|Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)|
|Energy||180 kJ (43 kcal)|
|- Sugars||7.96 g|
|- Dietary fiber||2.0 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
The beetroot, also known in North America as the table beet, garden beet, red or golden beet, or informally simply as the beet, refers to any of the cultivated varieties of beet (Beta vulgaris) grown for their edible taproots, especially B. vulgaris L. subsp. conditiva. 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.
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.
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.
When beet juice is used, it is most stable in foods with a low water activity, such as frozen novelties and fruit fillings. 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.
Beetroot can also be used to make wine.
Nutrients and phytochemicals
Beetroot is an excellent source of folate and a good source of manganese, and contains betaines which may function to reduce the concentration of homocysteine, 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. 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.
The red colour compound betanin is not broken down in the body, and in higher concentration may temporarily cause urine (termed beeturia) and stool to assume a reddish colour. 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.
One preliminary study showed that ingestion of beet juice reduced blood pressure in hypertensive individuals. After ingesting beets or beet juice, 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.
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.
In preliminary research, beetroot juice lowered blood pressure and thus may help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. 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.
One study found positive effects beetroot may have on human exercise performance, showing that distance runners ran 5% faster times after consuming baked beetroot.
Betanin, obtained from the roots, is used industrially as red food colorants, e.g. to improve the color and flavor of tomato paste, sauces, desserts, jams and jellies, ice cream, sweets, and breakfast cereals. 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.
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'.
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
- Red Ace Hybrid
- Ruby Queen, 1957 AAS winner
- Touchstone Gold (yellow root)
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