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Beetroots at a grocery store
Beetroots, cooked
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 180 kJ (43 kcal)
Carbohydrates 9.96 g
- Sugars 7.96 g
- Dietary fiber 2.0 g
Fat .18 g
Protein 1.68 g
Vitamin A equiv. 2 μg (0%)
Thiamine (vit. B1) .031 mg (3%)
Riboflavin (vit. B2) .027 mg (2%)
Niacin (vit. B3) .331 mg (2%)
Pantothenic acid (B5) .145 mg (3%)
Vitamin B6 .067 mg (5%)
Folate (vit. B9) 80 μg (20%)
Vitamin C 3.6 mg (4%)
Calcium 16 mg (2%)
Iron .79 mg (6%)
Magnesium 23 mg (6%)
Phosphorus 38 mg (5%)
Potassium 305 mg (6%)
Sodium 77 mg (5%)
Zinc .35 mg (4%)
Percentages are roughly approximated
using US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database
Beetroot on a plate

The beetroot, also known in North America as the table beet, garden beet, red or golden beet, or informally simply as the beet, is any of the cultivated varieties of beet (Beta vulgaris) grown for their edible taproots, especially B. vulgaris L. subsp. conditiva.[1] They are among the most commonly encountered varieties in North America, Central America, and Europe.


The usually deep red roots of beetroot are eaten either grilled, boiled, or roasted as a cooked vegetable, cold as a salad after cooking and adding oil and vinegar, or raw and shredded, either alone or combined with any salad vegetable. A large proportion of the commercial production is processed into boiled and sterilised beets or into pickles. In Eastern Europe, beet soup, such as borscht, is a popular dish. In Indian cuisine, chopped, cooked, spiced beet is a common side dish. Yellow-coloured beetroots are grown on a very small scale for home consumption.[2]

The green, leafy portion of the beet is also edible. It is most commonly served boiled or steamed, in which case it has a taste and texture similar to spinach. Those selected should be bulbs that are unmarked, avoiding those with overly limp leaves or wrinkled skins, both of which are signs of dehydration.

Beetroot can be peeled, steamed, and then eaten warm with butter as a delicacy; cooked, pickled, and then eaten cold as a condiment; or peeled, shredded raw, and then eaten as a salad. Pickled beets are a traditional food of the American South. It is also common in Australia, New Zealand, and the United Arab Emirates for pickled beetroot to be served on a hamburger.[3]

A traditional Pennsylvania Dutch dish is red beet eggs. Hard-boiled eggs are refrigerated in the liquid left over from pickling beets and allowed to marinate until the eggs turn a deep pink-red colour.

In Poland, beet is combined with horseradish to form popular Ćwikła z chrzanem, which is often added to a meal consisting of meat, potatoes and a salad.

When beet juice is used, it is most stable in foods with a low water activity, such as frozen novelties and fruit fillings.[4] Betanins, obtained from the roots, are used industrially as red food colourants, e.g. to intensify the colour of tomato paste, sauces, desserts, jams and jellies, ice cream, sweets and breakfast cereals.[2]

Beetroot can also be used to make wine.[5]

Beetroot juice was found in one preliminary study to improve performance in athletes, possibly because of its abundance of nitrate.[6][7]

Nutrients and phytochemicals[edit]

Beetroot is an excellent source of folate and a good source of manganese,[8] and contains betaines which may function to reduce the concentration of homocysteine,[9] a homolog of the naturally occurring amino acid cysteine. High circulating levels of homocysteine may be harmful to blood vessels and thus contribute to the development of heart disease, stroke, or peripheral vascular disease.[10] This hypothesis is controversial as it has not been established yet whether homocysteine itself is harmful, or whether it is just an indicator of increased risk for heart disease.[11]

The red colour compound betanin is not broken down in the body, and in higher concentration may temporarily cause urine and stool to assume a reddish colour; in the case of urine this is called beeturia.[12] This effect may cause distress and concern due to the visual similarity to hematuria (blood in the urine) or blood in the stool, but is completely harmless and will subside once the food is out of the system.

