Beet greens are young, leafy tops of the beetroot plant. Indeed, beet tops carry more minerals, vitamins, and health-benefiting pigment antioxidants than its taproot, and yet they come as one of the very low calories leafy-greens. Although its top greens can be gathered at any stage of plant growth, they are at their best while the plant is young, and its stems are soft and tender.
Beet tops are one of very versatile, nutritious green leafy vegetables. The greens indeed very low in calories; 100 grams hold just 22 calories. Nonetheless, they are one of the healthiest greens recommended in the diet for their low fat, no cholesterol but health benefiting vitamins, minerals, and anti-oxidants.
Just as in the case of beetroot, its top greens too are a good source of the phytochemical compound, glycine betaine (Trimethylglycine). Betaine has the property of lowering homocysteine level in the blood, especially in persons with homocystinuria, a kind of inherited homocysteine metabolism disease. Homocysteine is one of highly toxic metabolite which promotes platelet clot as well as atherosclerotic plaque formation inside the blood vessels. An excessive amount of this compound in the blood can damage blood vessels resulting in the development of coronary heart disease (CHD), stroke, and peripheral vascular diseases.
Beet greens carry more minerals, vitamins, and fiber than beetroot (except for the folate vitamin), yet they are low in calories, fat, and sugar.
Beet greens are the finest sources of ß-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin. These flavonoids have strong antioxidant and anti-cancer activities. Beta-carotene can be converted into vitamin-A inside the human body.
Zeaxanthin, an important dietary carotenoid, absorbed selectively into the retinal macula lutea in the eyes, where it thought to provide antioxidant and protective UV light-filtering functions. Thus, it helps prevent retinal detachment and offer protection against "age-related macular degeneration related macular degeneration disease" (ARMD) in the older adults.
The top greens are excellent sources of vitamin-A; 100 g leaves provide 6,326 IU or 211% of RDA. Vitamin-A required for maintaining healthy mucosa and skin and is essential for vision. The diet rich in this vitamin has been found to be effective in the protection against lung and oral cavity cancers.