Beets boast an array of nutrients with a satisfying sweetness. In fact, they’re a great source of antioxidants, potassium, folate, vitamin C and other nutrients.
But that’s not their only superpower according to researchers at St. Louis University. Their study showed that, after eating baked beets, runners increased their speed by 3 percent, shaving 41 seconds off their race times.
Choosing and Cooking Beets
Look for vegetables that are firm — not soft — and free of dents and bruises. If the greens are attached, they should be crisp, sturdy and brightly colored.
Beets peak in spring and fall, but may be available year-round in mild climates. If you’re ready to put some on your plate, here are three ways to serve them up.
Slice off the green tops, leaving about a 1-inch stem. Wrap each beet in foil and bake at 400 F for about 50 minutes or until they can be easily pierced with a fork. Allow them to cool, then remove skins with paper towels. Slice, then toss with balsamic vinaigrette and toasted walnuts for a sweet and savory side.
Follow the directions for roasting through the step in which skins are removed. Slice beets thinly and toss them with arugula (or another green), mandarin oranges, goat cheese and a homemade vinaigrette (try sherry vinegar, Dijon mustard, olive oil and honey).
Thinly slice beets to 1/16th of an inch thick using a mandoline and toss with olive oil. Cook them at 350 F for about 30 minutes on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. After 20 minutes, watch carefully — chips are done when the edges start to dry and curl, and the color lightens.
One Last Word
Eating beets can temporarily turn urine and stool red or pink in a small percentage of people. The condition, called beeturia, is caused by unmetabolized pigments. This surprising but harmless side effect should not inhibit your consumption of beets.
If you’d like to broaden your palate with a variety of healthful foods, here are four other foods to try.