What Is Rutabaga? Nutrition, Health Benefits, & Side Effects

Switch your turnips and sweet potatoes with this root veggie to boost your wellness.

Medically reviewed by Dr. Archna Agrawal, MSc (Dietetics), Naturopathy Dr. Archna Agrawal Dr. Archna AgrawalMSc (Dietetics), Naturopathy facebook_icon
Written by , BTech (Biotechnology), Certified Health & Nutrition Life Coach Sindhu Koganti BTech (Biotechnology), Certified Health & Nutrition Life Coach linkedin_icon Experience: 6 years
Edited by , BSc, Professional Certificate in Food, Nutrition and Health Ravi Teja Tadimalla BSc, Professional Certificate in Food, Nutrition and Health linkedin_icon Experience: 8 years
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Rutabaga (Brassica napus), also known as Swedish turnip or Swede, is a root vegetable. This Northern European cuisine staple is often said to be a cross between cabbage and turnip. It belongs to the cruciferous family, and the benefits of rutabaga can be attributed to its essential nutrients. Rutabaga is also rich in dietary fiber and antioxidants that offer a wide range of health benefits, including improved digestion and reduced cancer risk.

This article explores the types, nutrition, health benefits, recipes, and possible side effects of rutabaga. Keep reading.

What Does Rutabaga Look Like?

Rutabaga is brownish-yellow or purple on the outside and yellow or white on the inside. It has a strong flavor and an earthy smell. It tastes milder than a turnip when raw, but when cooked, tastes slightly sweet and buttery (like sweet potatoes). You can add the roots, tops, and leaves of rutabaga to your diet to reap their benefits.

protip_icon Did You Know?
The term “rutabaga” is derived from the Swedish word “rotabagge”, which is made up of “rot” meaning “root” and “bagge” meaning “bunch”.

Rutabagas are classified into many types based on their shape and color. Here are the most common varieties.

Types Of Rutabaga

  • American Purple Top

This is the most common type of rutabaga, and its flesh has a mild flavor. It has a purplish top and a yellow or cream-colored bottom. It is firm and sweet, and turns into rich orange when cooked.

  • Joan

This type of rutabaga is uniformly round with purple tops. It is sweet and mild when young, but the flavor enhances with maturity. Besides, joan rutabaga is known to be disease-resistant.

  • Laurentian

This rutabaga is a Canadian native and is elongated. It is cream-colored with a red top and mild flavor.

  • Sweet Russian

This Russian variety is sweet and delicious. It is highly resistant to frosty cold conditions.

protip_icon Trivia
During the food shortages in the First and Second World War, rutabaga was deemed the last resort in Germany and France.
  • Marian

Marian rutabagas are large and can grow up to 8 inches in diameter. These are yellowish with purple tops. You can store these in your root cellar for up to four months.

  • Laurentian Rutabaga

The Laurentian rutabaga, a cold-resistant root vegetable, boasts a distinctive flavor and nutritional richness. Originating from the Laurentian region, it thrives in cooler climates, developing a sweet and peppery taste. With a vibrant purple hue and yellow flesh, this hardy vegetable is a versatile culinary delight. Ideal for roasting, mashing, or adding to stews, the Laurentian Rutabaga introduces a unique twist to traditional dishes.

  • Wilhelmsburg Rutabaga

The German green top rutabaga is a cherished heirloom with historical roots in Northern Europe, including the notable Wilhelmsburg region. It is recognized for its large, white-skinned roots and unique green tops and was bred in 1935. Its fine-textured, golden flesh remains free from bitterness or coarse fiber, making it a culinary standout.

In addition, long island improved rutabagas have small taproots with large bulbs.

Rutabagas are a rich source of essential nutrients. We will explore more in the next section.

Nutritional Profile Of Rutabaga

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, one medium (386g) raw rutabaga contains (1):

Calcium166 mg
Magnesium77.2 mg
Phosphorus205 mg
Potassium1180 mg
Vitamin C96.5 mg
Vitamin E1.16 mg

Besides, rutabaga also contains antioxidants, amino acids, and fatty acids. But how do these nutrients benefit your health? Keep scrolling to discover the top six health benefits of rutabaga.

Health Benefits Of Rutabaga

1. May Improve Digestion

Rutabagas are rich in fiber (1). Consuming foods rich in dietary fiber helps prevent hemorrhoids and diverticular disease (formation of bulges or sacks on colon walls). Insoluble fiber also regulates bowel movements. It attracts water and helps soften stool, making it easier to pass. This helps prevent constipation and improves stool frequency in people with constipation (2),(3). Moreover, rutabaga may also improve intestinal function with its fiber content (4).

