Care of Andrea Gourgy

Beets should be on everyone’s shopping list this season—they are economical, versatile and offer an abundance of nutritional benefits. Also known as beetroot, beets date as far back as Roman times, but it wasn’t until the 16th century that they became widely popular. In fact, they were originally cultivated for their leaves (or greens), which can be used on their own in dishes ranging from salads, soups and smoothies.

Beets are abundant in phytonutrients, specifically anthocyanins which are responsible for their deep red colour. Anthocyanins are involved in the repair of DNA in the body, and are being studied for their role in cancer and heart disease prevention. Beets are a good source of iron, magnesium and folate. Beet greens in particular are rich in carotenoids, like beta carotene and lutein which have been shown to be key nutrients in chronic disease prevention.

Most people are familiar with red beets, but they can also be found in yellow (golden) and white. Look for small or medium-sized beets (they are more tender), and check for firmness and smooth skin. The greens should be removed before storing beets, and they can last about three weeks in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.