Golden Beets vs Red Beets: A Dietitian’s Analysis!

Golden beets vs red beets: two sides of the same coin, or so it seems. At first glance, they’re just colorful root veggies that jazz up our plates. But dive a bit deeper, and you’ll find some differences between these earthy treasures.

Golden beets, with their sunny appearance, bring a sweet twist to the table, making them a favorite for those who prefer a gentler, less earthy flavor. They slide effortlessly into a range of dishes, brightening up both the palette and the plate.

Red beets, in contrast, pack a more earthy punch. Their rich, deep color and robust flavor make them a standout ingredient, capable of adding depth and intensity to any dish.

But it’s not just about taste. When it comes to health, both have their merits. So, as we delve into the golden vs. red beet debate, keep an eye out for what matters most to you.

red beets and golden beets.

Nutritional Profile Comparison

When comparing the nutritional profiles of golden and red beets, both varieties emerge as highly nutritious, packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber. However, subtle differences in their nutrient content can influence your choice depending on your dietary needs.

Here are the nutrition facts for golden and red beets based on a 100 gram serving of each.

Nutrition FactsGolden BeetsRed Beets
Calories43 kcal (2% DV)43 kcal (2% DV)
Protein1.6 g (3.2% DV)1.6 g (3.2% DV)
Carbohydrates9.8 g (3.6% DV)9.6 g (3.5% DV)
Dietary Fiber2.8 g (11% DV)2.8 g (11% DV)
Sugars7 g6.8 g
Fat0.2 g(<1% DV)0.2 g (<1% DV)
Saturated Fat0.03 g (<1% DV)0.03 g (<1% DV)
Sodium78 mg (3% DV)78 mg (3% DV)
Potassium305 mg (6.5% DV)325 mg (7% DV)
Vitamin C4.9 mg (5.4% DV)4.9 mg (5.4% DV)
Folate109 ug (27% DV)109 ug (27% DV)
Vitamin A1 IU (<1% DV)2 IU (<1% DV)
Calcium16 mg (1.6% DV)16 mg (1.6% DV)
Iron0.8 mg (4.4% DV)0.8 mg (4.4% DV)
Magnesium23 mg (5.5% DV)23 mg (5.5% DV)
Golden Beets vs Red Beets

Now if you’re looking at this nutrition facts panel and thinking I don’t see any differences.  Well you’re right!

Both types of beets are great sources of fiber at 2.8 grams per serving, and they also have a good dose of folate!

There are few if any differences in the nutrition content of golden beets vs red beets, so that likely wouldn’t be a determining factor in choosing between the two.  While we’re looking at the nutrition facts panel we should talk about the health benefits too.

Health Benefits of Beets

Beets, whether golden or red, are packed with vitamins, minerals, and plant compounds that have been linked to various health benefits. While both types share many nutritional benefits, there are subtle differences that might make one type more appealing depending on your dietary needs or health goals. 

Here are five key health benefits of incorporating beets into your diet.

red beets and golden beets cut up on a plate.

Rich in Nutrients and Low in Calories

Both golden and red beets are nutrient-dense yet low in calories, making them a great addition to any diet. They provide a good source of fiber, folate (vitamin B9), manganese, potassium, iron, and vitamin C. This combination of nutrients helps support the body’s overall health, including immune function, energy production, and more.

Support Heart Health

Beets are high in dietary nitrates, which your body converts into nitric oxide. Nitric oxide helps to relax and dilate blood vessels, improving blood flow and lowering blood pressure. This effect is beneficial for heart health, potentially reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke. Both golden and red beets contain these nitrates, making them equally beneficial for supporting cardiovascular health.

Anti-inflammatory Properties

The pigments that give red beets their color, known as betalains, have been studied for their anti-inflammatory properties. While golden beets contain less betalain, they still offer anti-inflammatory benefits through other compounds. Including both types of beets in your diet can help combat inflammation, which is linked to a number of chronic diseases.

