Turnips: 14 Impressive Health Benefits, Nutritional Value, And How To Eat

This flavorful vegetable is rich in nutrients that you must include in your daily diet!

Medically reviewed by Tracy Tredoux, DipION, mBANT, CNHC, AFMCP Tracy Tredoux Tracy TredouxDipION, mBANT, CNHC, AFMCP facebook_icontwitter_iconinsta_icon
Written by , BSc, Professional Certificate in Food, Nutrition and Health Ravi Teja Tadimalla BSc, Professional Certificate in Food, Nutrition and Health Experience: 8 years
Edited by , BA (Literature & Psychology), PG Diploma Arshiya Syeda BA (Literature & Psychology), PG Diploma Experience: 7 years
Fact-checked by , BTech (Biotechnology), Certified Health & Nutrition Life Coach Sindhu Koganti BTech (Biotechnology), Certified Health & Nutrition Life Coach Experience: 6 years
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The benefits of turnips lie in their nutritional profile and disease-preventing properties. They are one of the oldest cultivated vegetables globally and have a deep purple color and a pungent taste.

Turnips have traditionally been used to treat sexually transmitted infections (STIs), headaches, rheumatoid arthritisi  A chronic disorder that causes inflammation and pain in the joints due to the body’s immune system attacking its own tissues. , and edemai  Leakage in the capillaries or tiny blood vessels that results in fluid accumulation in the nearby tissues, leading to swelling. . In addition, they are popularly used in folk medicine to treat hepatitis, jaundice, and sore throat (1).

Also known as Brassica rapa, this root vegetable has antitumor effects, thanks to the presence of isothiocyanates and glucosinolates. It is also rich in antioxidants like phenols and flavonoids that may protect against harmful microbes, liver disease, and diabetes (2), (3).

Arvelexin, another beneficial component in this vegetable, may help reduce inflammation and decrease high blood pressure and high blood cholesterol (1), (4).

Are turnips good for you? In this article, we discuss these benefits of turnips in detail. Keep scrolling to read more.

protip_icon Know Your Ingredient: Turnip

What Is It?
A small, round, and white root vegetable with a purple-shaded top that has a sweet taste and a strong pungent aroma.

What Are Its Benefits?
It helps improve heart and liver health, reduces the risk of cancer, and aids in weight loss.

Who Can Consume It?
It is generally considered safe for consumption except for people on blood-thinning medications.

How Often?
About 130 grams of turnip in one serving a day can be taken.

Caution
Consult a doctor before consumption if you have thyroid issues and kidney stones. Excess consumption may lead to bloating and stomach pain.

What Are The Health Benefits of Turnips?

1. May Relieve Intestinal Problems

Turnips may keep intestines healthy
Image: Shutterstock

Consume turnips for digestion as they may prove to be beneficial as they are rich in fiber. Traditionally, the vegetable has been used to cure various gastrointestinal ailmentsi  Diseases that affect the gastrointestinal tract, including the esophagus, stomach, intestines, rectum, etc. . Research suggests that consuming higher quantities of dietary fiber may reduce the risk of diverticular disease as it helps with bowel movement (5). On the other hand, a few studies suggest that a high fiber intake may not be helpful against asymptomatic diverticulosis (6).

However, more recent studies have reported that a high dietary fiber intake may reduce the risk of diverticular disease. Individuals consuming 30 g of fiber per day may reduce their risk of the disease by 41% (7).

A high fiber diet is established to be beneficial to improve the gut bacteria population (8). These probiotic bacteria help in providing nutrition to the body and add to the anti-inflammatory benefits of turnips (8). The gut bacteria may also help with bowel movements. More research in this area will provide a better understanding of this benefit.

Turnip have also been shown to fight Helicobacter pylori, which is the bacteria that cause stomach ulcers (9). Including turnips in your diet would help in improving gut health. They may also provide relief from stomach issues such as bloating, gas, and constipation.

2. May Improve Cardiovascular Health

You can consume turnips for heart health as turnips have antidiabetic, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties that may help in reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases (10), (11). The veggies have a high content of healthy fats that may help in regulating cholesterol levels.

Animal studies have reported that turnips may enhance glucose and lipid metabolism (12). This effect could also promote cardiovascular health.

3. May Reduce Cancer Risk

The glucosinolates and isothiocyanates in turnips have anticancer properties (13).

Research states the one can use turnips for cancer prevention such as cancers of the ovary, colon, bladder, lung, prostate, and breast (14), (15), (16).

Studies in human lung cancer cells have reported anticancer activity of turnips (17).

4. May Protect The Liver And Kidney

Turnips have also exhibited hepatoprotective activity in mice (18).

In another study, turnip root ethanolic extract was found to offer protection against hepatic injury in rats(19).

Turnip water extract was also found to protect against hepatic fibrogenesis (formation of a large amount of scar tissue in the liver) (20).

