I have written many times about the benefits of beet and beet juice. However, not everyone is a fan. Aside from the earthy flavor, staining fingernails and bento-boxes are among the many reasons why this superfood is not frequently enjoyed.
Well, the red beet actually has a relative that has similar health benefits, does not stain and most people think it tastes better!
Introducing Superfood: Golden Beet
Nutritional data (1 cup cooked)
- Calories: 58
- Protein: 2 g
- Carb: 13 g
- Fiber 3 g
- Fat: 0
- Potassium: 442 mg
Nutritionally, the golden beet is quite similar to that of red beets. They have similar carbohydrate, fat and protein content and both are equally packed with potassium, a blood pressure-lowering mineral. But there are also some differences beyond basic nutrition. For starters, golden beets are sweeter in taste, and less earthy in flavor. For those who do not like the taste of red beets, there’s a good chance that they may enjoy golden beets. The main nutritional difference between the two are the pigments.
Different Pigments, Same Power
The pigments that give beets their rich colors is a type of antioxidant called betalains. There are two basic types of betalains: betacyanins and betaxanthins. The red beet contains betacyanins pigments; the golden beets contain betaxanthins. In general terms, dark-colored beets contain mostly betacyanins and yellow beets contain mostly betaxanthins. Despite a difference in structure, both betalains function both as antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents.
Golden Beetroot Also Offers Nitrates
One of the main benefits of red beets is its high level of nitrates. It has been documented that nitrates in beets can act to enhance sports performance as well as lower blood pressure. The good news is that despite the color difference, golden beets also contain a similar level of nitrates. Whichever beet you choose, you will not lose out on health benefits of nitrates.
What’s unique in golden beets is the other nutrients commonly found in other yellow and orange vegetables. Vitamin C, Vitamin A, beta-carotene, flavonoid and zeaxanthin are also present in golden beets.
Promising Benefits of Eating Beets
While the benefits include lowering blood pressure and preventing dementia, the most talked bout health benefit of beets is its potential for athletic performance. A 2012 published study revealed that eating 200 grams of baked beets improved running performance and the average running speed in the last mile was 5% faster. Another 2011 study showed the effects of drinking 2 cups of beetroot juice on cycling performance also found similar improvement. Results showed that the average 4-km time trial was improved by 2.8% while the 16.1-km time was improved by 2.7%
How to Prepare and Cook Golden Beetroot
Golden beets are much easier to peel and creates less of a mess than the red varieties. Alternately, I always cook it with the skin on, and then peel after it’s cooked; it’s much easier than peeling when raw.
Both betalain pigments in beets are water-soluble so I do not recommend boiling them. Either steam or bake beets whole to preserve as much nutrient as possible.
- To bake, set your oven to 375F (195C), wash your beets and then wrap them in aluminum foil. Depending on size, bake them whole for 45 to 60 mins.
- To steam, set temperature (stove or steamer) to high. Wash and steam with skin on for 15 minutes. Poke beets with a fork to check doneness.
In addition, you can juice golden beets in a blender just like you can with red beets.
Gloria Tsang is the author of 5 books and the founder of HealthCastle.com, the largest online nutrition network run by registered dietitians. Her work has appeared in major national publications, and she is a regularly featured nutrition expert for media outlets across the country. The Huffington Post named her one of its Top 20 Nutrition Experts on Twitter. Gloria’s articles have appeared on various media such as Reuters, NBC & ABC affiliates, The Chicago Sun-Times, Reader’s Digest Canada, iVillage and USA Today.