Buy only small or medium size beets. Large beets are usually not very tender.
Do not purchase beets if they look shriveled or flabby. Beets should be firm.
Beets are high in vitamins and minerals. Nutritionally fresh raw beets will always be superior to canned or even fresh cooked beets. Speaking of beet nutrition, here are some of the facts: they are high in folic acid, potassium, calcium and antioxidants (betacyanin, which is what gives beets their rich red color.).
Leafy beet greens are also very nutritious and can be used for juicing, or cooking as you would any other green. In fact the beet tops are more nutritious than the roots. The greens contain significantly more iron, vitamin A, potassium and calcium than the roots.
Beet Food Facts
- Beets are a unique source of phytonutrients called betalains.
- Many of the unique phytonutrients present in beets have been shown to function as anti-inflammatory compounds.
- In a recent study from Italy, beets were shown to be an especially important contributor of two carotenoids in the overall diet: lutein and zeaxanthin.
- An estimated 10 to 15 percent of all U.S. adults experience beeturia (a reddening of the urine) after consumption of beets in everyday amounts.
- Beets should be used immediately and beet roots within five to seven days.
- Beets should be cooked whole to retain their red color.
- Beets contain a chemical pigment called betacyanin which gives the beets their reddish color. Some people cannot metabolize this pigment and it may turn their feces and urine a red color for a few days after ingestion.
- Beets' sweet taste reflects their high sugar content, which makes beets an important source for the production of refined sugar (yet, the beets that are used for sugar consumption are of a different type than the beets that you purchase in the store).
- Sugar beets are approximately 20 percent sucrose by weight, twice the sugar content of standard beets. Approximately 100 pounds of sugar beets are needed to produce five pounds of sugar.
- Fresh beet greens are one of the first vegetables in Maine markets from the summer harvest.
- Beet fiber is a specific type of food fiber that may provide special health benefits, particularly with respect to health of our digestive tract (including prevention of colon cancer) and our cardiovascular system.
- The greens attached to the beet roots are delicious and can be prepared like spinach or Swiss chard.
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