Unusually Comprehensive Nourishment
As mentioned earlier in this profile, beet greens achieve 20 rankings of excellent, very good, or good in our WHFoods rating system. These results place beet greens among our Top 10 ranked foods. Equally important, no major category of nutrients is left out of these high ratings. In the macronutrient category, beet greens are an excellent source of fiber and a very good source of protein. In the vitamin category, they are an excellent source of both fat-soluble vitamins like vitamins A and K, as well as water-soluble vitamins like vitamins C and B2. In the mineral category, they are an excellent source of 5 minerals, including copper, potassium, manganese, magnesium, and calcium. In fact, when beet greens are compared with two other common dark green leafy vegetables (DGLV)—turnip greens and mustard greens—only beet greens provide excellent amounts of both calcium and magnesium. While all three of these DGLVs provide excellent amounts of calcium, only beet greens also provide an excellent amount of magnesium at 98 milligrams per serving, or nearly 25% of the recommended daily amount. This unique aspect of beet greens gives them a calcium:magnesium ratio of 1.6:1, in comparison to the ratio in turnip greens of 6.2:1, or the ratio in mustard greens of 9.2:1. The ratio in beet greens may be more helpful to the average U.S. adult than the ratio in these other greens, since the average U.S. adult is more deficient in magnesium than calcium.
In the phytonutrient category, beet greens show special benefits in the area of carotenoid richness. We rank them as an excellent source of vitamin A due to their rich concentration of beta-carotene and lutein. Beet greens have been shown to be a major contributor in many diets to total intake of the carotenoids lutein and beta-carotene. While not as concentrated in lutein as collard greens or spinach, beet greens have nevertheless been shown to be an outstanding source of this key carotenoid. Lutein is known to play an especially important role in eye health, including the health of the retina.
Other Health Benefits
Unfortunately, few studies have tried to separate out health benefits specific to beet greens from health benefits associated with intake of dark green leafy vegetables (DGLVs) as a group. Without question, increased intake of DGLVs has been associated in large-scale, epidemiologic studies with lower risk of certain chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and stroke. Based on the most recent report from the World Cancer Research Fund and American Institute for Cancer Research (WCFR/AICR), we also believe there is evidence in support of decreased risk of certain cancers following generous intake of DGLVs. While we fully expect to see these health benefits coming from intake of beet greens as such, we also look forward to future research where beet green intake is analyzed independently from intake of other DGLVs.