Beet greens: 7 ways this veggie can improve your health
Published 12:13 pm Tuesday, June 28, 2022
We all know that vegetable greens are an important part of any diet, but one of the most nutritious might surprise some folks. Some have never even heard of beet greens, but this vegetable provides an impressive array of nutrients. In fact, beet greens rank fourth on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s list of the most nutritious fruits and vegetables, ahead of dandelion, mustard, turnip, collard greens, and even spinach. Beet greens are the scarlet stems and green leaves attached to the beetroot plant. They have a similar colorful look as Swiss chard and can be prepared and eaten in much the same way. Interestingly, Swiss chard is the only green deemed more nutritious than beet greens.
Here are a few of beet greens’ healthful benefits:
- Beet greens contain high levels of nitrates, which are good for cardiovascular health. Vegetable nitrates are compounds that consist of nitrogen and oxygen atoms. The body converts these chemicals to nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is known as a vasodilator, which relaxes the inner muscles of blood vessels, causing them to widen, thereby reducing blood pressure. The nitrates in beet greens also increase blood oxygen levels, which greatly improves cardiac function.
- Just one cup of cooked beet greens provides 60% of the daily value of vitamin C. This nutrient is a powerful antioxidant that helps keep the immune system running properly. One way vitamin C accomplishes this is by stimulating neutrophil migration to the site of infections. Neutrophils are a type of white blood cell that patrol for signs of microbial infection, and when found, quickly respond to kill the pathogen.
- Beet greens are great for eye health as they contain vitamin A and lutein. The vitamin A from beet greens is in the form of beta carotene, which is converted into retinol, the usable form of vitamin A. Retinol plays a crucial role in vision by maintaining a clear cornea.
- As most everyone knows, we need calcium for strong bones, and beet greens are a good source of this nutrient. That’s especially important for vegetarians, vegans, and those who prefer non-dairy foods. In addition to calcium, beet greens supply magnesium, vitamin D, and vitamin K. Why is that important? Well, magnesium contributes to bone stabilization, mineralization and growth, while vitamin K works with vitamin D to ensure that calcium finds its way to bones to help them develop properly.
- These super veggies can also support a healthy pregnancy and prenatal care. Beet greens are rich in vitamin B9 (folate). Folate is necessary for both infants and adults, as it helps the body generate red blood cells. During pregnancy, folate is vital for ensuring proper healthful growth of the baby’s cells and tissues.
- The vitamin C in beet greens helps detoxify the liver, promoting healthy skin. Vitamin C also helps the body produce collagen, a structural protein that is a major component of skin.
- Rich in fiber, beet greens enhance digestion while helping prevent chronic constipation. In addition to contributing soluble and insoluble fiber, beet greens are like super probiotics, by stimulating good-gut bacteria. Probiotics are made up of “good” bacteria that help keep the digestive system and the body working well.
Beet greens can be steamed or sauteed. They’re great in soups, stews, casseroles, frittatas, and quiches. Young tender leaves can be eaten raw in salads. Don’t forget the beetroot too, as the entire plant, even the pointy tip of the beetroot is edible. Give healthful beet greens a try. By the way…they’re delicious.
David Crocker is a nutritionist and master personal trainer. Questions? Email David at email@example.com or text to 864-494-6215.