Overall, these studies indicate that turnip has an important role in protecting the liver. A similar role of turnip was observed in kidneys. The vegetable had a protective effect against renal injury in rats (21). This renoprotective effect was also observed against rats in another study (22).

5. May Have Antidiabetic Properties

Studies on turnips for blood sugar control have established that turnip extracts have antidiabetic effects (12). It is reported that the vegetable can help regulate glucose levels by increasing the insulin/glucagon ratio (12).

However, more studies are needed to further understand the antidiabetic properties of turnips.

6. May Promote Weight Loss

Turnip may promote weight loss
Image: Shutterstock

You can consume turnips for weight loss as they have the ability to inhibit the deposition of lipids in fat cells by stimulating receptors that are involved in lipid metabolism (23).

In animal studies, turnip extract significantly reduced body weight, blood glucose, lipid peroxidation, nitric oxide, and total triglycerides and cholesterol levels. These effects were observed in rats with fructose‐induced metabolic syndromei  A cluster of issues associated with heart disease and type 2 diabetes caused due to an excess intake of fructose, the sugar found in fruit. (24).

Turnip is low in calories and also has a low glycemic indexi  A rating that represents the ability of carbohydrate-rich foods to elevate blood glucose levels. . Raw turnip has a glycemic index of 30 (while the cooked variant has a GI of 85) (25). The high dietary fiber content of turnips also increases satiety and helps keep hunger pangs at bay. These effects of Turnips for metabolic health may help promote weight loss.

7. May Promote Healthy Skin And Hair

Turnip may promote healthy skin and hair
Image: Shutterstock

Turnip is a rich source of vitamins A and C, and iron. All of them are essential for healthy skin and hair. Vitamin A is important for skin physiology (26). It may help in the production of sebum and the prevention of acne (27), (28), (29). However, more research is needed regarding the use of turnips for skin health.

Vitamin C promotes collagen production. Collagen provides structure to skin (30). It may also keep the skin looking young and supple.

Iron helps in the melanin production in hair (31). Iron deficiency is reported to cause hair loss and premature hair graying (31). Due to these properties, raw turnip greens benefit hair health.

8. May Help Reduce Anemia

Iron deficiency is one of the leading causes of anemia (32). Iron is a major component of hemoglobin present in red blood cells (32). It is essential for carrying oxygen to all parts of the body (32). Turnips are rich in iron, and including them in your diet may help in combating the fatigue from anemia. Turnips are also rich in vitamin C, which helps with iron absorption.

9. May Help Prevent Osteoporosis

Turnips contain glucosinolates that have been reported to help in bone formation in rats proving the importance of turnips for bone health (33).

This vegetable also has vitamin K. which helps in reducing the risk of fractures, promoting calcium absorption, and increasing bone density (34).

10. May Help Improve Memory

Turnip may improve memory
Image: Shutterstock

Turnip greens contain choline. Choline is essential for many vital functions (35). It is a structural component of cell membranes that helps with memory (36). It is also a component of neurotransmittersi  A molecule secreted by a nerve cell that sends a signal to another cell to regulate bodily functions like heart rate, breathing, muscle movement, etc. and helps reduce inflammation (36).

11. May Help During Pregnancy

Turnip greens are a good source of both folic acid and iron. These are essential for women during pregnancy (37), (38). Regular consumption of this root vegetable, along with other leafy green vegetables, can help pregnant women with their daily nutritional requirements.

12. May Have Antimicrobial Properties

Turnips contain a specific compound called β-Phenylethyl isothiocyanate. This compound has exhibited antimicrobial activity against food-borne pathogens like Vibrio parahaemolyticus, Staphylococcus aureus, and Bacillus cereus (13). Further studies are needed to validate this claim.

13. May Improve Brain Injury

Turnip has a wide range of medicinal properties, including brain development. It can help improve brain damage caused by oxygen deprivation. According to a study conducted to examine the neuroprotective effects of turnip on mice, it was found that turnip extracts can help reduce brain damage, decrease harmful substances, and restore cell functions affected by oxygen deprivation. It activates a specific cell pathway to protect the brain from injury caused by reduced blood flow (39). However, more human studies are required in this regard.

14. May Treat Cold Symptoms

Turnip has been used as a traditional medicine for the treatment of headaches and chest complaints for a long time (2). Though there is little evidence regarding its ability to treat colds, anecdotal evidence suggests it can help loosen mucus.

protip_icon Quick Tip
The stems, flower buds, and leaves of turnip are also replete with antioxidants. You may consume them to reap the maximum benefit of this vegetable.

These are the different ways turnip benefits your health. In the following section, we will explore the nutritional facts of the vegetable.