2. May Help With Weight Loss

Felicia Newell, RDN, says, “Rutabagas are not only low in calories but also rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants. Foods that are low in calories but high in other nutrients can support weight loss.” According to the World Health Organization and the USDA, rutabaga is one of the zero-point foods that do not require any measuring or self-monitoring. Hence, it is considered a low-risk food for over-consumption (5).

Studies also link high fiber intake with weight loss. An increased consumption of dietary fiber reduces energy absorption. Soluble fiber, when fermented in the large intestine, produces two gut hormones (peptide and peptide YY) that may help induce satiety (6).

3. May Have Anticancer Properties

Cruciferous vegetables like rutabaga are rich in antioxidants that may help reduce cancer risk. These vegetables contain glucosinolates (sulphur compounds) that may protect against lung and alimentary tract cancers (7), (8). A study found that rutabaga extracts (seeds, roots, and sprouts) have the potential to induce apoptosis (inducing programmed cell death of cancer cells) (9). Another study conducted by Oregon State University (USA) found that phytochemicals (sulforaphane and indole-3-carbinol) present in these vegetables may help prevent prostate cancer (10).

4. May Boost Immune Health

Rutabagas are rich in vitamin C, which can boost the immune system, reduce the severity of allergic reactions, and help fight infections. The vitamin helps relieve the symptoms of respiratory tract infections and common cold, and fight pneumonia, diarrhea, and malaria better (11),(12). Vitamin C may also help prevent many systemic infections (affect the entire body) (13).

5. May Improve Heart Health

Rutabagas are high in potassium, which helps lower blood pressure in people with hypertension. Its increased intake may decrease the risk of heart failure, left ventricular hypertrophy (defective pumping by the heart’s left chamber) and ventricular arrhythmias (abnormal heartbeats) in patients with ischaemic heart disease (14). High potassium intake is also linked with a 24% lower risk of stroke (15).

Hypokalemia (very low potassium levels in the blood) is linked with an increased risk of arrhythmia in patients with cardiovascular disease. This condition may also increase the risk of all-cause, cardiovascular, and heart failure mortality by up to 10-fold (16).

6. Promotes Bone Health

The bioactive compounds in cruciferous vegetables show beneficial effects on bone metabolism (replacing a damaged bone tissue with a new one) (17). Minerals like calcium and magnesium in rutabagas help strengthen bones. A study conducted by the University College (Ireland) found that calcium intake may reduce the rate of loss of bone mineral density in postmenopausal women and elderly men (18). Additionally, consuming magnesium-rich foods may also help prevent osteoporosis (weak and brittle bones) (19).

As per a study, osteoporosis affects 200 million people globally, with a higher incidence in those aged 80 and above, particularly females. In the developed world, 2% to 8% of males and 9% to 38% of females experience osteoporosis. Worldwide, osteoporosis causes about 9 million fractures annually, and among those over 50, 1 in 3 females and 1 in 5 males experience a fracture.

These are some major benefits of rutabaga. But the vegetable may also have some potential risks you must be wary of. Check them out in the next section.

Risks Associated With Rutabaga

There are no recorded side effects of rutabaga. However, some people may experience oral allergy symptoms after consuming foods from the Brassica family (20). The symptoms may include swelling of the mouth, lips, or throat. Consult your doctor immediately if you suspect an allergy to rutabaga.

If you have hypothyroidism, consult your dietitian before consuming rutabaga as it is rich in glucosinolates, which interfere with iodine metabolism and worsen your condition.

Are Rutabaga And Potato The Same? If Not, How Do They Differ?

Rutabaga Vs. Potato

Both rutabaga and potato are cooked similarly. However, rutabaga is sweeter and less starchy than potato. It is also lower in calories. One cup of boiled rutabaga offers 51 calories as compared to 249 calories a cup of mashed potatoes offers (21), (22). Hence, rutabaga can be a great addition to your diet if you are adopting a low-carb lifestyle.

Rutabagas need proper storage conditions to enhance their shelf life. How do you go about it? Read on to know.

How To Store Rutabaga?

Rutabagas can last up to five or six months if stored in the refrigerator. Remember to keep them away from raw meat to prevent contamination or spoilage. Rutabaga puree can last a year if kept in the freezer.

