Carbohydrates or carbs are getting a bad rep these days because everyone is attempting to reduce their carb intake, yet they are needed to fuel us with energy. Just like any sweet foods, the carbs in beets can be bad for you, but they are full of nutrients which can be a bit redeeming.
My fascination in beets started when I discovered how delicious and nutritious they are. However, when I learned that beets are rich in carbohydrates, it made me want to determine if they are good or bad. Know what I discovered by continue reading below.
Good vs Bad Carbs
Carbohydrates are classified as either simple or complex. Simple carbs (bad carbs) can be digested immediately while complex carbs (good carbs) take longer to digest. One example of bad carbs that you should avoid is refined carbs, like soda, cakes, and candies.
Fruits and certain vegetables are often classified as simple carbs because they are naturally sweet, but they are redeemed with their loaded vitamins making them healthy.
Since beets are naturally sweet, they can be considered as a bad carb, but their nutrients make them good choices as compared to refined carbs which should be avoided.
In other words, beets are bad carbs because of their sugar but they are natural and nutrient-filled, making them still a good choice for diet.
Beets and Simple Carbs
Carbohydrates are composed of three elements: fiber, starch, and sugar. Complex carbs are made of fiber and starch while simple carbs are made of sugar.
Simple carbs are generally added to foods because they’re basically sugar. Fruits and vegetables like beets are actually simple carbs but they are quite distinct from refined foods.
The fiber found in beets modifies the way they’re processed in the body. Since they slow down the digestion a bit, they seem to act more like a complex carbohydrate.
Although simple carbs may face a bad rep of being high in sugar, they’re actually more useful than complex carbs when it comes to physical activity.
You need them to substantiate you with energy before and after a strenuous activity, like exercise and sports. Just make sure that you consume the healthy alternatives of carbs like fruits and vegetables rather than those processed foods.
Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load
Another way to determine the goodness and badness of carbohydrates is a new concept known as [glycemic index (GI).
- Glycemic Index
This index informs you how high can the food increase your blood sugar levels after eating it. GI values are categorized as high, medium, and low.
The foods that you need to avoid are those that belong to the high GI category because they cause a sharp increase in blood glucose levels which may lead to diabetes and high blood pressure.
The safest foods to consume are those that belong to the low GI category because they slowly increase blood sugar levels, preventing the yo-yo effect.
High GI has values 70 and up while medium GI falls between 56 to 69. On the other hand, low GI starts from 1 to 55. Beets has a GI value of 64, which makes it fall under the medium category. If you have issues in your blood glucose levels, consume beets moderately.
- Glycemic Load
One issue of GI values is that they won’t show the exact quantity of carbohydrate in a specific food. To solve this issue, researchers have created the new principle of glycemic load (GL), a numerical value that considers the food’s GI and amount of carbohydrate amount.
A food that has a high GI, but has only a small amount of carb won’t give that much of an effect. The raw red beets have a glycemic load of 5 which falls under the low category. This indicates that it shouldn’t have that big effect on blood glucose levels because it only contains a few carbs.
Why Beets Are Good For You
Beets are packed with vitamins and minerals, which still makes them a good choice in your diet despite being a simple sugar. Here are the reasons why beets are good for you.
- Increase your stamina
- Provide anti-inflammatory benefits
- Detoxify the body
- May reduce the risk of certain cancers
For your next workout, consider drinking beet juice before you exercise to boost your energy. People who take beet juice before exercising were able to endure 16% longer, according to Dr. Mercola. This increase in stamina may be associated to nitrates transforming into nitric oxide, which improve tolerance to strenuous activity.
The pphytonutrients found in beets are believed to reduce inflammation by restricting the activity of inflammatory messengers known as cyclo-oxygenase (COX) enzymes. These inflammatory messengers can worsen the conditions of certain types of heart disease and type 2 diabetes because they trigger inflammation more.
Another anti-inflammatory compound present in beets is the betaine, which is derived from the B vitamin, choline. Betaine fights inflammation by reducing the levels of inflammatory markers. Choline also helps control inflammation in the cardiovascular system.
