Summer is in full swing. Here in Florida, that means extra hot temperatures and (hopefully) some beach time! Our produce of the month this month is beets. These are actually a cool-weather crop, but not too cold. They are best planted in spring to be harvested in June, or late summer to be harvested in the Fall. Most of us know beets as a dark red colored root vegetable. But beets actually come in a variety of colors including bright red and pink, sunny golden, candy-cane striped Chioggia (pictured below), and even white. These all have varying flavors too. More reason to try them all! More than half of the sugar in the U.S. comes from sugarbeets. These are bred for their high sugar content, although they are not eaten raw and must be processed.
Beetroot is high in fiber, folate and manganese. Folate is essential for red blood cell production and aids in preventing some types of anemia. Manganese aids in metabolism and plays a role in bone formation, blood clotting, and reducing inflammation.
The leafy greens of beets are nutritionally similar to chard which makes them high in fiber; Vitamins A, C, and K; riboflavin; and minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, copper, and manganese. These greens are a powerhouse of nutrients and aid in all types of bodily processes that help us feel healthy. The strong red and yellow colors found in most varieties are called betalains and are antioxidants. These have been studied for their cancer-preventative properties and help boost immune system function.
When buying beets, looks for ones that are heavy for their size. These will be ripe and nutrient dense without being dried out. If they have leaves, make sure there are no yellow spots. Every part of the beet is edible – the root, stem, and leaves! Chop the greens to eat as a salad, or any way you would usually eat spinach. The stems are delicious cut up in a stir-fry. Roast the root, let it cool, and use a paper towel to rub the skin off (no need for peeling!). Beetroot can also be eaten raw, boiled, or made into chips. For some recipe ideas, check out this month’s recipe page. To learn more about beets and our other featured fruits and vegetables, visit our Produce of the Month page!
Stay safe, stay healthy!