You need carbohydrates every day in order to be healthy, since carbohydrates are your body's primary source of energy. The average healthy adult woman should get between 45 to 65 percent of her daily calories from carbohydrates, or about 225 to 325 grams of carbohydrates per day if she's on a typical 2,000-calorie diet. Beets are a source of simple and complex carbohydrates, as well as essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that may lower your risk of cancer and heart disease.
1. Dietary Fiber
Fiber is a complex carbohydrate, one of the types of carbohydrate that is commonly referred to as being a "good" carb. A 1/2-cup serving of cooked beets contains about 8.5 grams of total carbohydrates, and 1.8 grams of this amount is supplied by dietary fiber. Approximately 0.8 gram is soluble fiber, while 1 gram is insoluble fiber. A diet that's rich in both can lower your risk of obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, hemorrhoids, stroke and gastroesophageal reflux disease. Women should get about 28 grams of fiber each day.
2. Simple Sugars
Simple sugars include the naturally occurring sugars in fruits and vegetables like fructose and glucose. Beets contain 6.7 grams of these sugars, which make up about 79 percent of a serving's carbohydrate content. These sugars are digested more quickly than complex carbohydrates, but they're still a vital part of a healthy diet, especially when they are supplied by high-fiber, low-fat, low-calorie produce such as beets. The simple sugars that are bad for you to eat too much of aren't the sugars in fresh produce, but those supplied by refined carbohydrates like white sugar and white flour.
3. Glycemic Index
If you're trying to control your blood sugar level, you may use the glycemic index of a food to help you determine if it contains more simple or complex carbohydrates. The glycemic index is a measure of how the carbohydrates in a food affect your blood sugar. Foods with a high glycemic index include white bread, white potatoes and pasta. These items cause your blood sugar level to rise quickly, then drop, leaving you craving more food. Foods with a low glycemic index take longer to digest and don't cause big fluctuations in your blood sugar. Beets have a glycemic index of 64, which is defined as a medium-high glycemic index. Cooked beets have a higher glycemic index than raw beets.
4. Beets on a Low-Carb Diet
Strict low-carbohydrate diet programs, including the Atkins diet, allow followers to eat beets, even during their most restrictive initial phases. For example, dieters are limited to 20 total grams of net carbohydrates during the Induction phase of the Atkins diet and are required to eliminate all types of fruit and grain products during this part of the plan. However, you are allowed 12 to 15 grams of carbohydrates from mildly high-carbohydrate vegetables, including beets.
- Harvard School of Public Health: Carbohydrates - Good Carbs Guide the Way
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Carbohydrates
- The Ohio State University Extension: Selecting, Storing and Serving Ohio Beets
- USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: Nutrient Data for 11081, Beets, Cooked, Boiled, Drained
- Harvard University Health Services: Fiber Content of Foods in Common Portions
- Nutrition Reviews: Health Benefits of Dietary Fiber
- American Diabetes Association: The Glycemic Index of Foods
- Mendosa.com: Glycemic Values of Common American Foods
- Los Angeles Times: Low-Glycemic-Index Diet Can Be Confusing
- Atkins: The Program - Phase 1
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