Beets are native to the shores of North Africa, Europe and the Middle East; they were first cultivated by the ancient Romans. In the 19th century, when it was found that beets could be converted into sugar, the crop’s commercial value significantly grew. Beets are a member of the Amaranthaceae family, along with chard, quinoa and spinach. This root vegetable comes in an array of colors, including: deep red, red and white striped, orange, golden yellow and purple.
- Betanin is the pigment that gives beets their deep purple-red color; it is known for its cancer-fighting properties.
- Beet juice can be used as a natural dye!
- Beet greens are also edible.
- Beet leaves are an excellent source of potassium and a good source of vitamin B9 (folic acid) and the mineral magnesium.
- Beet roots are an excellent source of vitamin A and the mineral potassium; they are a good source of vitamin C, B2 (riboflavin) and magnesium.