Beets are rich in antioxidants that aids in the detoxification and cleansing of your body. The phytonutrient, betalain, found in beets aids in the detoxification process by triggering the enzyme activity that neutralizes and excretes the toxins out from the body.
Other nutrients like betaine and pectin also help in cleansing the body. Betaine assists the liver cells in excreting toxins out from the body. Meanwhile, pectin helps remove the toxins that have been eliminated from the liver.
The fusion of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds of beets make it an ideal food to minimize the risk of certain cancers. Research shows that cancer patients display a positive response to high concentrations of red beet. The fiber found in beet may also prevent colon cancer.
Selecting the Best Beet
You might possibly see beets all year round in the supermarkets, but the best time to buy them is during their peak season, which is from June to October. They don’t only taste better, but they also tend to be cheaper and have more nutrients.
When shopping for beets, look for those that still have their greens attached. It’s an indicator that what you’re buying is still fresh. You can also eat the greens because they’re edible and nutritious.
Watch more tips and facts about beets in this video.
However, if you can’t find beets with the greens, make sure that its tail is still intact. You should be buying beetroots that are nice, firm, and rich in color.
Avoid those that have bruises, patches, or soft, wet spots because all these signs represent spoilage. Wrinkled beets also indicate a fibrous, hard, and aged roots. The greens should have that fresh and brilliant color.
Preparing Beets for Storage and Cooking
To prepare the beets for storage, the World’s Healthiest Foods suggests cutting the greens off by leaving about two inches from the bulb.
If you leave the greens attached, they will suck out all the nutrients from the root making it go bad quickly. Remember not to throw the greens away because they can also be sauteed just like in this recipe here.
Without washing, place the beets and greens in separate plastic bags. Squeeze all the air out as possible, wrap it up, and place in the refrigerator. The greens will keep fresh for about four days while the roots may last up to three weeks.
Now, if you want to use the beets for cooking, simply rinse them under cold running water. Since red beets can stain, don’t forget to wear gloves. However, if you do the get the stain eventually, remove it by rubbing some lemon juice.
Different Ways of to Cook Beets
Now that we have established how nutritious beets are, let me suggest 3 ways on how to cook them easily.
1. Steam the Beets
The healthiest way to cook beets is to steam them for about 15 minutes. This can help maximize their taste and nutrition. Martha Stewart recommends steaming them with their skins on to maintain their brilliant color.
When cooked, they should be soft when pierced with a fork. Once they’re cool enough to hold, use paper towels to rub off the skin. You may serve it with a Mediterranean dressing or you can season them with vinegar, olive oil, and salt to store as a head start ingredient for your dishes throughout the week.
2. Roast the Beets
You can also roast the beets by tossing them together with the olive oil, thyme leaves, and seasonings on a baking sheet. Roast for about 35-40 minutes, turning occasionally with a spatula until they’re tender. Toss with the vinegar and orange juice after you remove them from the oven. You may check the entire recipe here.
3. Create a Beet Salad
Whisk vinegar, mustard, and oil to boiled and thinly sliced beets. Throw in some radishes and scallions into the mix and pour them over the lettuce-laid platter. Serve with parsley and enjoy this nutritious salad with your family. Get the full recipe here.
Try Eating Beets Today!
The carbs in beets may be classified as a simple or bad carbohydrate, but its nutrients and natural composition make them a good choice for your diet.
Although its glycemic index falls in the medium range, its glycemic load is low, this basically means eating beets is safe for your blood sugar in moderation. You need to consume beets occasionally to get a fair share of its phytonutrients.
Here is how you can prepare beets properly.
- Select the firm beets with fresh-looking greens.
- Cut the greens off and leave about 2 inches from the root before storing.
- Rinse the beets under cold running water before cooking.
- Cook beets in various ways: steam, roast, or toss into a salad.
Try your own beets recipe and let us know the results in the comments section below. If you find this article helpful, don’t hesitate to share it with your friends.