Nutrition Facts

  • 90 % of raw turnip (100 g) contains water. It has only 28 kcal. It also has protein (2.5 g), fat (0.8 g), carbohydrate (24.7 g), and fiber (1.8 g).
  • Calcium (30 mg), iron (0.3 mg), magnesium (11 mg), phosphorus (27 mg), and potassium (191 mg)
  • Sodium (67 mg), zinc (0.27 mg), copper (0.085 mg), selenium (0.7 µg)
  • Vitamin C (21 mg), thiamin (0.04 mg), riboflavin (0.03 mg), niacin (0.4 mg), vitamin B6 (0.09 mg), folate (15 µg), choline (11.1 mg)
  • 20 glucosinolates and 16 isothiocyanates have been reported from turnip (progoitrin, gluconasturtiin, gluconapin, 4- hydroxyglucobrassicin, glucobrassicanapin, gluconapoleiferin, glucobrassicin, and neoglucobrassicin) (2)

*values sourced from SELFnutritionData, in association with USDA, turnips, raw

How To Eat Turnips?

Turnips can be eaten cooked or raw. They can be baked into chips for a healthy snack. Roasted or grilled baby turnips can also be added to a side dish. They are popular in salads and coleslaw. Adding them to mashed potatoes can improve their nutritional value. Simple mashed turnips are also a popular side dish. Turnip juice is consumed as a healthy alternative to beverages. It can be added to smoothies or yogurt for flavor.

protip_icon Quick Tip
Baby turnips are sweeter and are best for raw consumption in salads. Mature turnips have a stronger taste and a firm texture and are suitable for cooking.

Turnips are usually safe for most people. But they may cause certain adverse effects in some. We will briefly explore them in the following section.

Side Effects Of Turnips

Stomach pain may be a side-effect of turnip
Image: Shutterstock

Turnips belong to the cruciferous family. As per anecdotal evidence, eating them in excess may cause bloating, gas, and stomach pain.

Glucosinolates and isothiocyanates in turnips may have a goitrogenic activity (2). They may interact with the thyroid hormone. Individuals with thyroid issues may need to consult their doctor before consuming turnips.

Turnips may also cause complications in people with kidney stones. However, there is no research to back this up. Though turnips may benefit kidney health, those with kidney issues must consult their doctor before consuming turnips.

Infographic: 5 Health Benefits Of Turnip

Turnips are beneficial due to their nutrient composition and disease-fighting abilities. They have several medicinal properties, making them a superfood. Well, we have listed more health benefits of turnips in the infographic below. Have a look.

5 health benefits of turnip (infographic)

Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team

Turnip benefits are numerous and can be attributed to their beneficial nutrients. If included regularly as part of the diet, turnips can relieve intestinal problems, promote weight loss, and boost hair and skin health. In addition, glucosinolates and isothiocyanates in turnips reduce the risk of cancer. Turnips can also promote cardiovascular, liver, and kidney health. These also exhibit anti-diabetic properties, improve memory, and help manage anemia and osteoporosis. Turnips can be included in your diet, either raw or cooked. However, excess intake may trigger gas, stomach pain, and bloating. Hence, moderate consumption is advised.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are turnips better for you than potatoes?

According to the calorific value, turnips are better than potatoes as they have fewer calories. But in terms of nutrition value, both have their own advantages.

Are turnips good for those with diabetes?

Yes. Turnips are antidiabetic and can help lower blood sugar levels.

Are turnips good for lowering cholesterol?

Yes. Turnips regulate lipid or fat metabolism. Preliminary studies on rats have reported that they can reduce cholesterol levels.

Do turnips cause gas?

Turnips are cruciferous vegetables and contain compounds that may cause flatulence and bloating.

Are turnips considered starchy vegetables?

Turnips contain very less starch. Hence, they are not considered starchy vegetables.

Are turnips good for kidney stones?

Turnips have a renoprotective effect. However, some believe they may cause kidney stones. The information is mixed. Consult your doctor.

Are turnips a Superfood?

Yes, as a rich source of calcium, vitamins, potassium, and other necessary nutrients, turnips are considered a superfood.

Is turnip skin safe to eat?

It is safe to eat turnip skin. However, the skin leaves a sharp aftertaste and is not usually recommended to be eaten.

Key Takeaways

  • The content of vitamins A and C in turnip may also boost collagen synthesis and improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
  • When consumed with other green vegetables, the folic acid and iron in turnip can help pregnant women with their daily nutritional requirements.
  • Turnips may also help with weight management by inhibiting the deposition of lipids in fat cells and boosting metabolism.
  • You can either consume the vegetable raw or add it to your diet in the form of chips, coleslaws, beverages, and smoothies.
turnips benefits_illustration

Image: Stable Diffusion/StyleCraze Design Team

Discover the top 11 surprising health benefits of turnips! From aiding digestion to boosting immunity, understand how this root vegetable can benefit your health.

References

Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

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Tracy Tredoux

Tracy TredouxDipION, mBANT, CNHC, AFMCP

Tracy is a fully qualified nutritional therapist with 10 years of experience specializing in gut and immune health. She is a Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner and uses her knowledge to address the root causes of illness rather than merely manage the symptoms. She motivates and supports her clients along their journey to achieve peak health and wellness through personalized dietary...read full bio

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