Beets may or may not be a food that’s on your radar. They’re a root vegetable that comes in a variety of colors but are most easily recognized as a beautiful magenta. Their earthy yet slightly sweet flavor pairs well with anything from salads to smoothies.
Beets also boast impressive nutritional content, making them a smart choice for inclusion in your diet during pregnancy.
Here’s more about beets, why they’re good for you, and how you can cook with them at home.
Beets are packed with vitamins and minerals and can be prepared in a number of delicious ways. Beyond their taste and nutritional value, they may also provide you and your baby with some additional health benefits.
Keep you regular
During pregnancy, hormones can make your digestion sluggish. Eating fiber-rich foods may help ward off pregnancy constipation by keeping you regular.
Beets are high in fiber: A single cup contains nearly 4 grams, which is about 14 percent of the daily recommendation of 28 grams. So, eat up to keep things moving!
May help prevent neural tube defects
During pregnancy, you should generally aim to get 400 micrograms of folate or folic acid each day, according to the
It’s difficult to get enough folate from diet alone. So, along with eating beets, you should also take a high-quality prenatal vitamin that contains folic acid or folate.
May help with anemia
Iron deficiency anemia may crop up during pregnancy and lead to symptoms like fatigue and weakness. That’s why experts recommend getting
While beets contain nowhere near the amount of iron as, say, a steak, they’re a good plant-based source of the mineral — great for vegetarians and vegans looking to boost their intake.
May prevent fetal growth restriction
Some researchers (funded by the UK-based pregnancy and baby charity Tommy’s) are looking at beets and their potential to prevent fetal growth restriction. How might this work?
Well, growth restriction is often caused by issues with the placenta. Blood flow across the placenta may be improved by the nitrates contained in beets. More research is needed to assess the usefulness of beets and nitrate supplementation in pregnancy.
May lower risk of preeclampsia
While beet juice alone didn’t lower blood pressure readings, a newer
Again, more research is needed in humans to assess this possible benefit.
Help maintain weight
“Eating for two” may not be advised during pregnancy. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) suggest getting an extra 340 calories per day starting in the second trimester if you’re carrying a single baby. That amount increases to 600 calories per day if you’re carrying twins.
Beets are a good addition to your diet because they’re packed with vitamin C, potassium, fiber, folate, manganese, and iron — all while being low in calories (70 per cup) and boasting an 87 percent water content.
There doesn’t appear to be any issues with eating beets while pregnant.
However, be aware that eating beets may make your urine and feces pink or red.
Let your doctor know if your urine or stools are frequently red/pink after eating beets. In some cases, it may be a sign you have an iron deficiency. In others, it may be for another reason that warrants further testing.
Beets are also high in sugar compared with other vegetables, so as with other foods in your diet, moderation is key.
You may also want to chat with your doctor if you’re prone to kidney stones. Beets — along with chocolate, spinach, nuts, rhubarb, and some teas — contain oxalate, which may lead to more stones.
Moderate consumption of these foods usually isn’t a problem, though.
You can find beets at most grocery stores or farmers’ markets. In raw form, they may look a little dirty and intimidating. Give them a good scrub and cut off the green stalks, leaving around an inch. Doing so will prevent them from “bleeding” everywhere during cooking.
To roast beets, preheat your oven to 400°F. Place scrubbed beets in foil or a baking dish and bake for 45 to 90 minutes, depending how many you roast at a time. Carefully remove them from the oven and then gently peel their skins off before slicing and eating.
If you’d rather not fire up the oven, you can also microwave beets. Simply put two to three small beets in a microwave-safe dish with a bit of water, then heat on high for 8 to 15 minutes (or until they’re soft). Be careful when removing them from the microwave — you don’t want to burn yourself!
If you have a juicer at home, you can juice a small beet with either apples or oranges to create a tasty beverage. You may also mix your juiced beet with 100 percent apple or orange juice.
Canned beets are another option if you’re low on time. Just be sure to rinse well or choose varieties that have low or no sodium to avoid too much added salt in your diet.
Some stores even sell packaged precooked beets in the produce section. You can add canned or precooked beets to salads, stir-fries, soups — or eat them on their own.
Yes! You can even toss beets into your daily smoothie. Chop fresh or softened beets into small pieces and combine them with your favorite fruits and veggies.
Megan Gilmore, recipe developer at Detoxinista, suggests the following recipe:
- 1/2 cup chopped beets (with skins)
- 1/2 inch fresh ginger, peeled
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 frozen banana
- 1 cup frozen strawberries
Blend in a high-powered blender until smooth and creamy.
Related: 14 must-try beet recipes
Researchers haven’t found a link between craving certain foods and baby’s sex chromosomes. Instead, they’ve determined that pregnant people tend to crave different foods depending on where they live and their culture.
The most reliable way to learn your baby’s sex is either at your anatomy ultrasound during weeks 18 to 22 or through a cell-free DNA screen (blood test) around week 9 or 10.
The ACOG generally suggests healthy weight gain in pregnancy, but this may be based on your weight before getting pregnant. Eating a diet with plenty of whole foods can help you reach this goal while providing your baby with optimal nutrition.
Try filling half of your plate with fresh fruits and vegetables, like beets, at mealtime. And check in with your doctor if you have any other questions regarding what to eat during your pregnancy.