Antioxidant Rich

Both golden and red beets are rich in antioxidants, which help fight oxidative stress and may reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer. Red beets are particularly noted for their high levels of betalains, which have potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory capabilities. Golden beets, while lower in betalains, still offer a variety of antioxidants, making both types a healthy choice.

Support Digestive Health

The fiber in both golden and red beets can benefit your digestive system. Fiber helps to keep your digestive system running smoothly, preventing constipation and promoting a healthy gut microbiome. Regular consumption of beets can contribute to your daily fiber intake, supporting overall digestive health.

Enhance Athletic Performance

Beets are known for their ability to enhance athletic performance due to their high nitrate content. These dietary nitrates improve efficiency in the body’s mitochondria, where energy is produced, and enhance oxygen use during physical activity. This can lead to improved stamina and performance in endurance activities. Both golden and red beets can be beneficial for athletes looking to improve their performance naturally.

May Improve Cognitive Function

Beets may also play a role in improving cognitive function. The high levels of nitrates found in both golden and red beets can help increase blood flow to the brain, which is linked to improved cognitive function, especially in older adults. 

This enhanced blood flow can contribute to better brain function, potentially reducing the risk of dementia and other cognitive declines. The conversion of nitrates into nitric oxide not only benefits physical performance and heart health but also supports the health of the brain by improving oxygenation and nutrient delivery to brain tissues. 

Including beets in your diet could, therefore, be a simple and natural way to support brain health and cognitive performance over time.

The Verdict Based on Health Benefits:

So which one is best after reading all the health benefits? Golden best vs red beets in terms of health benefits is essentially a tie, they have almost the exact same health benefits!

The only one that would win in terms of health benefits would be red beets. Red beets have a higher antioxidant content based on their deep red colour, meaning they’re rich in anthocyanin.

So if you want to make your decision based on health benefits, there’s a slight heavier tip towards red beets. But not by much.

Potential Downsides of Golden and Red Beets

While beets offer numerous health benefits, there are a few potential downsides to consider when incorporating them into your diet. These effects are generally mild and can often be managed with moderation and proper preparation. 

Here are some potential health effects associated with consuming golden and red beets.

Beeturia

Consuming beets can cause beeturia, a condition where urine turns pink or red, which can be alarming to some people. This effect is harmless and is caused by the natural pigments in beets, known as betalains. 

Beeturia is more common after consuming red beets due to their higher betalain content, but it can occur with golden beets as well.

Kidney Stones

Beets are high in oxalates, compounds that can contribute to the formation of kidney stones in susceptible individuals. People with a history of oxalate kidney stones may need to limit their intake of beets to avoid exacerbating this condition. Both golden and red beets contain oxalates, so moderation is key for those at risk.

Gastrointestinal Discomfort

The high fiber content in beets is beneficial for digestive health, but it can also cause gastrointestinal discomfort in some people, especially when consumed in large amounts. Symptoms may include bloating, gas, and cramping. 

This is typically related just to the high fiber concentration.  Most people don’t need to worry about this if they’re eating less than 28 grams of fiber per day.

Blood Sugar Levels

Beets have a glycemic index (GI) of 64, this makes them fall into the medium GI category.  Individuals largely don’t need to worry about eating beets, but if you want to lower it’s effect on blood sugars pair it with a high protein food.  This can help to lower it’s effect on blood sugars!

If you want a full breakdown of its GI profile, check out Glycemic Index of Beets: A Dietitian’s Breakdown here!

The Verdict Based on Downsides:

Both types of beets will have the same downsides, so the verdict here is that determining red beets vs golden beets downside, it’s a tie. Neither one has more downsides.

Culinary Uses and Flavour Profiles

Golden and red beets each bring their unique flavours and textures to the table, influencing how they’re best used in culinary creations. 

Golden beets are celebrated for their milder, sweeter taste, making them a perfect addition to salads, smoothies, and light dishes where their subtle flavour can shine. 

Their smoother texture also lends itself well to purees or as a naturally sweet component in baked goods. The less intense flavor of golden beets allows them to blend seamlessly into a variety of dishes without overpowering other ingredients.

