nitric oxide, a compound that causes blood vessels to dilate and allow for greater blood flow throughout the body. This phenomenon is shown to improve athletic performance, muscle recovery, memory, and overall oxygen efficiency.
In fact, some athletes have incorporated beetroot powders into their nutritional supplement routine. But at the end of the day, going directly to the source and filling your diet with whole foods is the best, most natural way to access food benefits.
Are Beets Good for Weight-loss?
In general, replacing processed products with whole foods, especially plants, can lead to weight loss. Beets, in particular, can be an important part of a diet for weight loss. All that fiber increases feelings of satiety, which means you feel fuller longer and avoid cravings.
Plus, beets have high water content. They’re a low-calorie food that fills you up, with just 59 calories per cup. Beets, with their natural sugars, can also hit your sweet craving so you won’t be as tempted by sugary treats.
Best Recipes with Beets
Now that you can’t wait to get more beets on your plate, let’s talk recipes. What is the best way to cook with beets? The truth is that beets are incredibly versatile vegetables. From sweet to savory, they work in a variety of dishes. Plus, they’re delicious roasted, steamed, boiled, raw–even smoked!
Here are some of our favorite recipes featuring beets: