The World's Healthiest Foods

The Latest News About Beets

Remember all those legendary Russian centenarians? Beets, frequently consumed either pickled or in borscht, the traditional Russian soup, may be one reason behind their long and healthy lives. These colorful root vegetables contain powerful nutrient compounds that help protect against heart disease, birth defects and certain cancers, especially colon cancer.

What's New and Beneficial About Beets

WHFoods Recommendations

Foods belonging to the chenopod family-including beets, chard, spinach and quinoa-continue to show an increasing number of health benefits not readily available from other food families. The red and yellow betalain pigments found in this food family, their unique epoxyxanthophyll carotenoids, and the special connection between their overall phytonutrients and our nervous system health (including our specialized nervous system organs like the eye) point to the chenopod family of foods as unique in their health value. While we have yet to see large-scale human studies that point to a recommended minimum intake level for foods from this botanical family, we have seen data on chenopod phytonutrients, and based on this data, we recommend that you include foods from the chenopod family in your diet 1-2 times per week. In the case of a root food like beetroot, we recommend a serving size of at least ½ whole medium beet, and even more beneficial, at least 1 whole medium beet so that you can also benefit from their nutrient-rich greens.

If long cooking times deter you from cooking beets, our Healthiest Way of Cooking beets will help you prepare them in just 15 minutes. Cut medium beets into quarters without removing the skin. Steam and serve as a great vegetable side dish or as a wonderful addition to your favorite salad. It is often difficult to believe how the hardy, crunchy, often rough-looking exterior of raw beets can be transformed into something wonderfully soft and buttery once they are cooked. For an easy recipe, see our 15-Minute Beets.

Health Benefits

Beets provide numerous health benefits including:

For more details on beet's health benefits, see this section of our Beets write-up.

Nutritional Profile

Beets are unique in their rich combination of betalain pigments. Both betacyanins (red-violet pigments) and betaxanthins (yellow pigments) can be found in beets. Betanin and vulgaxanthin are betalains that have gotten special attention in beet research.

Beets are also an excellent source of hearth-healthy folate and a very good source of the antioxidant manganese and heart-healthy potassium. Beets are a good source of digestive-supportive dietary fiber, free radical scavenging vitamin C and copper, bone-healthy magnesium, and energy-producing iron and phosphorus.

For more on this nutrient-rich vegetable, including references related to this Latest News, see our write-up on Beets.