Turnips are starchy vegetables belonging to the Brassicaceae family which also includes cabbage, kale, brussels sprouts etc. Though we usually refer to the bulbous roots as turnips, their sprouts and leaves are also edible and highly nutritious, and are used in European, Asian and Eastern American cuisines. Their bulbous roots are often diced or chopped and pickled whereas its greens are used in stews and soups. Baby turnips are quite delicious, tender and sweet and thus, can be added to salads and eaten raw. As a turnip matures, its flavor becomes more pronounced and its texture firm and woody (1).
The inner flesh of this vegetable is white in color with tinges of purple to pink to red whereas the skin color of the root bulb depends on the amount of sunlight it receives and is usually white. These vegetables are generally conical in shape but sometimes they can also be round shaped. Their maximum weight can reach up to 1 kg. Their leaves taste somewhat like mustard whereas the roots have a mild pungent flavor with a hint of bitter sweetness. The peak season for turnips is fall or winter months.
The leafy green vegetables that come from the tops of turnip bulbs are known as turnip greens. These can be added to salads or sautéed and served as a side dish. Though the root is most widely used, its top fresh greens are much more nutritious, being several times richer in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. All in all, turnips can be a perfect replacement for potatoes as it contains only 1/3rd calories in comparison to those in potatoes. Rutabagas are a cross between turnips and cabbage which are larger, more round, have yellow color flesh and are sweeter than turnips.
The local names of turnips are ‘Shalgam‘ in Hindi, ‘Tella Dumpa‘ in Telugu, ‘Knol Khol‘ in Tamil, ‘Madhura Mullangi‘ in Malayalam, ‘Navil Kosu‘ in Kannada, ‘Salgam‘ in Marathi, ‘Shalgom‘ in Bengali and ‘Shalgam‘ in Punjabi.
Health Benefits of Turnips:
Like most other vegetables, turnips are low in calories and hence, quite nutritious. They are used for farm animals as well as for human consumption and offer a variety of health benefits.
1. Cancer Prevention:
These cruciferous vegetables contain high levels of antioxidants and phytochemicals, which reduce the risk of cancer. Presence of glucosinolates prevents as well as reduces the effect of cancer. These are natural plant chemicals that break into two compounds while digesting i.e. indoles and isothiocyanates. They help the liver process toxins, fight the effects of carcinogens and can inhibit the growth of tumor cells. Inclusion of this vegetable in your daily diet can reduce the risk of breast cancer as well as colon and rectal tumors (2).
2. Cardiovascular Health:
Turnips possess great anti-inflammatory properties due to the presence of large amount of vitamin K. These help in preventing heart attacks, heart strokes and other heart ailments. Turnip greens aid in digestion by absorbing more amount of bile which uses up the cholesterol present in the body. This results in the reduction of cholesterol. Turnips are also excellent sources of folate, which further helps to boost up the cardiovascular system (3).
3. Bone Health:
Turnips are an important source of calcium and potassium which are vital for healthy bone growth and maintenance. Regular consumption of turnip inhibits joint damage, risk of osteoporosis and the incidence of Rheumatoid Arthritis. It is also an excellent source of calcium, a mineral that supports the body’s production of connective tissues (4).
4. Lung Health:
The carcinogens present in cigarette smoke cause vitamin A deficiency, resulting in lung inflammation, emphysema and other lung problems. The vitamin A contained in turnip greens helps in maintaining healthy lungs by counteracting this defect (5).
5. Aids in Digestion:
The high fiber content in turnip greens supports the body’s digestive system (6). Research has proved that glucosinolates may also help the stomach process bacteria like Helicobacter pylori.
6. Prevents Atherosclerosis:
Too many free radicals in the body cause oxidation of bad cholesterol and clumping of platelets in our body, thus leading to atherosclerosis, a condition that damages the blood vessels. Vitamins E, C and beta carotene in turnip roots and greens are excellent antioxidants that fight free radicals in the body. Thus, regular consumption of turnips prevents the development and progression of this condition (7).
7. Treatment of Common Ailments:
The curative power of turnips is beneficial in preventing several common illnesses such as lack of hunger and hemorrhoids. Regular consumption of turnip can even cure kidney stone if it is small enough (8).
8. Beneficial for Weight Loss:
Turnips are low in calories and hence, can form part of an effective weight loss program. Their high fiber content on the other hand regulates metabolism, controls body weight and supports a healthy and active colon (9).
9. Cures Asthma:
The anti-inflammatory properties of turnips can be attributed to their high content of vitamin C which is a powerful antioxidant. These properties are effective in curing asthma and curbing the symptoms of asthma. Studies have proved that giving turnips to asthmatic patients can lessen wheezing.
10. Prevents Body Odor:
Body odor is a common problem, particularly in the summer months. Turnip juice is quite beneficial in getting rid of body odor. Drinking turnip juice is generally good for health and also helps to avoid body odor (10).
11. Strengthens the Immune System:
Turnip root plays an important role in the proper functioning of the body’s immune system (11). The beta-carotene content in turnips helps the body in producing healthy membranes.
12. Eye Health:
Turnip greens are a rich source of lutein, a carotenoid that promotes eye health and prevents ocular diseases such as macular degeneration and cataracts (12).
13. Benefits of Antioxidants:
Turnips are rich in antioxidants including vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin E, manganese and beta-carotene (13). The roots are particularly rich in vitamin C whereas the leaf-greens are full of all these antioxidants. They also contain complex phytonutrients which stimulate antioxidant activity, thus increasing their ability to combat free radicals and preventing DNA damage to cells.
[Read:Tips To Get Healthy Skin]
Skin Benefits of Turnips:
Turnips are rich in vitamin A, vitamin C and beta-carotene as well as minerals like copper which are vital for maintaining skin health. Thus, this vegetable offers the following benefits for your skin.
14. Brightens Your Skin:
Frequent intake of turnips keeps your skin bright and smooth. The high content of vitamins A and C helps in maintaining healthy and radiant skin (14).
15. Treatment of Torn Feet:
External use of turnip helps in the treatment of torn feet. For this purpose, you can take about 12 turnips along with their leaves and boil them in water. Before going to bed, soak your feet in this boiled water along with turnips for 10 minutes and also rub some turnips on the torn skin of your feet. Doing this regularly for 3 days will make your feet soft and repair your skin. Turnip leaves will help to eliminate wrinkles on the feet.
16. Anti-ageing Benefits:
As stated earlier, turnips are an excellent source of antioxidant vitamin C. This vitamin fights and eliminates free radicals which are responsible for causing skin ageing. Thus, it helps to keep signs of ageing like spots, wrinkles and fine lines at bay (15).
[Read:Benefits Of Guava ]
Hair Benefits of Turnips:
Being loaded with vitamins, antioxidants and minerals, turnips are good for your hair as well. Turnips can be beneficial for your hair in the following manner.
17. Promotes Healthy Hair:
Regular consumption of turnips improves the health and color of your hair. They are a good source of copper which is involved in melanin formation. Melanin is a pigment that provides color to your hair. They are also rich in antioxidants like vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin which help maintain healthy hair.
[Read:Carrots for Beautiful Skin]
Nutritional Value of Turnips:
Turnips have a rich nutritional value comprising of vitamins K, A, C, E, B1, B3, B5, B6, B2 and folate as well as minerals like manganese, fiber, potassium, magnesium, iron, calcium and copper. It is also a good source of phosphorus, omega-3 fatty acids and protein.
|Turnips root (Brassica rapa (Rapifera Group) ),Fresh, raw, Nutrition Value per 100 g|
|Principle||Nutrient Value||Percentage of RDA|
|Total Fat||0.10 g||<1%|
|Dietary Fiber||1.8 g||5%|
|Pantothenic acid||0.200 mg||4%|
|Vitamin A||0 IU||0%|
|Vitamin C||21 mg||35%|
|Vitamin E||0.03 mg||<1%|
|Vitamin K||0.1 µg||<1%|
Calories: In spite of their rich taste, turnips are low in calories. One cup of raw turnip provides just 36 calories which can fulfill 2.5% of your daily caloric intake if you follow a 1500 calorie diet or 1.8 % of the daily caloric intake in case of a 2000 calorie diet. A cup of cooked calories provides only 30 calories and 4 grams of sugar.
Fiber: Fiber can help you feel full and hence is beneficial in restricting your caloric intake. A cup of turnips provides about 5 grams of fiber. Boiled turnip provides about 4 grams of dietary fiber which is 16% of the daily requirement. The recommended daily requirement of fiber is 25 grams and 38 grams for men and women respectively.
Carbohydrates, Proteins and Fat: Turnips contain abundant amounts of carbohydrates. One cup serving of raw turnips provides around 8.5 grams of carbohydrates. This comprises of approximately 5 grams of sugar and 1.2 grams of starch. Sugar and starch provide your body with the energy needed for day to day functioning. Turnips have a low protein and fat content with one cup of turnip providing approximately 1 gram of protein and 0.1 gram of fat.
Vitamins: Turnips are rich in several vitamins. A cup of mashed turnip provides about 27 mg of vitamin C. This vitamin is an antioxidant which facilitates tissue repair and immunity. The recommended daily requirement of this vitamin for adults is between 75 and 90 mg for women and men respectively. Turnips are also rich in B vitamins such as riboflavin, thiamin, niacin, folate and pantothenic acid. One cup of turnip provides about 0.2 mg of vitamin B6. The recommended daily allowance of this vitamin is 1.3 mg. B vitamins are important as they facilitate fat, carbohydrate and protein metabolism, nervous system function and healthy skin, hair, eyes and liver. Turnip greens are comparatively higher in vitamins, offering more than a day’s worth of vitamin A and K. They are also a good source of vitamin C and A. One cup of turnip greens contains 33 mg of vitamin C and 6373 International Units (IU) of vitamin A which fulfills about 64% of the daily requirement. It also provides 318 IUs of vitamin K which is about 3 times the daily requirement for adults.
|Turnips/100 g||Turnip greens/100 g|
|Vitamin C||21 mg||60 mg|
|Vitamin A||0 mg||11587 IU|
|Calcium||30 mg||190 mg|
|Iron||0.3 mg||1.10 mg|
|Manganese||0.134 mg||0.466 mg|
|Carotene-ß||0 µg||6952 µg|
Minerals: Turnips also contain a variety of minerals. One cup of mashed turnip provides about 76 mg of calcium which is equivalent to 8% of the recommended daily value. It also provides 407 mg of potassium which is vital for maintaining healthy blood pressure and fluid balance. The recommended daily allowance of potassium is 4700 mg. Turnips also contain small amounts of iron, magnesium, phosphorus, sodium, zinc, manganese and selenium.
Hence, turnips can be a healthy and tasty addition to your diet. Being low in calories, they can also be used as a substitute for potatoes in many dishes.
So start finding ways to get turnips onto your plate, and avail its nutritional benefits. In order to promote longevity and quality of life, include the right types of foods into your diet. Stay healthy, stay happy!!