Rutabagas can be eaten raw or cooked, and their recipes are simple to prepare. Here are the three delicious recipes you can try at home.

3 Easy And Delicious Rutabaga Recipes To Try

1. Rutabaga Fries

What You Need

  • Rutabaga – 1 (cut into spears)
  • Paprika – 2 teaspoons
  • Olive oil – 2 tablespoons
  • Garlic powder – 1 teaspoon
  • Salt and pepper – To taste


  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Combine rutabaga spears with oil and spices. Toss until they are evenly coated.
  4. Lay rutabaga spears onto a baking sheet, leaving space in between.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes, flipping the rutabaga spears halfway through – they should be cooked through and crisped on the outside.

2. Farro Salad With Roasted Rutabaga, Ricotta Salata, And Hazelnuts

What You Need

  • Rutabaga – 1½ pounds (peeled and cut into pieces)
  • Farro – 1½ cups
  • Ricotta salata – ½ cup
  • Toasted, chopped hazelnuts – ½ cup
  • Extra virgin essential oil – 5 tablespoons
  • Finely chopped shallot – 2 tablespoons
  • Maple syrup – 1 tablespoon
  • Kosher salt – ¾ teaspoon
  • Red wine vinegar – 2 teaspoons
  • Garlic clove – 1
  • Watercress – 2 bunches


  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Toss the rutabaga pieces with two tablespoons of oil, maple syrup, ½ teaspoon salt, and black pepper (to taste).
  2. Spread on a baking sheet and roast, stirring once or twice, until the rutabaga is very tender and browned (for 30 to 40 minutes).
  3. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add the farro.
  4. Cook until tender. This can take from 20 minutes to an hour, depending upon the type of farro used. Add more water if necessary.
  5. Whisk the shallot, vinegar, garlic, and ¼ teaspoon salt in a large bowl.
  6. Add three tablespoons of olive oil and some pepper.
  7. Drain farro and add to the bowl along with rutabaga, tossing everything well.
  8. Let it cool slightly and add cheese and hazelnuts. Taste and add more salt, pepper, and olive oil if necessary.
  9. Drizzle watercress or arugula with a little oil and vinegar in another bowl and toss well.
  10. Serve farro on a bed of watercress.

3. Greek Style Oven Roasted Rutabaga

What You Need

  • Rutabagas – 2 (about 750g)
  • Extra-virgin olive oil – ¼ cup
  • Lime juice – 2 tablespoons
  • Finely chopped fresh thyme – 2 tablespoons
  • Dijon mustard – 2 tablespoons
  • Himalayan salt – 1 teaspoon
  • Onion powder – 1 teaspoon
  • Garlic powder – 1 teaspoon
  • Smoked paprika – ½ teaspoon
  • Dried oregano – 1 teaspoon
  • Chili pepper flakes – ½ teaspoon


  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. Peel the rutabagas and cut them into roughly two-inch chunks. Add them to a large mixing bowl.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients in a separate bowl and mix vigorously with a whisk until well combined.
  4. Pour that sauce over the rutabagas and toss with a spoon until all the pieces are evenly coated.
  5. Spread the rutabaga in a single layer across a broiler pan. Leave room between the pieces to allow the air to circulate freely.
  6. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and lower the heat to 375°F.
  7. Continue baking, stirring 2 or 3 times during the process, until the rutabaga is fork-tender and starts to caramelize around the edges (about 25 minutes).
  8. Remove from the oven once the rutabaga has reached the desired color and doneness. Sprinkle salt.
  9. Let it cool for a few minutes and serve. Garnish with fresh herbs and a dribble of extra-virgin olive oil if desired.

Buck, a YouTuber, has tried an interesting recipe with rutabaga and shared his experience in a video. After he is done cooking, his partner tastes it and says, “Rutabaga has enough flavor on its own but the rosemary is a great touch (i).”

Rutabaga is a Swedish turnip-like nutrient-dense root vegetable. It commonly added in salads, fries, and other savory dishes. Rutabaga is loaded with beneficial nutrients, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that promote good health. The benefits of rutabaga range from boosting immunity to promoting heart health. It may also help promote digestion and aid in weight loss. If you plan to consume raw rutabaga, you should peel the skin first as it may contain wax. However, excessive consumption can lead to a few side effects. If you experience any adverse effects, limit its use and seek medical advice.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is rutabaga a superfood?

No, rutabaga is not a superfood.

