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Vegetable of the Month: Beets

The farmers’ market stalls overflow with healthful fruits and vegetables this time of year: sweet crunchy apples, mellow pears, creamy butternut squash and sweet potatoes. You’ll also find deep red, golden, or even red-and-white striped beets there. If your only experience with beets is out of a can or in borsch, maybe it’s time to get creative with beets.

Beets, like spinach, are high in nitrates, which are linked to increased strength and fitness. This is why athletes often drink beet juice. In fact, a recent double-blind study suggested that when consumed during athletic training, nitrates are linked to changes in muscle fibers that are beneficial to performance.[i],[ii] Nitrates are converted to nitric oxide in the body, which is probably why beet juice consumption has also been linked to healthy blood pressure in two studies.[iii],[iv] And they’re nutritious, one of the many reasons they’re in Juice Plus+!

A one-cup serving of beets provides:

  • 34% of the Daily Value (DV) of folate, a B vitamin that supports heart health and healthy aging
  • 28% of the DV for manganese, a mineral that plays a role in bone, joint, and skin health
  • 14% of the DV for potassium, an electrolyte that maintains fluid balance in cells and is critical to a healthy heart
  • 10% of the DV for vitamin C, which aids immune function and is needed for the health of connective tissue
  • 10% of the DV for magnesium, a mineral that helps regulate blood pressure and supports bone health
  • A one-cup serving is only 75 calories and provides 3.4 grams fiber, which is necessary for normal digestion and elimination and reduces the risk of heart disease

One of the most popular way to serve beets is to roast them. Beets work well with a mix of sweet potatoes, carrots and onions. Chop the vegetables in any combination you’d like, dress with olive oil, salt and rosemary, and roast at 300 degrees for 1 hour and 45 minutes. Serve as a side dish or alongside a green salad and goat cheese on crusty, toasted bread, and you have a perfect meal for a chilly autumn night!

You can also eat beets raw; they’re great shredded on a salad. Pickled beets also have a wonderful, but sour taste to them. This is actually my favorite way to eat them.

Lastly, don’t forget the beet greens. Just sauté in a little olive oil with onion and garlic for a tasty and healthful side dish! They cook down quite a bit, so you’ll need a big bunch.

Are you a fan of beets? What’s your favorite way to eat them? Share in the comments below!

[i] Chu, W. Popeye was right: Could nitrate-rich spinach enhance strength and fitness? Nutraingredients. 2016 Oct 14.

[ii] De Smet S, et al. Nitrate intake promotes shift in muscle fiver type composition during spring interval training in hypoxia. Front Physiol. 2016 Jun 14;7:233.

[iii] Kapil V, et al. Dietary nitrate provides sustained blood pressure lowering in hypertensive patients: a randomized, phase 2, double-blind, placebo controlled study. Hypertension. 2015 Feb;65(2):320-7.

[iv] Kapil V, et al. Clinical evidence demonstrating the utility of inorganic nitrate in cardiovascular health. Nitric Oxide. 2014 Apr 30;38:45-57.

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