Beets 101 – Everything You Need To Know

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Beets (Beta vulgaris) are root vegetables that tend to attract fiercely divided opinions. Some love them; others cannot stand them. But regardless of the camp you belong to, there’s more to beets than meets the eye, from a culinary and health perspective.

What are the benefits of beets? And what is the best way to store and prepare them? Meet the beet with Dani Spies, a health & weight loss coach and the founder of Clean&Delicious®. She shares the amazing properties of the divisive root vegetable, highlighting why it deserves a place on your plate.

Health Benefits of Beets

Beets are loaded in nutrients, offering a wealth of health benefits.

They boast of an impressive nutritional profile that packs nearly all essential minerals and vitamins your body needs. [1] Beets are particularly rich in manganese, folate, copper, and potassium. All this nutritional value comes with low fat and calorie content.

Here’s how adding beetroot to your menu can improve your health:

Beets May Improve Your Physical Performance

Looking to improve your endurance or athletic performance? Beetroot juice is a delicious and healthy nutritional supplementation to give you an edge.

Beets are rich in dietary nitrates that appear to improve athletic performance. According to a systematic review published in the journal Nutrients, drinking beet juice could boost cardiorespiratory performance, improve athletic efficiency, and increase the time it takes to feel exhausted. [2]

For best results, it is advisable to down your beet juice 2-3 hours before athletics for peak blood nitrate levels. [3]

Beets Are Heart-Healthy

Studies have shown that eating beets regularly may reduce your risk of heart disease by lowering blood pressure levels. [4]

This health benefit is linked to the high concentration of dietary nitrates in beets. [5] When converted to nitric oxide, nitrates help dilate blood vessels and reduce elevated blood pressure.

Beets Have Anti-Inflammatory Properties

Beets may play an important role in helping fight inflammation. Betalains in beets (which are phytonutrients that give them their rich pigment) have been shown to have potent anti-inflammatory properties. [6]

One study in the Journal of Human Hypertension found that drinking 8.5 ounces of beet juice daily reduced markers of inflammation in hypertensive subjects within a 2-week period. [7] And although there is a need for further research in humans, an animal study published in the Mediators of Inflammation journal demonstrated that beet juice reduced kidney inflammation [8].

Beets May Support Brain Health

Nitrates in beets are believed to increase blood flow to the brain, potentially leading to improvements in memory and decision-making [9]. One study reported a 4% increase in cognitive function among subjects who drank 8.5 ounces of beet juice for 2 weeks compared to those who did not. [10]

Beets are Good for Your Gut

Beets are a great source of dietary fiber—around 3.4 grams in a cup. [1] Fiber plays an essential role in digestive health by feeding friendly gut bacteria [11], protecting against gastrointestinal diseases, and helping with constipation. [12]

Beet Selection and Storage

Beets are not only nutritious but are also a culinarian’s dream. They are easy to work with, and their health-promoting properties make them a great addition to a balanced diet.

If you’re looking to savor their earthy flavor, add a pop of color to your plate, or tap into their health benefits, here are some pointers by Dani Spies to ensure to get the best out of beets:

• Red bulbous beets may be the most popular, but there are more varieties of the root vegetable—from striking candy cane beets to the more subtle golden and white beets.

• You can find beets any time of the year, but Dani recommends you snap them up at their peak season –typically around Autumn. At this time, they taste better, have more nutrients, and tend to be cheaper.

• For size, small to medium beets seem to be preferred. Bigger beets tend to lose their flavor.

• Beetroot leaves can be a telltale sign of their freshness. So look for beets that have their leaves attached. Plus, they’re edible. “If you can’t find beetroots with the leaves still attached, just make sure the tail is still intact and the root smooth and rich in color,” Dani advises.

• Proper storage is key to preserving the freshness of beets. If the greens are attached, cut them partially, leaving about 1 inch on the bulb. Store the bulb and the leaves separately in plastic bags and toss them in the refrigerator. This will give you at least 2 weeks of fresh beets to work with.

