Mary Ellen Phipps, MPH, RDN, LD

Mary Ellen Phipps, MPH, RDN, LD

Mary Ellen Phipps, MPH, RDN, LD, the founder of Milk & Honey Nutrition, is a diabetes dietitian (Registered Dietitian Nutritionist) renowned for combining her knowledge of diabetes and culinary expertise into easy-to-follow recipes and articles!


Are Beets Good for Diabetes?

Article Overview

are beets good for diabetes

Beets are one of the most colorful root vegetables, but are beets good for diabetes?

Occasionally, I come across articles or content online talking about how much sugar beets have and claiming they should be avoided. So, let’s dive in and answer our question, “Are beets good for diabetes?”

Can people with diabetes eat beets?

Yes, people with diabetes can eat beets! Beets are a delicious root vegetable. You can purchase them fresh, canned, and frozen at most grocery stores. And, we’ll discuss why throughout this article… and some fun and tasty ways to enjoy them.

As a dietitian living with diabetes, I love including beets on everything from pizzas, to salads, to tacos!

And remember, along with beets, people with diabetes can enjoy all foods. How much and how often is dependent on your daily lifestyle and blood sugar goals. But, no foods are off limits.

Nutrition benefits of beets

Beets come with a lot of nutritional benefits. They contain vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber!

Research has shown eating beets regularly may help promote:

  • Healthy blood pressure levels
  • Athletic performance
  • Decreased inflammation
  • Brain health
  • Cancer prevention
  • Gastrointestinal health

And, they’re delicious and easy to add to your daily routine!

How many carbs in a beet?

One cup of raw sliced beets contains on average about 13g carbohydrate. And, 4 of those grams are fiber. One cup of cooked (boiled) sliced beets contains 17g carbohydrate, and 3 of those grams are fiber.

Are beets high in sugar?

Beets, also known as beetroots, contain naturally occurring sugars. One cup contains 9g of sugar. And, I know you may be tempted to think that’s too much or too high… but, it’s important to remember all the other nutrients we get when we eat beets: fiber, antioxidants, and more! 

Are beets good for diabetes?

Are beets good for people with diabetes? Or, are beets bad for people with diabetes? For a food to be “good” for diabetes we need to be able to enjoy it in a blood sugar friendly way that promote stable blood sugars after eating.

This can be done with some foods when eaten on their own, or for other foods when we combine them with other sources of fat, fiber, and protein

Beets can be part of a well balanced diet. They provide valuable nutrients and flavor. They can be eaten on their own or with other foods. Both ways will likely help promote stable blood sugars for people with diabetes. 

Do beets raise your blood sugar?

Because beets contain carbohydrate they can raise your blood sugar levels, though this is not a reason to avoid them if you have diabetes.

Their fiber content helps to slow down the digestion process. This gives your body time to produce insulin (or gives your medication time to take effect) and promotes stable blood sugars over time. 

Glycemic index of beets

The glycemic index tells us how quickly a food can raise blood glucose levels. (It does not take into account how much carbohydrate is in a food.) The glycemic index of boiled/cooked beets is 65. Beets are a medium glycemic index food.

Low glycemic0-55
Medium glycemic56-70
High glycemic>70

Glycemic load of beets

The glycemic load, however, is a more accurate picture of how much and how quickly a food may raise blood sugar levels. The glycemic load considers both how quickly a food can raise blood sugar levels and how much carbohydrate is in the food.

This tells us how much of an impact a food can potentially have on blood sugar levels. The glycemic load of cooked beets is 7. 

Low glycemic load0 – 10
Moderate glycemic load11-19
High glycemic load20+

Beets are considered a low glycemic load food. Low glycemic load foods are considered more beneficial for people looking to maintain stable blood sugar levels. 

Do beets lower blood sugar?

No food can lower blood sugar levels immediately, but research has shown that the antioxidant profile of beets may help promote stable blood sugars over time. Regular consumption of beets may be associated with lower insulin levels and lower levels of chronic disease in general. 

Are beets good for blood pressure and diabetes?

Research has shown that regular consumption of beets may help promote lower insulin levels and decreased insulin resistance. And, their antioxidant profile may help reduce the risk of diabetes-related complications. 

Beets also contain nitrates, which research has shown may reduce blood pressure levels. Nitrates can help improve blood flow and blood vessel elasticity. This means blood can flow more easily through your vessels. 

Other forms of beets and diabetes

Beets can be eaten cooked (usually baked or boiled), but they can also be consumed in other forms too.

Are canned beets good for type 2 diabetes?

Canned beets are boiled beets that have been preserved through the canning process. They have the same health benefits as raw beets that have been cooked or frozen, that we discussed above. And, canned foods can help reduce food waste. 

Is beet juice good for diabetes?

Possibly. Some research has shown that consuming beet juice with a meal may result in a lower insulin response and lower blood glucose levels after the meal. Some research has shown no benefit though. But, given that beet juice is most likely either neutral (no benefit, but also no harm) or does have a benefit, it may be worth trying.

Is beetroot good for diabetes?

Beetroot is just another name for beets. So yes, beetroot can be good for diabetes. 

Is beetroot sugar better for diabetes than cane sugar?

Beet sugar and cane sugar are two of the most common forms of refined sugar produced today. Each has different applications in cooking and baking. They are used for different types of dishes and have different textures. Their nutritional profiles, however, are relatively the same. 

Both forms of sugar, beet sugar and cane sugar, should be consumed in moderation.

Should people with diabetes eat beets?

Yes! If you enjoy the way beets taste and are living with diabetes, you should enjoy them in some of your favorite dishes. They are a nutrient rich vegetable with many associated nutritional and health benefits. 

Some of my favorite ways to enjoy beets include these recipes:

Beets and diabetes: The final word

Beets are a low glycemic load food, and can be a delicious part of a diabetes-friendly diet. Yes, they do contain natural sugar, but they also contain fiber and health promoting antioxidants and other metabolites. You can enjoy them on their own or added to your favorite dishes!

What other foods are good for diabetes?

are beets good for diabetes

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