Beets are a great health food. They fight cancer so well that you have to be cautious. They also fight birth defects and vision problems.
Note: No two beets are the same and no two people are the same, so this page is only about most people and most beets.
Beets first appeared in the coasts of the Mediterranean, and were grown for their greens, as Swiss Chard still is. A couple of thousand years ago they also started eating the roots. Now many gardeners cook up some beet greens and some beetroot in the same meal.
Health benefits such as curing cancer are greatly reduced by cooking. If you really must cook them, leave 1inch-2inch (up to 50mm) of stem attached and leave dangling roots intact when cooking fresh beets to prevent loss of color. The skins slip off easily after cooking. The cooked beets are excellent served as a hot vegetable or cooled and added to salads.
Better still, eat them raw without peeling them. You might be surprised by how sweet they are when raw, but remember that sugar-beet is a major source of refined sugar. Grate them for a salad, or blend them into a fruit and vegetable drink.
Colourful Guide to Nutritional Health
Red-violet (betacyanin) and yellow (betaxanthin) pigments, which are located in the cytoplasm of plant tissue, only occur in about 10 plant families (and always independent of anthocyanins). 1/2 cup of cooked beet greens contain 3672 IU Vitamin A. Half a cup of cooked beet root contains only 11 IU.
Use them to find out if you are eating too much fiber. If your stools bleed red in less than 12 hours that tells you that your food is going through you too fast to digest everything properly.
Beet is a good example of the harm done by refining. The sugar in sugar beet is good for you, but refined beet sugar is bad for you. Beet didn't get into the top 20 of nutritious fruit and vegetables but the beet greens did.
Dr Ferenczi in Csoma hospital in Hungary has been using raw beets to cure cancer, and nothing else since the late 1950s. The only problem is the same one as you get with heroic injections of vitamin C. If you eat too much raw beetroot, it can kill the cancer faster than your liver can dispose of the waste products. So if you have a large cancer, start with small quantities of beetroot, and gradually increase them until you start to feel unwell, and then back off the amount. You may get a fever if your liver is being asked to work too hard.
You could probably get the same results with vitamin C injections, but having to increase the quantity gradually would mean multiple injections, whereas raw beetroot tastes good.
You can buy dried beetroot powder in many health food shops. That allows you to use large quantities, so remember the precaution.
The folate in beets fights birth defects, but there are probably better sources of folate. However if you enjoy beets the folate is an addedorus
Compare that with 100 g raw beetroot greens, which are more watery. Look especially at the vitamins.
- 91g water
- 4.33g carbohydrate
- 3.7g fibre (even though there is more water that in the root)
- 117mg calcium (that's better)
- 70mg magnesium
- 41mg phosphorus
- 762mg potassium (compares even better with bananas)
- vitamin C 30mg
- 15mcg folate
- 6326 IU vitamin A (steam lightly to kill as few vitamins as possible)
- 400mcg vitamin K
- 3794mcg beta carotene (I don't know why I mentioned it in the roots)
- 1503mcg Lutein zeaxanthin