What are beet greens
Like carrots and radishes, fresh beetroots available in farmers markets may have their leafy greens attached to them. Known as beet greens, they may also be available alone, as an individual vegetable.
Table Of Content
Are beet greens edible
These leafy green tops of the beet can be eaten as they have a distinct and delicious taste as well as a lot of health benefits because of their high content of vitamins and minerals.
Spanish: Hojas de remolacha
Dutch: Bieten greens
Beetroot tops are deep green, bunched together with the veins being of the color of the beetroot – yellow for yellow beets and red for the red ones. When raw, they possess a chewy and woody texture similar to collard greens and kale. The mild-flavored greens attain a soft and sweet taste when cooked for a shorter span. However, the larger leaves may have a bitter taste because of the high oxalic acid content.
Given below is the nutritional value of 100-gram beet greens that has been boiled and drained, with salt added.
|Total Dietary Fibers||2.9 gm|
|Total Fat||0.20 gm|
|Total Sugars||0.60 gm|
|Saturated Fatty acids||0.031 gm|
|Polyunsaturated Fatty acids||0.070 gm|
|Monosaturated Fatty acids||0.038 gm|
|Vitamin A, RAE||383 µg|
|Vitamin A, IU||7654 IU|
|Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)||0.117 mg|
|Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)||0.289 mg|
|Vitamin B3 (Niacin )||0.499 mg|
|Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)||0.132 mg|
|Vitamin B12||0.00 µg|
|Vitamin C (total ascorbic acid)||24.9 mg|
|Vitamin E (alpha+ tocopherol)||1.81 mg|
|Vitamin K||484 µg|
Health benefits: Are beet greens good for you
Good source of Vitamin A
Containing a major amount of the daily value of Vitamin A, having beet greens as a part of your daily diet may be helpful in boosting your immune system, by stimulating the activities of the white blood cells which in turn produces antibodies to fight the pathogens or foreign materials.
Consuming the greens on a daily basis can be highly beneficial for your eyes because, in addition to the Vitamin A (carotenoids, beta-carotene) content, they are also rich in lutein and zeaxanthin that help in filtering the harmful blue wavelengths of light that are of high energy, also acting as an antioxidant, protecting and maintaining the healthy cells of the eyes.
Beet greens are in the list of foods useful for maintaining a proper weight, as one cup of this vegetable contains only 39 calories with minimum fat and no cholesterol at all.
Effective in lowering blood pressure
Like beetroots, its leafy tops also contain a significant amount of nitrate (100 grams having 177 mg) which is instrumental in lowering blood pressure levels due to its vasodilator properties. Besides, it also contains a substantial amount of potassium that helps in regulating your blood pressure as it minimizes the effects of sodium.
Source of Vitamin K
Beet greens serve as an excellent source of Vitamin K, that contributes towards calcium absorption in bones, lessening the risks of several bone-related problems like osteoporosis and osteoarthritis, thus facilitating in a sound bone health.
This vitamin also contributes towards the improvement of heart health by reducing oxidative stress and inhibiting artificial calcification that would otherwise lead to a reduced blood flow.
The presence of betalain pigments in these leafy tops stimulates glutathione (an antioxidant) production that enhances detoxification of the liver.
Iron, an essential component of hemoglobin, facilitates in transmitting oxygen from the lungs to the cells and tissues. These leafy greens being a rich source of this mineral, when added to your diet along with other foods high in iron, may minimize your risks of anemia.
The greens are also high in magnesium and sodium with the former facilitating in a good heart health, minimizing the risk of Type 2 diabetes and maintaining healthy bones, whereas the latter helps in balancing the body fluids as well as improving the functioning of the nervous system.
Having a high content of Vitamin A that facilitates fetal growth, beet greens are a good food source for pregnant women. Another significant vitamin present in these vegetables is folate (Vitamin B9), accounting for 5% of the daily value, which is highly essential during pregnancy for preventing any neural tube defects in newborns. However, have a word with your health care provider while selecting your diet during pregnancy.
