Beetroot is an interesting food. It comes from the same family as spinach and chard and while it’s a root vegetable, it is quite high in sugars. This means that Paleo community is rather divided on whether or not you can, or should, eat beets as part of the Paleo diet.
On paper, beetroot is a Paleo food. It’s a root vegetable and it contains a lot of important nutrients. However, the carbohydrate issue divides Paleo diet followers. The Paleo diet is not necessarily a low-carb diet and sugars are not completely forbidden either, but it is sensible to favour high-fibre foods as much as possible and if you have a choice between starches and sugars, take the starch. By that logic, beets are not ideal.
Beets Are Low-Carb, But High Sugar
The average beet contains half the carbohydrates of the same amount of sweet potatoes, but most of those carbohydrates come in the form of sugar. So if you’re concerned about your insulin sensitivity or you’re trying to lose weight, eating beetroot is not a good idea.
Before you cross beets off your shopping list, think for a moment about what you plan to replace them with. There’s no sense in forcing yourself to follow a perfect diet of only healthy foods if that means depriving yourself of almost everything you enjoy. Beets are a nutritious food and they are a far better choice than the processed things that most people eat day in, day out, so why not treat yourself from time to time?
The Benefits of Beetroot
Beetroot is a good source of magnesium, potassium and vitamin C and is rich in antioxidants. It also contains calcium, iron, manganese and selenium, as well as betaine, an important nutrient which can protect you from heart disease and liver problems. The antioxidants in beets help to fight the effects of aging, while the calcium is good for your teeth and bones and the iron is good for your cardiovascular system.
Beets are not the only source of those nutrients (although sugar beets are the primary source of betaines), but beets are a tasty and versatile way of getting them. Given the range of recipes which include beets, from dips and salads to sweets, it’s easy to understand why this root vegetable is so popular. You can roast beets, steam them, boil them or eat them raw and each way of cooking them produces a slightly different taste and texture. What better way to jazz up your diet?
The Diet Question
So do beets belong in the Paleo diet? There really is no right or wrong answer to that question. If you’re overweight or have a problem with insulin sensitivity then you should stick to sweet potatoes. If you aren’t watching your weight and you want to spice up your diet a little bit, then eating beets in moderation won’t do you any harm. Just remember to vary your food intake and enjoy swedes, carrots, sweet potatoes and parsnips occasionally too.