A 2012 study highlighted beetroot as a source of acute dietary nitrate, which was used to test the influence of nitrate supplementation on resting heart rate and sustained apnea. 70 ml of beetroot juice, containing approximately 5 mmol of nitrate, was found to reduce resting blood pressure by 2% and increase the maximum duration of apnea by 11% in experienced divers, relative to a control group receiving a placebo.[6]

One preliminary study showed that ingestion of beet juice reduced blood pressure in hypertensive individuals. After ingesting beets or beet juice,[13] nitrate from the beets is thought to be extracted from blood by the salivary gland, accumulate in saliva, then reduced to nitric oxide to have a direct blood pressure lowering effect. Under this assumption, saliva testing for the bioconversion of beet-derived nitrate into salivary nitrite may serve as a biomarker for total body nitric oxide status.[7]

Preliminary research[edit]

Basic research on both rats and pilot studies on humans have shown betaine may protect against liver disease, particularly the buildup of fatty deposits in the liver caused by alcohol abuse, protein deficiency, or diabetes, among other causes.[10]

In preliminary research, beetroot juice lowered blood pressure and thus may help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.[14][15] The effect is attributed to the high nitrate content of the beetroot. The study correlated high nitrate concentrations in the blood following ingestion of the beetroot juice and the drop in blood pressure. Dietary nitrate, such as that found in the beetroot, is thought to be a source for the biological messenger nitric oxide, which is used by the endothelium to signal smooth muscle, triggering it to relax. This induces vasodilation and increased blood flow.[16]

One study found positive effects beetroot may have on human exercise performance, showing that distance runners ran 5% faster times after consuming baked beetroot.[17]

Other uses[edit]

Betanin, obtained from the roots, is used industrially as red food colorant, to improve the color and flavor of tomato paste, sauces, desserts, jams and jellies, ice cream, sweets, breakfast cereals, etc.[2] Beetroot dye may also be used in ink.

Within older bulbs of beetroot, the color is a deep crimson, and the flesh is much softer.

The juice has been used to make road salt more effective.[18]

Historical facts[edit]

Beetroot digging by Leon Wyczółkowski (1911), National Museum in Warsaw

From the Middle Ages, beetroot was used as a treatment for a variety of conditions, especially illnesses relating to digestion and the blood. Bartolomeo Platina recommended taking beetroot with garlic to nullify the effects of 'garlic-breath'.[19]


Below is a list of several commonly available varieties of beets. Generally 55 to 65 days from germination to harvest of the root. All varieties can be harvested earlier for use as greens. Unless otherwise noted, the root colour of the following varieties are shades of red and dark red with different degrees of zoning noticeable in slices.

  • Albino, heirloom (white root)
  • Bull's Blood, heirloom
  • Chioggia, heirloom (distinct red and white zoned root)
  • Crosby's Egyptian, heirloom
  • Cylindra / Formanova, heirloom (elongated root)
  • Detroit Dark Red Medium Top, heirloom
  • Early Wonder, heirloom
  • Golden Beet / Burpee's Golden, heirloom (yellow root)
  • Perfected Detroit, 1934 AAS winner[20]
  • Red Ace Hybrid
  • Ruby Queen, 1957 AAS winner[20]
  • Touchstone Gold (yellow root)