How to use beet greens
- Beet greens are used in stir-fries, pasta, and casseroles.
- The natural saltiness present in beet greens along with its immense nutritional value makes it a nice addition to soups and stews.
- These leafy tops are used to make a Korean side dish named kimchi.
- Roasted and sautéed greens can be mixed with beet, spinach, collard or other vegetables to form a delightful side dish.
- Beet greens can be baked to prepare crispy chips, having a grassy flavor.
Can you eat beet greens raw
Young, fresh and crispy beet greens form an essential ingredient in salads and sandwiches in its raw form as they are tender and have an excellent flavor.
How to prepare and cook
How to clean
Separate the fresh beet greens from their stalk and wash them well in cold running water. Once washed, drain the water and put the greens in a dry large bowl. Do not soak the leaves in water for too long or the water-soluble nutrients may fade. Clean the stalk too if you are using them. Chop the leaves and stems as necessary.
How to boil
Use a large container filled with water for boiling the greens as studies have shown that boiling them in high amounts of water helps in lessening their oxalic acid content.
- Fill the pot to the brim with water
- Add salt by the measurement of water ( one and a half teaspoon of salt to one and three-fourth quarts of water)
- Put the leaves into the pot and boil for about a minute
- Leave the pot uncovered during the boiling process for releasing a greater amount of acid.
- You may drain the water with a strainer or take out the leaves from the pot, keep it in a bowl and press with a fork to remove any excess water.
- Season the greens using salt and pepper and toss it with olive oil or butter.
How to steam
- Fill the steamer pot with water up to a level of about 2 inches
- Add the leaves
- Steam for about thirty to forty minutes till the greens are tender
- Season and garnish it with other ingredients to get a delicious flavor
Can you juice beet greens
Beet greens can be prepared as a juice because of its mild flavor and high nutritious value. However, it is better to dilute it with carrot, kale, and apple, to enhance the taste as well as its nutritious value.
They are a commonly used ingredient for cold beverages like smoothies and milkshakes as well.
Recipe: What to do with beet greens
- Potato and beet greens frittata
- Chicken, grated beets and beet greens with orange butter
- Beet greens chopped salad
- Oven roasted beet greens chips
- Sauteed baby beet greens
- Braised beet greens with balsamic vinegar
- Swiss chard and beet greens kotu (stew)
- Beet greens lasagna with a béchamel sauce
Swiss chard, belonging to the same plant family, can be a suitable substitute to beet greens, having a similarity in texture and flavor. You can also use spinach for the purpose.
Can beet greens be bad for you
Although it does not generally have any side effects, overconsumption of the greens may result in vomiting, diarrhea, and nausea.
As beet greens contain a high amount of oxalate, people diagnosed with kidney stones (calcium oxalate) must abstain from consuming it as it may combine with the calcium present in the body triggering the stone formation.
Where to buy
You can get fresh beet greens in your local farmer’s market while they may also be available in grocery stores selling fruits and vegetables. If buying along with the beetroot, then ensure that the leaves have a bright green color along with a soft texture. Avoid the ones having a slimy, wilted appearance or yellow foliage.
How to store
Put the greens in a Ziploc bag and store in the refrigerator to keep them fresh about four days.
Wrap the washed and dried greens in a paper towel and store in a plastic bag in the vegetable section of the refrigerator to keep them for a longer span of two weeks.
How to freeze
- Cut the leaves, discarding any yellow or brown ones as well as parts that have a hole
- Place the sliced leaves in a pot and blanch them for about three minutes
- Take out the greens using tongs or fork and put them in a bowl of ice water
- Let them cool for approximately two to three minutes
- Drain off the water using a strainer
- Spread the cooled beet greens evenly on a towel and air dry them for one to two hours
- Put the dried clumps of greens in a zip-lock bag and store them in the freezer.
- In ancient times, the beet leaves were eaten while the roots were thrown away.
- The Romans who recognized the edible uses of the roots ate only these leafy beet tops preserving the beets for medicinal purpose.
- by Mumpi Ghose
- January 22nd 2016