Can you eat beet leaves cooked or raw?

Can you eat beet leaves? How eat raw beet greens safely?

Beetroots are nutrient-rich. They are packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. We know about beetroot…

But, can you eat beet leaves? Yes, we can eat beet leaves either cooked, or raw.

Above all we have to wash them thoroughly with a simple homemade solution to kill any pathogen.

Health benefits of beet greens

Firstly, beetroots and beet greens are rich in polyphenols. Polyphenols are powerful phytochemicals, that have potent antioxidant properties.

Most noteworthy, polyphenols of beet greens can help you prevent inflammation.

Chronic inflammation is the reason for many diseases, such as cancer.

Moreover, beet leaves are low in calories, high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

For instance, beet leaves are particularly rich in iron. You can find more about the nutrient content of beetroots and beet greens here.

Moreover, beets can promote athletic performance, as they are particularly rich in nitrates.

More about the health and athletic benefits of beets here.

Can you eat beet leaves?

Yes, beet leaves are edible.

You can steam cook them. Just for a couple of minutes. Until the stems are soft enough.

Moreover, you can add the simplest dressing: lemon juice with extra virgin olive oil. Just sprinkle on top.

Lemon juice is particularly rich in vitamin C, while olive oil is rich in unique polyphenols. The combination is a health-promoting food.

Furthermore, beet leaves are rich in iron. The vitamin C from lemon juice will help absorb more iron.

Whenever you can, consume at least one food rich in vitamin C, in your meal.  For instance, citrus fruitspepperscauliflower, and broccoli are the richest in vitamin C common foods.

The beet greens contain about 2.57 mg of iron. Beetroot contains only 0.8 mg.

Just remember… Beet leaves contain more iron than beetroots…

How to cook properly beet leaves?

You better avoid boiling beet leaves. This way nutrients will leach in the water.

We want to prevent nutrient loss.

Hence, it’s a better strategy to steam the beet leaves. There is no need to buy a food steamer.

Just put a stainless steel steamer insert in your pot. Put some water and let it boil. Put the lid on the pot.

Let the steam cook beet leaves for a few minutes. They’re ready when you can easily pierce the stem with a fork.

This way, nutrients won’t be lost.

Cut the beet leaves, add lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil. It’s a super healthy meal.

Prefer:

  • olive oil, as it’s rich in polyphenols, with astonishing health benefits
  • flaxseed oil, as it’s the best source of plant-based ALA. A type of healthful omega-3s.

Avoid, other vegetable oils such as canola oil or sunflower oil.

Moreover, you can enjoy your steamed beet leaves with multi-seed bread. Seeds are packed with rare minerals, such as zinc.

Can you eat beet leaves raw?

What about consuming beet leaves raw instead? Are there any health dangers?

Certainly, beet greens aren’t poisonous.

Beet leaves can be a substitute for lettuce or spinach in almost any recipe.

For instance, you can put them in green smoothies. You can try beet greens, instead of spinach, or kale.

But washing isn’t safe enough…

Are raw vegetables safe?

Raw vegetables aren’t always safe to be eaten. The reason is the microbial pathogens.

Fresh veggies can be contaminated by these pathogens.

Escherichia coli and Salmonella are the most known. Research has shown that they can cause loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, cramps, fever, diarrhea, headache, weight loss, fever, or fatigue.

It’s important to understand that plants don’t produce these pathogens.

Scientists from the University of Georgia, Department of Food Science and Technology researched the sources of pathogenic microorganisms.

Plants are getting contaminated with pathogenic microorganisms:

  • while growing in fields,
  • during harvesting,
  • postharvest handling,
  • processing, or
  • distribution.

The main sources of pathogenic microorganisms are:

  • feces,
  • soil,
  • irrigation water,
  • inadequately composted manure,
  • air,
  • wild and domestic animals, and
  • human handling

So, can you eat beet leaves raw?

Yes, it’s safe to eat raw vegetables. But you have to be 100% sure that they have been washed thoroughly.

Eat salads only to restaurants that you trust.

At your home, it’s a good practice to put your vegetables in water, along with some vinegar. Just for some minutes.

Vinegar, salt & warm water to fight pathogens

Vinegar has antibacterial action, inhibiting bacterial growth.

In a study, scientists combined the use of vinegar and sodium chloride (salt). This solution was effective for the prevention of bacterial poisoning.

Another study measured the effectiveness of vinegar against bacteria, such as Escherichia coli.

Researchers found that the antibacterial action of vinegar depends on:

  • the presence of sodium chloride (the common salt) and
  • temperature.

When scientists used 2.5% acetic acid (vinegar) at 20 °C, they had to wait for 739 min for the inactivation of pathogens.

This time shortened to 5.27 min by just adding 5% sodium chloride (salt).

Amazing… Just by adding salt, the time shortened to 1/140.

The results were even more astonishing when scientists used warm water.

Only with the use of 2.5% vinegar and warm water at 40 oC, the inactivation time was just 14.4 min. Less than a quarter of an hour…

What happened when scientists combined vinegar, salt, and warm water?

The inactivation time was only 0.89 min… Less than a minute…

Practically

Firstly, wash thoroughly your veggies. Secondly, just to be sure, put your beet leaves or any other greens into warm water. Add vinegar and salt. Let them in this solution for a couple of minutes.