  1. ^ "Sorting Beta names". Multilingual Multiscript Plant Name Database. The University of Melbourne. Archived from the original on 2013-04-15. Retrieved 2013-04-15. 
  2. ^ a b c Grubben, G.J.H. & Denton, O.A. (2004) Plant Resources of Tropical Africa 2. Vegetables. PROTA Foundation, Wageningen; Backhuys, Leiden; CTA, Wageningen.
  3. ^ Weird Foods from around the World
  4. ^ Francis, F.J. (1999). Colorants. Egan Press. ISBN 1-891127-00-4. 
  5. ^ Making Wild Wines & Meads; Pattie Vargas & Rich Gulling; page 73
  6. ^ a b Engan, Harald; Andrew M. Jones; Fanny Ehrenberg; Erika Schagatay (2012). "Acute dietary nitrate supplementation improves dry static apnea performance". Respiratory Physiology & Neurobiology 182 (2–3): 53. doi:10.1016/j.resp.2012.05.007. 
  7. ^ a b
  8. ^ "Nutrition Facts for Beets, Raw per 100 g". Conde Nast. 2012. Retrieved 29 July 2013. 
  9. ^ Pajares, M. A.; Pérez-Sala, D (2006). "Betaine homocysteine S-methyltransferase: Just a regulator of homocysteine metabolism?". Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences 63 (23): 2792–803. doi:10.1007/s00018-006-6249-6. PMID 17086380.  edit
  10. ^ a b A.D.A.M., Inc., ed. (2002). Betaine. University of Maryland Medical Center 
  11. ^ Potter, K.; Hankey, G. J.; Green, D. J.; Eikelboom, J. W.; Arnolda, L. F. (2008). "Homocysteine or Renal Impairment: Which is the Real Cardiovascular Risk Factor?". Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology 28 (6): 1158. doi:10.1161/ATVBAHA.108.162743. 
  12. ^ Frank, T; Stintzing, F. C.; Carle, R; Bitsch, I; Quaas, D; Strass, G; Bitsch, R; Netzel, M (2005). "Urinary pharmacokinetics of betalains following consumption of red beet juice in healthy humans". Pharmacological Research 52 (4): 290–7. doi:10.1016/j.phrs.2005.04.005. PMID 15964200.  edit
  13. ^ Lundberg JO et al. (2011). "Roles of dietary inorganic nitrate in cardiovascular health and disease". Cardiovasc Res 89 (3): 525–32. doi:10.1093/cvr/cvq325. PMID 20937740. 
  14. ^ Hobbs, D. A.; Kaffa, N.; George, T. W.; Methven, L.; Lovegrove, J. A. (2012). "Blood pressure-lowering effects of beetroot juice and novel beetroot-enriched bread products in normotensive male subjects". British Journal of Nutrition 108 (11): 2066–2074. doi:10.1017/S0007114512000190. PMID 22414688.  edit
  15. ^ Siervo, M.; Lara, J.; Ogbonmwan, I.; Mathers, J. C. (2013). "Inorganic Nitrate and Beetroot Juice Supplementation Reduces Blood Pressure in Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis". Journal of Nutrition 143 (6): 818–826. doi:10.3945/jn.112.170233. PMID 23596162.  edit
  16. ^ Webb, Andrew J.; Nakul Patel; Stavros Loukogeorgakis; Mike Okorie; Zainab Aboud; Shivani Misra; Rahim Rashid; Philip Miall; John Deanfield; Nigel Benjamin; Raymond MacAllister; Adrian J. Hobbs; Amrita Ahluwalia; Patel, N; Loukogeorgakis, S; Okorie, M; Aboud, Z; Misra, S; Rashid, R; Miall, P et al. (2008). "Acute Blood Pressure Lowering, Vasoprotective, and Antiplatelet Properties of Dietary Nitrate via bioconversion to Nitrite". Hypertension 51 (3): 784–790. doi:10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.107.103523. PMC 2839282. PMID 18250365 
  17. ^ Murphy, M.; Eliot, K.; Heuertz, R. M.; Weiss, E. (2012). "Whole Beetroot Consumption Acutely Improves Running Performance". Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics 112 (4): 548–552. doi:10.1016/j.jand.2011.12.002. PMID 22709704.  edit
  18. ^ Road salt additive USA Today
  19. ^ Platina De Honesta Voluptate et Valetudine, 3.14
  20. ^ a b "AAS winners 1933 to present". Retrieved 2011-11-04.