What Do Beets Taste Like? (And Why You Need To Eat More)

If you’re not familiar with beets or don’t eat them often, you may wonder “What do beets taste like?” Well, I will explain just that in this article along with everything else you may wonder about this gorgeously hued, nutrient-packed, root vegetable.

I’ll even share some fun and delicious recipes to add more beets to your diet.

beetroot with leaves attached on a grey countertop
Photo by Emma-Jane Hobden on Unsplash

Beet Vs Beetroot

No matter if you call it a beet or a beetroot, they are the same. The latter is a name the British use to refer to this bright red root, whereas the former is what Americans have labeled it.

Either way, both the names beet and beetroot can be used interchangeably, along with red beet, table beet, or garden beet.

What Do Beets Taste Like?

Beets can be described as earthy, slightly sweet, or sometimes bitter. Many people also believe that beetroot tastes an awful lot like dirt. This is not surprising since they are root vegetables that are grown in the ground.

That dirt taste described by many folks is attributed to an organic compound called geosmin. This compound has a very distinct, earthy, musty odor that is also found in potted water. The bacteria in the soil are what produce this organic compound.

In mature beets, the outer skins contain up to 6 times the amount of geosmin versus the inner parts of the beetroot. So if that earthy taste or smell isn’t your thing, simply cut away the outer layers of your beets before using them.

If you’d like to get my personal opinion, testing three different preparation methods for beets (plus the opinions of two very special guests), check out this video on YouTube:

Beets Nutrition

Here is the nutrition information on raw beets and cooked beets based on the USDA’s Food Data Central. The serving size used for both is 100 grams. This is equivalent to around 3/4 cup of beets.

NutrientBeets, raw
NDB Number:11080
Beets, cooked, boiled, drained
NDB Number:11081
Calories4344
Protein1.6 gm1.7 gm
Total Fat0.2 gm0.2 gm
Carbohydrate9.6 gm10 gm
Fiber2.8 gm2 gm
Iron0.8 mg0.8 mg
Magnesium23 mg23 mg
Phosphorus40 mg38 mg
Potassium325 mg305 mg
Sodium78 mg77 mg
Vitamin C4.8 mg3.6 mg
Folate (vitamin B9)109 mcg80 mcg
Table 1: Nutrition Information of raw beets and cooked beets. Source: USDA Food Data Central

As you can see, beets are a low-cholesterol and low-sodium food. Beets are also an excellent source of folate providing 27% of the DRI (daily recommended intake) if eating raw beets and 20% of the DRI if choosing cooked beets.

In addition, beets provide iron, vitamin C, potassium, fiber, and other phytonutrients we will mention later on. These all help support a healthy diet and lifestyle.

Beet Varieties

While I focus on red beets in this article, there are SO many different and beautiful varieties available. Some beet varieties include Detroit Dark Red, Early Wonder, Chioggia, Bull’s Blood, Golden, and Ruby Queen.

The color range of beets is also quite impressive with deep hues of red, purple, orange, yellow, and even striped varieties.

striped beet and green tomato salad

Health Benefits of Beetroot

Okay, here is the part of the article where I make my case for eating more beets. Beets are a highly underrated, underappreciated vegetable in my professional opinion. In fact, according to Tastewise, the popularity of beets has declined by 7% over the last year.

Additionally, beets are not as popular here in the United States as compared to Eastern Europe or Australia. However, the nutritional benefits of beetroot should NOT be overlooked. Let me fill you in on the wonders of this powerhouse food.

Anemia

While raw and cooked beets only contain around 0.8 mg of iron per 100 grams, beets and beet greens still support healthy iron levels and can help treat individuals with iron-deficiency anemia. Multiple rat and human studies confirm this idea (1, 2, 3).

Iron in the foods we eat is either from heme iron or non-heme iron. Heme iron comes mainly from animal sources while non-heme iron comes from plant sources, including beets!

Beetroot, beet greens, and beet juice are all rich sources of non-heme iron. Iron is in red blood cells and helps transport oxygen throughout our body.

To make the most of the iron content in beets, be sure to eat them with vitamin C foods. The normal bioavailability of non-heme iron is anywhere from 2% to 20% however, consuming them with animal meats and foods containing vitamin C can quadruple the bioavailability!

Cancer

Beetroot contains many polyphenols, flavonoids, dietary nitrates, and other components that may help prevent cancer and manage the unpleasant side effects of chemotherapy.

The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nature of one specific component of beets comes from their betacyanins, mainly betanin. This gives beets their red coloring and acts as an antioxidant that may prevent DNA damage leading to cancer.

But the anti-tumor properties of beetroot go beyond just cancer prevention. The components in beetroot may also help lessen cancer-related fatigue and slow tumor growth (4, 5). This is due to the high content of dietary nitrates which produce fatigue-reducing nitric oxide, however, more research needs to be done on cancer patients to confirm this.