Preparing And Cooking Beets

It’s hard to beat the vibrancy and versatility of beets in the kitchen. They’re great raw, pickled, roasted, steamed, or even juiced. But beware, red beets are messy to prepare! They have the ability to stain nearly everything they come into contact with. But Dani has a workaround for that. “I highly recommend that you peel your beets after they’re cooked because it is a lot easier and a lot less messy.” She also suggests you use a cutting board you’re willing to sacrifice.

When it comes to cooking beets, there are tons of recipes you can experiment with. Dani’s personal favorite way of cooking beets is steaming the bulb whole until fork-tender, peeling them, chopping them, and tossing them with “2 teaspoons of your favorite vinegar, 1 teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil, some salt, and pepper.” Store this in the fridge and just beet it when the urge for a delicious and nutritious meal crosses your mind.

Topic: Beets 101 – Everything You Need to Know
Who? Dani Spies (from Clean & Delicious)


[1] USDA FoodData Central:

[2] Domínguez, R., Cuenca, E., Maté-Muñoz, J. L., García-Fernández, P., Serra-Paya, N., Estevan, M. C. L., … & Garnacho-Castaño, M. V. (2017). Effects of beetroot juice supplementation on cardiorespiratory endurance in athletes. A systematic review. Nutrients, 9(1), 43.

[3] Senefeld, J. W., Wiggins, C. C., Regimbal, R. J., Dominelli, P. B., Baker, S. E., & Joyner, M. J. (2020). Ergogenic effect of nitrate supplementation: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Medicine and science in sports and exercise, 52(10), 2250.

[4] Jajja, A., Sutyarjoko, A., Lara, J., Rennie, K., Brandt, K., Qadir, O., & Siervo, M. (2014). Beetroot supplementation lowers daily systolic blood pressure in older, overweight subjects. Nutrition research, 34(10), 868-875.

[5] Bonilla Ocampo, D. A., Paipilla, A. F., Marín, E., Vargas-Molina, S., Petro, J. L., & Pérez-Idárraga, A. (2018). Dietary nitrate from beetroot juice for hypertension: a systematic review. Biomolecules, 8(4), 134.

[6] Clifford, T., Howatson, G., West, D. J., & Stevenson, E. J. (2015). The potential benefits of red beetroot supplementation in health and disease. Nutrients, 7(4), 2801-2822.

[7] Asgary, S., Afshani, M. R., Sahebkar, A., Keshvari, M., Taheri, M., Jahanian, E., … & Sarrafzadegan, N. (2016). Improvement of hypertension, endothelial function and systemic inflammation following short-term supplementation with red beet (Beta vulgaris L.) juice: a randomized crossover pilot study. Journal of human hypertension, 30(10), 627-632.

[8] El Gamal, A. A., AlSaid, M. S., Raish, M., Al-Sohaibani, M., Al-Massarani, S. M., Ahmad, A., … & Rafatullah, S. (2014). Beetroot (Beta vulgaris L.) extract ameliorates gentamicin-induced nephrotoxicity associated oxidative stress, inflammation, and apoptosis in rodent model. Mediators of inflammation, 2014.

[9] Petrie, M., Rejeski, W. J., Basu, S., Laurienti, P. J., Marsh, A. P., Norris, J. L., … & Burdette, J. H. (2017). Beet root juice: an ergogenic aid for exercise and the aging brain. Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biomedical Sciences and Medical Sciences, 72(9), 1284-1289.

[10] Gilchrist, M., Winyard, P. G., Fulford, J., Anning, C., Shore, A. C., & Benjamin, N. (2014). Dietary nitrate supplementation improves reaction time in type 2 diabetes: development and application of a novel nitrate-depleted beetroot juice placebo. Nitric Oxide, 40, 67-74.

[11] Myhrstad, M. C., Tunsjø, H., Charnock, C., & Telle-Hansen, V. H. (2020). Dietary fiber, gut microbiota, and metabolic regulation—Current status in human randomized trials. Nutrients, 12(3), 859.

[12] Ötles, S., & Ozgoz, S. (2014). Health effects of dietary fiber. Acta scientiarum polonorum Technologia alimentaria, 13(2), 191-202.

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