Beets are excellent dietary sources of iron. Raw, cooked, and pickled beet roots contain up to 0.8 mg of iron per 100g. Beet greens have a much higher iron content, though! They have almost 3 times more iron, as compared to beet roots!
Health benefits of iron
Iron is necessary for good health. It’s a key component of hemoglobin; a protein of red blood cells that transfers oxygen from the lungs to the tissues.
Additionally, iron is vital for muscle metabolism and healthy connective tissue. Also, it’s involved in energy metabolism, cellular functioning, physical growth, neurological development, and the synthesis of some hormones, amino acids, and collagen.[1,2]
But, iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency worldwide! It may lead to serious side effects, such as gastrointestinal disturbances, impaired cognition, weakened immune function, fatigue, and low body temperature. Moreover, iron deficiency during pregnancy may increase the risk of premature delivery, and miscarriage.
How much iron do we need a day?
The recommended daily intake of iron is 18 mg for women and 8 mg for men. Women require much higher doses due to menstruation period.
Pregnant women require even higher dosages of 27 mg a day.
On the other hand, women older than 51 years require only 8 mg of iron a day.
Therefore, it may be tricky for women of reproductive age and pregnant women to get the recommended iron intakes from their diet. They may benefit from taking a dietary supplement. You’ll find a wide variety of iron supplements on iHerb.
How much iron is in beet root?
Beets have a moderate iron content. They contain about 0.8 mg of iron per 100g.
A medium beet root contains about 0.66 mg of iron, or 3.6% of the recommended daily intake.
A cup contains 1.1 mg of iron or more than 6% DV (Daily Value).
The cooking method doesn’t significantly affect the iron content of beets. But, as the iron of beet root can leach into the water, better avoid peeling it or cutting it into pieces before cooking. Moreover, you better use an iron pot for cooking beets, rather than any Teflon coated non-stick pot.[6,7]
Are pickled beets rich in iron?
Pickled beets contain half of the iron content of raw or cooked beets. They contain only 0.41 mg of iron per 100g.
Hence, pickled beets don’t help meet our daily iron needs. In fact, better avoid consuming too many pickled products. Overconsumption of pickled products can be bad for health. For instance, they may lead to obesity, high blood pressure, and even certain cancers, such as esophageal cancer.[8,9]
Beet greens are high in iron
Not only beet greens are edible, but also, they’ve a great nutritional value. Actually, beet greens are particularly high in iron. They contain 2.57 mg of iron per 100g, or more than 14% DV.
Just a small serving of beet greens provides almost 1 mg or iron, or 5% DV.
Cooking doesn’t significantly affect the iron content of beet greens. Prefer steaming rather than boiling them, though. More nutrients leach into the water during boiling.
Is beet juice a good dietary source of iron?
Beet juice can help meet our daily iron needs as well. It contains 0.57 mg of iron per 100 mL.
An 8 fl oz serving of beet juice provides about 1.4 mg of iron, or almost 8% DV.
Keep in mind that beet juice contains less sugar than most fruit juices. Also, it has decent amounts of fiber.
You can find 100% organic beet juices, powders, and supplements on Amazon.
Do we absorb iron of beets?
Furthermore, we absorb only a small percentage of iron of beet roots or beet greens. Actually, iron of all plant-based foods isn’t easily absorbed. It’s estimated that the bioavailability of nonheme iron (iron in plants) is only between 5% and 12%.
On the other hand, we absorb about 14-18% of iron from animal-based foods.
Other foods high in iron
Common foods high in iron are meat, poultry, fish, eggs, whole grains, legumes, as well as certain fruits and vegetables.
Spinach, kale, potatoes, chocolate, and certainly, beans are among the richest common foods in iron!
Actually, there are many plant-based foods containing decent amounts of iron, which can help us meet our daily needs. For instance, a serving of cabbage provides about 2.5% of the recommended daily intake.
Certain fruit juices, such as prune and raspberry juices, are particularly rich in iron as well.