Cardiovascular

Beets are particularly beneficial for lowering blood pressure. This is related to their inorganic nitrate content.

Research shows that in today’s society where most of us consume more sodium than recommended, inorganic nitrates from beets, other root vegetables, and leafy greens can reduce salt-induced high blood pressure. This functional food can also benefit cardiovascular health by improving arterial stiffness and endothelial function, again thanks to those inorganic nitrates!

And finally, there is promising evidence that beetroot and beetroot juice may also improve lipid (cholesterol) levels. The components in beetroot have been show to prevent lipid peroxidase. In Layman’s terms, lipid peroxidase is bad because this is the rupture and death of cell membranes that can lead to diseases such as atherosclerosis, liver disease, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, and others.

It is also important to mention that diets focused on lowering blood pressure, like the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet, include numerous fruits and vegetables, including nitrate-rich ones.

The DASH dietary pattern encourages about 160 mg of nitrate/day (6).

Beets have around 140 mg of nitrate per 100-gram serving which is equivalent to 3/4-cup.

How To Eat Beetroot

Beets can be eaten in many different forms and using many different cooking methods. Beets are also available canned, frozen, pickled, spiced, in chips, and in powdered form.

Try eating beets using different cooking methods to add different flavors and textures. Some ways in which you can prepare beets are:

Amazing Recipes Using Beets

If you can’t wait to add more beets to your diet, try some of these easy and delicious recipes featuring beets.

Best Air Fryer Beet Chips
This delicious and crispy homemade beet chips recipe is made with three simple ingredients and takes less than 10 minutes to bake when using an air fryer.
Check out this recipe
air fryer beet chips in a white bowl
Lemon Beet Hummus
Beets, chickpeas, tahini, lemon, cloves, and olive oil pureed into a deliciously unique hummus.
Check out this recipe
Beet Smoothie to Lower Blood Pressure
A gorgeous and delicious smoothie with the blood pressure lowering power of beets
Check out this recipe
beet smoothie in a glass with lemon slice
Mediterranean Diet Beets and Arugula Salad
This salad is a great side dish for your balanced meal. I would pair it with your favorite white fish.
Check out this recipe
beets and arugula salad
Homemade Pickled Beets with Mustard Seeds
This recipe for Quick Pickled Beets with Mustard Seeds is simple, easy, sweet, and sour.
Check out this recipe
pickled beets with mustard seeds
Roasted Beets in Cranberry Juice
A simple recipe of roasted beets in 100% cranberry juice and orange slices.
Check out this recipe
Healthy Apple Beet Muffins
These healthy beet muffins are low in sugar, dairy free, high in fiber, and a great option for kids and adults alike!
Check out this recipe
healthy apple beet muffins
Beetroot and Broccoli Salad
This beet and broccoli salad is a vibrant, healthy, and easy-to-make side dish that adds a pop of color and nutrition to your table!
Check out this recipe
beetroot and broccoli salad

Is It OK To Eat Beets Everyday?

If after trying beets, you find that you enjoy them enough to eat them daily (or nearly every day), this is great!

However, there are some precautions you need to be aware of, especially if you are prone to calcium oxalate kidney stones. Beetroot and beetroot juice are very high in oxalates, containing 60-70 milligrams of oxalate per 100 milliliters.

Individuals with GI issues or irritable bowel syndrome may also want to limit their intake of beets. This is because beets contain short-chain carbohydrates, called fructans. When these sugars ferment, it could lead to gas, bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhea, or constipation.

Lastly, if you suffer from hypotension, AKA low blood pressure, regular beet consumption may lead to even lower blood pressure.

Otherwise, beets are highly nutritious and contribute towards your daily intake of vegetables. One serving of beets is one cup of raw or cooked beets. Additionally, a serving of beet juice is 8 fluid ounces.

How Long Does Beetroot Last?

Fresh beets can be kept in your refrigerator for up to 10 days. Cooked beets will last only 3-5 days refrigerated. And pickled beets can last anywhere from several weeks to months.

For fresh beets, simply wash them, trim the stems to 2 inches above the beet, and store them in a plastic bag or container.

You can also freeze beets after washing and trimming for up to 10 months. For more information on storing and preserving your beets, check out this Michigan State University Extension Bulletin.

Conclusion

Now that you’re more aware of what beets taste like, their nutritional status, and all the health benefits associated with them, I hope you give them a try! Getting more vegetables, especially ones with the health benefits that beets can provide, is always a good thing.

The phytonutrients in beetroot are fundamental ingredients for the treatment of many chronic diseases including cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes, and chronic respiratory diseases.

These versatile ruby gems can brighten up any dish. Depending on how you prepare them, you can alter the flavors slightly. I encourage you to experiment with different ways to prepare beets and find your favorite way to cook them (or eat them raw)!

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