Functional Foods at Farmers Markets - Week Eight

Beets are a perfect functional food now arriving at your local farmers markets.

If you're willing to give them a try, they're ready to deliver many wonderful health benefits.  

Known As:     Table Beet, Red Beet, Garden Beet, Blood Turnip

Known As:

Table Beet, Red Beet, Garden Beet, Blood Turnip

Gold or Golden Beet

Gold or Golden Beet

Beet (beta vulgaris) is a root vegetable from the chenopodiaceae or goosefoot family, which also includes chard and spinach.

The other day, while at the Harvest Downtown Elgin Market located in Elgin, IL, I spotted some beautiful dark red beets just hanging out on top of the vegetable baskets waiting to be scooped up and eaten.





Beet Greens

Beet Greens

Both the beet (beetroot) and greens can be consumed and offer a wonderful assortment of nutritional benefits.

Look what such a low number of calories has to offer!

You'll notice that the beetroot contains natural sugar.

The high amount of fiber in the serving size below, offsets the amount of natural sugars so, the blood glucose level is not negatively impacted. 

Raw Beetroot - One Cup

Raw Beetroot - One Cup

Raw Beet Greens - One Cup

Raw Beet Greens - One Cup

Health Benefits

You can eat almost every bit of the beet!

Beets are used in both sweet and savory recipes and, are a good source of fiber, potassium, folate, manganese, vitamin C, and iron.

Beetroot Ice Cream

Beetroot Ice Cream

Sweet - Beets have quite a bit of natural sugar in them and really add great moisture and sweetness to baked goods, smoothies, juiced beverages, cakes, salsa, ice cream, and much more.

Savory - Beets are cooked in a variety of ways such as canned, grilled, roasted, pickled, steamed, boiled, broiled, and microwaved. Some retailers, such as Trader Joe’s, make it super easy for us and offer them peeled and precooked for us to quickly and easily use in any recipe.

Beetroot Salad

Beetroot Salad

Beet greens are often enjoyed fresh in salads, sautéed, steamed as a side dish, and they add a lovely element to a savory soup.

Beet greens provide us with excellent amounts of vitamins A and K as well as some vitamin C, protein and fiber.

They are also a great source of lutein and zeaxanthin for the eyes.

Roasted Beet Salad

Roasted Beet Salad

Beets and beet greens are loaded with antioxidants, phytonutrients, anti-inflammatories, detoxifiers, and cancer fighting properties.

Beets health promoting properties include:  

  1. Lowering blood pressure
  2. Lowering the risk of different cancers
  3. Lowering inflammation throughout the body
  4. Detoxifying the body
  5. Maintaining the body’s immunity function
  6. Keeping the bones healthy
  7. Providing a good amount of fiber

Be Careful!

To keep the wonderful antioxidants, phytonutrients, etc. from being damaged, don't overcook your beets. 



Studies have shown that beet consumption can improve athletic performance because they have a high concentration of nitrates.

The nitrates eventually convert into nitric oxide, which allows the body to use less oxygen while performing and to exercise for longer periods of time without becoming fatigued. This effect is known as an ergogenic effect.

Beetroot Juice

Beetroot Juice

The performance benefits for athletes have been studied with the use of beetroot juice. In a variety of studies, the athletes consumed anywhere from 5 – 17 ounces of beetroot juice.

The studies showed that the athletes that consumed beetroot juice between 90 minutes and three hours before their event, received the highest benefits in their performance.

Some runners magazines and forums say that approximately 17 ounces of beetroot juice consumed two to three hours before an event gives them the best results.


Borscht - Beet Soup

Served warm or cold 

Beet consumption improves blood flow, circulation, and cellular respiration.

All of this improves the transportation of oxygen around the body and the energy provided to the powerhouse (mitochondria) of every cell.

So many benefits that make our heart, lungs, brain, and much more happy!

Roasted Beets

I volunteered at a cancer resource center where we cooked meals and provided nutrition education for cancer patients in treatment. We often served roasted beets and they were always a big hit. There is a quick and easy recipe below in the resources section. Give them a try!

Odd Random Beet Fact

After eating beets, a small percentage of people may experience beeturia, which is pink or red tinted urine. It is caused from the red color pigment, betalain, which causes the excretion of betacyanin in the urine.

Although, not considered dangerous, beeturia can scare people if they haven’t heard of it. However, if it occurs, it can indicate that a person may have an iron-related issue, so it is recommended that they let their medical practitioner know and have it checked out.

Turn the Beat Around and Give Beets A Chance!!

Ohhh, I know some of you are groaning right now with that terrible play on words! Sorry, I couldn't resist :) 


Resources: Beetroot Hummus: Beet Salsa: Beet Ice Cream: Beet, Ginger, and Coconut Milk Soup: Bobby Flay’s Roasted Beets for Recipes: Tyler Florence – Beet Cakes with Sweet Greek Yogurt:

Minamalist Baker – Fudgy Vegan Beet Cupcakes:

SuperHealthyKids – Oven Roasted Sweets and Beets: – Baking with Beets: Five Surprisingly Delicious Recipes:

The World’s Healthiest Foods – 15-Minute Beets: