• Botanical name: Brassica rapa
• Enjoyed since ancient times, the turnip is a round, apple-sized root vegetable from the Brassicaceae family. It’s white at the bottom with a light purple blush around the top, which appears when the plant has been exposed to sunlight. Native to northern Europe, turnip was a staple of ancient Greek and Roman diets. Roman author and philosopher Pliny the Elder described the turnip as “one of the most important vegetables” of his time.
• Turnips thrive best in cold weather and grow up to two feet high, with long and slender hairy leaves. You can buy them all year long, but are enjoyed best during fall and spring, when they are small and sweet. “Baby turnips” – small, young, all-white turnips that have been harvested early in the growing stage – are a favorite of many people, as they are delicate and sweet, frequently added raw to vegetable salads. The larger the turnip, the woodier its taste becomes.
• Like other root vegetables, turnips are a great storage vegetable that you can stock before winter arrives. When buying this root crop, make sure to look for firm and heavy roots that have a smooth skin, a sweet aroma, and crisp green tops.
• Turnips taste bland, like a cross between a carrot and a potato. Even so, they have plenty of uses in the kitchen. Add them raw to your salads, or mix with cherry tomatoes and olives to make a delicious appetizer. You can also mix them in stews along with vegetables like potatoes, carrots, and kohlrabi.
• Before cooking or serving turnip, make sure you clean it thoroughly by scrubbing the skin with a vegetable brush under running water. It has a great crunch and texture, so make sure not to overcook.
• Another tip: don’t throw away the leafy green tops – they are actually more nutritious than the roots, and are teeming with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
• Health Benefits of Turnip
• Turnip is a great source of minerals, antioxidants, and dietary fiber. It is also a low-calorie vegetable – a 100 gram serving only has 28 calories. Surprisingly, it’s also loaded with immune-boosting vitamin C, with 21 milligrams per 100 grams, which is 35 percent of the recommended daily amount (RDA). Vitamin C is essential to your body for collagen synthesis as well as for scavenging free radicals, which may cause cancer and inflammation linked to various diseases.
• The leafy green tops are more nutritionally dense than the crunchy white roots. They are rich in free radical-scavenging antioxidants like vitamins A and C, carotenoids, xanthin, and lutein. The leaves are also an excellent source of vitamin K, a direct regulator of the inflammatory response, and omega-3 acids like alpha linolenic acid (ALA), which are the building blocks for your body’s anti-inflammatory molecules.
• Turnip greens also contain B vitamins (riboflavin, folates, pyridoxine, pantothenic acid, and thiamin), calcium, copper, manganese, and iron, as well as phytonutrients like quercetin, myricetin, kaempferol, and hydroxycinnamic acid, which help lower your risk of oxidative stress.________________________________________
The turnip has been a popular staple in the European diet since prehistoric times. It is often grouped in with root vegetables like potatoes and beets, but is actually part of the cruciferous family.
Along with its nutritional powerhouse cruciferous cousins like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, arugula and kale, turnips provide a high amount of nutrients for a low amount of calories.
The leafy greens of the turnip are also edible and provide a bevy of health benefits. This article will focus on consumption of the bulbous root, which is most often a creamy white color with a purple top where it has been exposed to the sun.
This MNT Knowledge Center feature is part of a collection of articles on the health benefits of popular foods. It provides a nutritional breakdown of the turnip and an in-depth look at its possible health benefits, how to incorporate more turnips into your diet and any potential health risks of consuming turnips.
Possible health benefits of turnips
Consuming fruits and vegetables of all kinds has long been associated with a reduced risk of many adverse health conditions.
Many studies have suggested that increasing consumption of plant foods like turnips decreases the risk of obesity,diabetes, heart disease and overall mortality while promoting a healthy complexion, increased energy, and overall lower weight.
1) Treating diverticulosis
High fiber diets have been shown to decrease the prevalence in flare-ups of diverticulitis by absorbing water in the colon and making bowel movements easier to pass.
Eating a healthful, fruit and vegetable and fiber-filled diet can reduce pressure and inflammation in the colon. One cup of cooked turnips provides 4 grams of fiber.
Although the cause of diverticular disease is unknown, it has been repeatedly associated with a low fiber diet.4
2) Lowering blood pressure
According to a 2013 study published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, foods containing dietary nitrates like turnips and collard greens have been shown to have multiple vascular benefits, including reducing blood pressure, inhibiting platelet aggregation, and preserving or improving endothelial dysfunction.
In general, a diet rich in all fruits and vegetables has been shown to lower blood pressure as well. Turnips also havepotassium, which is thought to bring blood pressure down by releasing sodium out of the body and helping arteries dilate.6
3) Fighting cancer
Since the 1980s, consuming high amounts of cruciferous vegetables like turnips, cauliflower and cabbage have been associated with a lower risk of cancer. More recently, researchers have been able to pinpoint that the sulforaphane compound that gives cruciferous vegetables their bitter bite is also what gives them their cancer-fighting power.
Promising results in studies testing sulforaphane's ability to delay or impede cancer have been seen with multiple types of cancers including melanoma, esophageal, prostate and pancreatic. Sulforaphane-containing foods could potentially be an integral part of cancer treatment in the future.1
4) Weight loss, digestion and detox
Turnips and other cruciferous vegetables that are high in fiber help to keep you feeling full longer and are also low in calories. Eating high fiber meals keep blood sugar stable.
The fiber content in turnips also prevents constipation and promotes regularity for a healthy digestive tract. Regular, adequate bowel movements are crucial for the daily excretion toxins through the bile and stool.
Recent studies have shown that dietary fiber may play a role in regulating the immune system and inflammation, consequently decreasing the risk of inflammation-related conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, and obesity.
5) Maintaining vision
Adequate vitamin C intake has been shown to help keep eyes healthy by providing increased protection against UV light damage.6 Citrus fruits are often thought of first when it comes to increasing vitamin C intake, but many cruciferous vegetables are also surprisingly high in this important nutrient. Eating just two medium turnips would meet your vitamin C needs for the entire day.
A higher intake of all fruits and vegetables (3 or more servings per day) has also been shown to decrease the risk of and progression of age-related macular degeneration.