Does rutabaga make you gassy?

The presence of raffinose in rutabaga may cause bloating and flatulence for some people.

Will rutabagas raise blood sugar?

No, rutabagas may not raise blood sugar (4).

Is rutabaga keto-friendly?

Anyone following a keto diet can consume rutabaga with low carbs.

Can people with diabetes eat rutabaga?

Yes, people with diabetes can eat rutabaga.

Key Takeaways

  • There are five types of rutabagas — American purple top, Joan, Laurentian, sweet Russian, and Marian.
  • Rutabagas may improve digestion, aid weight loss, boost immunity, and improve bone and heart health.
  • While it is mostly considered safe, it may cause allergic reactions in some cases.
  • When storing rutabaga in the fridge, keep it away from raw meat to avoid contamination or spoilage.

Personal Experience: Source


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  1. Rutabagas raw
  2. High Fiber Diet
  3. Effect of dietary fiber on constipation: a meta analysis
  4. Effect of dietary fiber concentrated from \’celery\’ \’parsnip\’ and rutabaga on \’intestinal function\’ \’serum cholesterol\’ and blood glucose response in rats
  5. Examination of a partial dietary self‐monitoring approach for behavioral weight management
  6. Effects of Dietary Fiber and Its Components on Metabolic Health
  7. Glucosinolates in Brassica foods: bioavailability in food and significance for human health
  8. Glucosinolates: bioavailability and importance to health
  9. Rutabaga (Brassica napus L. var. napobrassica) \’seeds\’ \’roots\’ and sprouts: a novel kind of food with antioxidant properties and proapoptotic potential in Hep G2 hepatoma cell line
  10. Phytochemicals from cruciferous \’vegetables\’ \’epigenetics\’ and prostate cancer prevention
  11. Vitamin C in Disease Prevention and Cure: An Overview
  12. Immune-enhancing role of vitamin C and zinc and effect on clinical conditions
  13. Vitamin C and Immune Function
  14. Beneficial effects of potassium on human health
  15. Effect of increased potassium intake on cardiovascular risk factors and disease: systematic review and meta-analyses
  16. Hypokalemia and sudden cardiac death
  17. Cruciferous vegetables: Prototypic anti-inflammatory food components
  18. The role of dietary calcium in bone health
  19. Magnesium and Osteoporosis: Current State of Knowledge and Future Research Directions
  20. Anaphylaxis to cabbage: detection of allergens
  21. \’Rutabagas\’ \’cooked\’ \’boiled\’ \’drained\’ without salt
  22. \’Sweet potato\’ \’cooked\’ \’boiled\’ \’without skin\’ with salt
  23. Turnips: 12 Impressive Health Benefits, Nutritional Value, And How To Eat
  24. 18 Important Health Benefits Of Beetroot + Nutrition Facts
  25. What Is Kohlrabi: Nutrition, Benefits, and Uses
  26. 21 Amazing Benefits Of Zucchini For Skin, Hair, And Health
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Dr. Archna Agrawal
Dr. Archna AgrawalMSc (Dietetics)
Dr. Archna Agrawal is a licensed naturopathy and yoga practitioner with over 20 years of experience in nutrition and counseling. She is also certified in nutrition, child care, and mind-body medicine and is on a mission to help people attain innate healing capacity without having to depend on anything or on anyone.

Read full bio of Dr. Archna Agrawal
Sindhu Koganti
Sindhu KogantiSenior Health & Wellness Writer
Sindhu Koganti is a Certified Health and Nutrition Life Coach and has over 6 years of experience in writing on health and wellness topics. She has a bachelor’s degree in biotechnology from Acharya Nagarjuna University, Guntur, and a diploma in nutrition from Fab Academy.

Read full bio of Sindhu Koganti
Ravi Teja Tadimalla
Ravi Teja TadimallaSenior Editor
Ravi Teja Tadimalla is a senior editor and a published author. He has been in the digital media field for over eight years. He graduated from SRM University, Chennai, and has a Professional Certificate in Food, Nutrition & Research from Wageningen University.

Read full bio of Ravi Teja Tadimalla
Himanshi Mahajan
Himanshi MahajanHealth & Wellness Writer
Himanshi Mahajan is a Certified Health & Nutrition Life Coach. She has a bachelor’s degree in Life Sciences from Guru Nanak Dev University and two years of experience in writing SEO-based and research-backed content across health and lifestyle genres.

Read full bio of Himanshi Mahajan