You can peel, slice and eat beets raw, but roasting brings out their natural sweetness, according to the University of Illinois Extension. Typically enjoyed as a side dish or added to salads, you can also use them as a secret ingredient to sweeten chocolate cake. No matter how you eat them, beets contribute fiber, minerals and vitamins to your diet.
Beets vary in color, from pink to orange and yellow, but those most often found in the grocery store are dark maroon. Beets that are larger than 3 inches are overgrown and will likely be too tough. You can eat the greens, but should separate them from the root bulb because they pull moisture and flavor away from the beet.
One medium beet has 35 calories, 1.3 grams of protein and 0.14 grams of total fat, which includes 0.02 grams of saturated fat and no cholesterol. It also has 2.3 grams of dietary fiber, which is 6 percent of the recommended daily fiber intake for men and 9 percent for women.
Eating one medium-sized beet provides 4 milligrams of vitamin C, which means you’ll get 4 to 5 percent of the recommended daily intake for this powerful antioxidant. Beets are also a good source of folate, providing 89 micrograms, or 22 percent of the recommended daily intake. Folate is essential for new cell development and helps prevent birth defects. You'll also gain 0.05 milligrams of vitamin B-6. Folate and vitamin B-6 may help lower your risk of cardiovascular disease by reducing levels of homocysteine in the blood.
You’ll get almost all the essential dietary minerals in one medium-sized beet. It has three minerals needed to build and maintain strong bones: 13 milligrams of calcium, 19 milligrams of magnesium and 33 milligrams of phosphorus. One beet has 266 milligrams of potassium and 0.06 milligrams of copper. Potassium also helps regulate muscle contraction including your heartbeat, while copper helps your body absorb iron from food and make red blood cells.
If you've had calcium oxalate kidney stones, your doctor may recommend that you limit foods containing a lot of oxalate, such as beets. With 50 grams in one-fourth cup, beets are considered very high in oxalate, according to the Oxalosis and Hyperoxaluria Foundation.
- USDA Nutrient Database; Search; Beets, Raw; NDB No. 11080
- Institute of Medicine: Dietary Reference Intakes
- University of Illinois Extension: Beet
- The Oxalosis and Hyperoxaluria Foundation; The Oxalate Content of Food; Helen O’Connor, MD, RD
- Harvard Health Publications: Listing of Vitamins
- Harvard Health Publications: B Vitamins and Homocysteine
- Linus Pauling Institute; Folic Acid; Victoria Drake, Ph.D.; Sept. 2007
- Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images
This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.