I know that many of us cut off and compost the green leaves from our beets, but did you know that they’re actually the most nutrient-rich part of the plant? And they’re delicious as well. I particularly like them sautéd in olive oil with garlic and chili flakes.
Dark green leafy vegetables are often lumped together as a group and treated as interchangeable. However, the up-to-date nutrient information reveals important differences between members of this incredibly nutrient-rich food group.
For example, when beet greens are compared with turnip and mustard greens, while all three provide calcium, only beet greens provide magnesium too. Nearly 25% of the recommended daily amount per serving. Magnesium helps with the absorption of calcium. Beet greens also contain other minerals that include iron, copper, potassium and manganese.
Beet greens are also full of carotenoids lutein (an antioxidant). While not as concentrated in lutein as collard greens or spinach, beet greens have nevertheless been shown to be an outstanding source of this key nutrient.
Beet greens will also provide you with folate (B9). This is one of the essential vitamins needed for copying and synthesizing DNA, producing new cells and supporting nerve and immune functions. They’re also a source of fibre and protein.
In the vitamin category, they contain both fat-soluble vitamins like vitamins A (essential to healthy vision) and K (important for bone health), as well as water-soluble vitamins like C (helps repair tissue and aids in the absorption of iron).
Other water-soluble vitamins in beet greens include B1 (which helps metabolize carbohydrates), B2 (needed for a healthy nervous system), B3 (essential for the metabolism of carbohydrates and fats) and B6 (important for the immune system).
They also contain pantothenic acid (B5), which is vital in the metabolism of proteins and carbohydrates; for healthy skin; and for the breaking down of fatty acids.
That’s only a partial list of what these nutrients provide to us. When my mother used to tell me to “eat my greens” she knew what she was talking about!