Beets are a versatile and vibrant veggie that offer an abundance of health benefits… but did you know that beet greens (i.e., the stem of the leafy stem of the vegetable) are also full of nutrients?
Two registered dietitians and a private chef share how to prepare and eat beet greens and give us the low-down on why they’re healthy.
Health benefits of eating beet greens
They’re full of vitamin A
According to registered dietitian Nicole Rodriguez, R.D., “One serving of beet greens, about 38 grams, provides nearly half the daily recommended amount of vitamin A… an important fat-soluble antioxidant with benefits that range from the reproductive and immune systems to healthy, radiant skin.”
They offer high amounts of vitamin C
Beets are also a great source of vitamin C, which “helps support your immune system and fight off those pesky flu and cold germs,” says Andrea Mathis, R.D., another registered dietitian.
They’re rich in polyphenols
Both the beetroot itself and its leafy stems offer us polyphenols, which “contain noteworthy antioxidant properties that can help reduce and prevent inflammation,” Mathis explains. Research has even demonstrated how elderly adults who eat a polyphenol-rich diet have improved gut health.
What do beet greens taste like?
Beet greens are considered mild and sweet in flavor. “Think of their flavor as landing between Swiss chard and spinach,” says Rodriguez. So, if you’re not normally a fan of bitter greens, beet greens may offer you a healthy alternative. Rodriguez also points out that the stems of beet greens are not as tough as other super greens like collard and kale.
Raw or cooked?
“Like most vegetables, some nutrients may get lost in the cooking process, but cooked beet greens can still provide a great source of nutrients,” says Mathis, but also cautions that you should be sure not to overcook them, and to opt for steaming or sauteing them rather than boiling.
How to use raw beet greens
Make a salad
A salad is a quick and easy way to get your serving of beet greens without spending too much time on prep. Just wash and dry them and add your favorite salad toppings. To soften up the texture and enhance flavor, private chef Casey Corn suggests massaging the leaves with salt and oil.
Add them to a smoothie
Take advantage of the mild flavor of beet greens and throw them into your smoothie for extra vitamins and minerals without worrying about altering the taste!
Toss them in a pesto
Rodriguez suggests replacing half of the herbs you would normally put into your homemade pesto with beet greens, and enjoying them on pasta, sandwiches, and pizza.
How to use cooked beet greens
Add them as a side dish
To boost the health factor of any meal, having a side of greens is a simple solution. Mathis suggests steaming the leaves and stems or sauteing them in a splash of olive oil.
Make a savory jam
“I slice the greens very thinly, then simmer with lots of sugar, spices, wine, and vinegar until it gets jammy,” says Corn. “You can also pickle the stems of beet greens, too.”
Add them to your favorite soup
If you’re throwing together a soup that calls for bitter leafy greens such as kale, then consider making it more palatable for picky eaters by replacing them with beet greens.