Red beets, with their robust, earthy flavor, are ideal for dishes that can handle a stronger taste profile. They are a staple in hearty soups like borscht, roasted vegetable medleys, and pickled preparations. 

The deep color of red beets adds a visually striking element to dishes, making them a favourite for adding vibrancy and depth of flavour.

Experimenting with both golden and red beets in the kitchen can lead to delightful discoveries. Whether you’re roasting, boiling, or incorporating them raw into dishes, these versatile vegetables can enhance your culinary repertoire with their unique tastes and nutritional benefits.

Delicious Beet Recipes!

Here are some of my favourite ways to prepare beets, and they’re super healthy too!

Walnut Feta Beetroot Salad!

Easy Beetroot Broccoli Salad with a Sweet Maple Dressing!

Preparation and Storage Tips

Beets thankfully are a very long lasting root vegetable that can stay in your fridge before cooked for a long time.  The key is to keep them cool and dry though.

To store beets effectively, remove the greens, leaving about an inch of stem to prevent the roots from bleeding their color during cooking. 

Store the beets in a plastic bag with a slight opening for air circulation in the refrigerator, where they can last for up to 2 weeks. The greens, rich in nutrients themselves, should be stored separately in a damp paper towel and used within a few days.

Before cooking, thoroughly wash the beets under running water to remove any dirt. Minimize peeling to preserve the nutrients and vibrant colors of the beets. I like to use a vegetable brush to scrub the beets before I dry them and put them in the fridge.

Make sure that they are thoroughly dried with a paper towel.  I don’t recommend using your dish towels to dry them because they will stain red with red beets.

Cooking methods like roasting, boiling, and steaming can enhance their natural sweetness and texture. For instance, roasting golden and red beets can intensify their flavors, making them a delicious side dish or salad ingredient.  But once you cook them, they will only last in your fridge for 2-3 days before I’d toss them.

If you want to freeze them I’d recommend repeating the same process as above in preparing them for the fridge.  But I would cook them by boiling them for up to 20-25 minutes.  Allow them to cool in the fridge for a few hours.  Then dry them, and put them in a freezer safe container.  They can stay for up to 6 months.  But note that the quality of them may decrease over time.  

If you want to can them, I’d recommend looking at the University of Michigan’s Guide to Using, Storing and Preserving Beets here.

Remember, red beets can stain your hands and surfaces, so wearing gloves and using a dedicated cutting board can help manage this. By following these preparation and storage tips, you can enjoy the full spectrum of tastes and health benefits offered by golden and red beets, making them a staple in your diet.

Final Thoughts

Choosing between golden beets vs red beets it ultimately comes down to personal preference and dietary goals. My personal preference is red beets, as I like their rich earthy flavour better than golden beets. But I don’t make this choice based on health benefits, because they’re basically the same.

Both golden and red beets are versatile, nutrient-packed vegetables that can enhance the flavor and nutritional value of your meals. Whether you prefer the sweeter, milder taste of golden beets or the robust, earthy flavor of red beets, incorporating these vegetables into your diet can offer a range of health benefits, from improved heart health to enhanced athletic performance.

Experiment with different preparation methods—like roasting, boiling, or raw applications—to discover how each variety can best complement your meals. 

Remember, the key to enjoying beets is in their freshness and how they’re prepared, so don’t shy away from trying new recipes that showcase their unique flavors and textures.

Incorporating golden and red beets into your diet is a delicious way to boost your intake of essential nutrients while adding color and variety to your plate. Whether you’re crafting a vibrant salad, a nourishing smoothie, or a hearty side dish, beets are a versatile ingredient that can support your health and culinary creativity.

2 thoughts on “Golden Beets vs Red Beets: A Dietitian’s Analysis!”

  1. Thanks for the info. Growing up in the Caribbean, we had carrot juice on Sundays. My mom would also juice a small amount of beets with carrots.
    I am juicing beets today to help with my Neuropathy and Arthritis. Hope it helps!😋🌺

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