There’s something so hearty and wholesome about a beet-bejeweled salad or smoothie. But here’s a pro tip to level up your health game: Don’t throw out the stems and leaves!
Beet greens are 100 percent edible and brimming with green goodness. Here’s everything you need to know about beet greens nutrition.
Beet greens nutrition facts
Beet greens are just what they sound like — the green leaves of the beet plant. They’re also a tasty way to spice up a humdrum veggie roast.
Here’s the nutrition in 1 cup of beet greens:
- Calories: 70 calories
- Protein: 3 grams
- Fat: 4 grams
- Net carbs: 1 net carb (that’s 7 grams of carbs minus 6 grams of fiber)
- Iron: 4 milligrams
Oh, and there’s tons of important nutrients like Vitamin C, phosphorus, and zinc, too!
There’s not much research that’s focused specifically on beet greens. But it’s possible to pinpoint several health perks they’re likely to bring thanks to some of the leaves’ standout micronutrients.
Nurture your immune system with vitamin C
- Vitamin C: 32.8 milligrams per cup
Tired of the old “apple a day” routine? Try a plate of beets a day!
Beets already contain a mini-dose of vitamin C, but beet greens really up the ante. Just a cup of beet greens contains more than a third of your daily recommended vitamin C.
OK, so you can’t literally “boost” your immune system. But research suggests that a vitamin C deficiency increases your chances of getting sick. So noshing on these greens is a great way to support your body’s defenses.
Pile on the vitamin K
- Vitamin K: 628 micrograms per cup
Slamming a beet greens salad = filling your body with *way* more than your daily vitamin K requirement (between 90 and 120 micrograms for adults). Um, yes please!
Your body needs vitamin K for lots of important reasons, including:
- blood clotting
- bone strength
- heart health
If you’re at risk for osteoporosis, a clotting disorder, or heart disease, it’s even more important to make sure you’re getting enough vitamin K.
A 2019 research review even suggested that a vitamin K deficiency can raise your risk of memory probs like Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. (Just keep in mind that more research is needed to unearth the exact relationship between vitamin K and brain health.)
Get your daily dose of magnesium
- Magnesium: 110 milligrams per cup
Magnesium might be a micronutrient, but it’s got a major role to play in your body. Low levels can raise your risk of certain conditions, including:
- heart disease
- high blood pressure
- type 2 diabetes
- Alzheimer’s disease
- attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- depression and anxiety
Remember, you don’t necessarily need to take a magnesium supplement. Give your doc a call before adding supplements to your routine to make sure it won’t cause any interactions with any medications you may be taking.
Rev up your digestive system with fiber
- Fiber: 6 grams per cup
If you’ve ever been constipated, you know that fiber is kind of a big deal. This little poop promoter is a crucial part of your daily diet and overall wellness.
Of course, fiber leads to more than just a daily dump. It improves your gut’s microbiome by nourishing friendly bacteria. And a happy microbiome may even lead to a happier mind and healthier you.
Strengthen your chompers with calcium
- Calcium: 183 milligrams per cup
Got sensitive teeth? Listen up!
When the protective enamel on your teeth gets worn down or damaged, your teeth can get a little touchy. Sometimes the sensitivity stems from recent dental work or a mouth injury, but other times it’s because your enamel is weak.
Science says calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D are super important for strong enamel. Beet greens don’t contain vitamin D, but they can help you boost your intake of two of these three nutrients!
Pamper any buns in the oven with vitamin B9
- vitamin B: 0.183 milligrams per cup
On top of all the nutrients we’ve covered, beet greens contain folate (aka vitamin B9) which is a key player in healthy fetal development.
Folate is the food form of folic acid, a common supplement for expecting parents. Since this vitamin is crucial for that bun in the oven, noshing on beet greens is a solid (and dare we say scrumptious?) way to help lower your bebe’s risk of developmental issues like congenital disabilities or neurodegenerative diagnoses.
Like kale, beet greens are edible but tough. You’ve got two options: Cook ‘em until tender or crunch on them raw.
How to prep beet greens
Once you separate the beets from their leaves, wash these greens like spinach or Swiss chard.
- Rinse under cold water.
- Chop off the super coarse part of the stem.
- Swish in a bowl of cold water again to remove the remaining grit.
- Chop the leaves to your preferred size.
- Bon Appetit! 🥗
How to eat raw beet greens
So easy. Just chop those leaves into bite-sized bits and mix ‘em up with softer greens to dial back the crunchiness.
Like mustard greens, kale, and collard greens, raw beet greens can also be blended into green smoothies.
How to eat cooked beet greens
Raw beet greens have a delightfully mild flavor, but some folks don’t love the thick, tough stems. Soften the leaves into a silky treat by cooking or braising them in olive oil. A sprinkle of salt and red pepper flakes completes the dish.
Cooked beet greens are a vitamin-packed complement to lean protein dishes like baked salmon or roasted chicken. They also add a mild green flavor to bean soup or vegetable stew (though you’ll want to add the beet greens in the last 5 to 10 minutes of cooking).
Here’s some ideas:
Well, sure. Like any food, it’s best to leave the beets (and their greens) behind if you experience signs of an allergic reaction, including:
- a tingly, itchy mouth
- sudden stomach pain
- swelling face or throat (🚨CALL 911!🚨)
- sudden trouble breathing or swallowing (🚨CALL 911!🚨)
Potential potassium probs
Folks with kidney disease or frequent kidney stones should also put a cap on their beet plant consumption.
That’s because beet greens are high in potassium (1190 milligrams per cup!), which is a source of a food compound called oxalate. Research shows that oxalates can raise your risk of kidney stones. #TheMoreYouKnow
If you’re not allergic to beets and you don’t have kidney probs, these greens are prob unbe-leaf-ably good for you. 😉
If you eat a lot of beets, don’t toss out the leaves! Beet greens have oodles of nutritional value, from fiber and protein to vitamins C, K, and B9.
You can eat beet greens raw or cooked. No matter how you choose to chow down, you could enjoy health perks like a stronger immune system, healthier teeth, and a healthier digestive tract.