Raw beets are far from bad for you. They are packed with a broad variety of nutrients and vitamins.
Beets are a robust and versatile vegetable. They can be juiced, steamed, baked, sliced and grated to name just a few preparation methods. Beets have long been proclaimed as an excellent source of nutrition and aid the prevention of a variety of common health issues. But what about in their raw form? Whilst many recipes call for beets to be cooked, there are several ways that uncooked beets can be prepared to ensure that get your daily allowance of nutrients and vitamins.
Before we look specifically at raw beets, let’s look at the overall health benefits of this unique vegetable.
First of all, beets contain less than one percent fat per 100-gram serving, making it an excellent way of maintaining a healthy heart and cardiovascular system, and ensuring that the risk of heart disease is reduced. In fact, beets are hugely popular in juice form with athletes and those who attend the gym regularly. As well as maintaining a healthy heart beets are an excellent source of inorganic nitrates that, when consumed, convert into nitric oxide (NO). NO helps to relax the muscles in the arteries which allows for increased blood and oxygen flow. This, in turn, builds stronger muscles.
Beets contain many nutrients, including potassium, magnesium, fiber, phosphorus, and iron. Furthermore, beets are particularly rich in Vitamin A (good for eye health), vitamin C (excellent for preventing colds and flu), and vitamin B (great energy booster). Pregnant women are encouraged to eat beets because of the folate content. Folates and folic acid reduce the risk of potential congenital disabilities in newborns and also minimize the possibility of pre/postnatal anemia.
Finally, the fiber content in beets is very high - some 2.8 grams per 100-gram serving. This equates to approximately 11 percent of your recommended daily intake of fiber; essential for maintaining intestinal health.
So why go raw?
Like many fruits and vegetables, beets have a tendency to lose some of their nutritional content when cooked. Boiling beets, for example, can result in a twenty-five percent loss in folates. If you wish to keep all the flavor and nutrients, it is always best to eat beets raw. Some people find beets a little tough when uncooked, which is why many recipes call for the beets to be grated or sliced very thinly. This method releases the natural sugars and makes for a sweet, delicate flavor.
While the risks of eating raw beets are minimal, they are still there. Many health issues linked to eating beets uncooked come from a disproportionate amount of beets in your diet, so there is little to worry about unless you are eating large quantities daily.
For those drinking beet juice regularly you should be cautious as this can lead to an overload of iron in your body (known as Haemochromatosis). This can increase the risk of liver disease, heart attacks, and hyperthyroidism. Beets also contain a high amount of oxalates, and it is believed that these oxalates are responsible for the calcium build up that produces kidney stones and gall stones.
One final side effect you should be aware of is the discoloration of waste products. Overconsumption of beets can turn urine a pink color and also darken your stools. Discoloration can be a little surprising at first, but thankfully there is no real health implication. It is also a good warning sign that you may need to reduce your beet intake.
Possible short-term side effects
- pink hue to urine
- discoloration of stool
Possible long-term side effects
Ingredients to be aware of
- no nutrients are lost