Sugar beets are safe and nutritious to eat. Beets are often cooked before eating, but are safe to eat raw. They can be eaten boiled, baked, steamed, fried or grilled. For highest nutritional value, leave the peel on while cooking, then rub the peel off under cold running water.
Beets contain calcium, cooper, iron, magnesium and phosphorus. Other nutrients found in beets include potassium, selenium, sodium, zinc and choline. In addition, beets contain folate, niacin, retinol, riboflavin and beta-carotene, as well as vitamins A, C, B6, B12 and E. They were popularized as a food in the 1800s by French chefs. Before that, the roots were used primarily for medicinal purposes.