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Beets are both sweet and earthy tasting that pair well with other root vegetables as well as tangy-sweet fruits like pineapple.

Beets range in color from white to yellow to red. There’s even one variety, known as the Chioggia beet, which has red and white concentric rings.

Beets are related botanically to spinach.

One variety of beets is known as the spinach, or leaf beet. It is grown for its greens, which are actually more nutritious than the root itself.

Beets are available throughout the year, but their season runs from June through October when the youngest, most tender beets are easiest to find.

Beets are exceptional sources of essential vitamins and minerals. They are rich in calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, vitamin C, thiamin, riboflavin, vitamin A and vitamin K.

When shopping for fresh beets, choose smaller beets over larger, tougher beets, and pass over any beets that are cracked, shriveled or look very dry.

Beets should be cooked with their peel on to preserve nutrients and to prevent their deep red color from leaking out, which turns them brown, making them unappetizing in appearance.

You should also leave about half an inch of the stem on while cooking so that the pigment doesn’t leak out of the top.

The beet contains powerful nutrient compounds that help protect against heart disease, birth defects and certain cancers, especially colon cancer.

Beets have twice as much natural sugar as corn, carrots or tomatoes. Their sweetness reflects their high sugar content, which makes beets an important source of refined sugar. Raw beet roots have a crunchy texture that turns soft and buttery when they are cooked. Beet leaves have a lively, bitter taste similar to chard.