Are beet leaves toxic?
Poisonous plants can pack punch. Last week I told you that certain vegetable plants have edible leaves and stems — like carrot tops and beet greens. Leaves and roots contain high concentrations of oxalic acid known to cause stomach irritation and kidney problems.
Here's a tip: when you're washing and peeling the beets, and you trim off the green leafy tops, don't toss them away! The greens and the stems are edible, and make a great substitute for any green such as spinach, swiss chard, and bok choy. They can be steamed, sauteed, braised, added to soups, and eaten raw.
- Cooking and Storage. Cook them by sauteing, similar to spinach, or use them raw in salads to derive the most nutritional value from beet greens. Look for fresh, crisp-looking leaves and avoid wilted or damaged leaves.
- Although juicing the beet removes its fiber, you can boost the nutritional content of your juice by including the stem and greens. Beet greens are an excellent source of calcium, iron, and vitamins A and C. Juicing one beetroot with its stem and leaves yields almost 2 ounces, or about 50 milliliters, of juice.
- We slice our beets and roast them with a little olive oil and salt. If the ends of the beet are a mess it is easy enough to slice a little off, but peel on is the way to go. This is one vegetable that looks much prettier with the skin on.
Enjoy beet greens by themselves as a salad or with other leafy vegetables, or sauté them in a bit of olive oil or balsamic vinegar and salt for a delicious side dish. Here's a great tip: if you find yourself with too many beet greens, don't throw them away. Freeze them and use for soup stock.
- If you want to know when to plant beets, it's best to plant them during cool weather. They grow well in cool temperatures in spring and fall and do poorly in hot weather. When growing beets, plant the seeds 1 to 2 inches apart in the row. Cover the seeds lightly with loose soil, and then sprinkle it with water.
- Chard -- sometimes called Swiss chard or rainbow chard (when it sports brightly colored stalks) -- really is a relative of the beet. But unlike traditional beets -- which put their energy into producing finger-staining roots, chard instead produces big, tender leaves and crunchy stalks.
- Kale and rocket have more calcium than spinach but spinach has more iron (although not terribly well absorbed). There are, however, a handful of nutrients for which kale is a standout. Kale is a far greater source of Vitamin C and Vitamin K compared to spinach and rocket.
Health Benefits of Beet Greens. Besides supplying good amounts of protein, phosphorus, and zinc, beet greens are also a great source of fiber. Packed with antioxidants, they're high in vitamin B6, magnesium, potassium, copper, and manganese, and low in fat and cholesterol.
- Poisonous plants can pack punch. Last week I told you that certain vegetable plants have edible leaves and stems — like carrot tops and beet greens. Leaves and roots contain high concentrations of oxalic acid known to cause stomach irritation and kidney problems.
- Whether they're grated or thinly shaved, beets are wonderful to eat raw — you get much more of that sweet flavor than when it's cooked. But it doesn't have to be all about beet salads — we've got recipes that re-imagine beets as finger sandwiches and ravioli. See all the unique ways to eat raw beets in the slideshow.
- Beet greens are an excellent source of vitamin K, vitamin A (in the form of carotenoids), vitamin C, copper, potassium, manganese, vitamin B2, magnesium, vitamin E, fiber and calcium. They are a very good source of iron, vitamins B1, B6, and pantothenic acid, as well as phosphorus and protein.
Updated: 6th October 2019