6 Reasons You Should Add Rutabaga To Your Diet

Written by Sindhu Koganti , BTech (Biotechnology), Diploma In Nutrition

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 is loaded with many 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.

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.

  • 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.

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):

Calories143
Protein4.17g
Fat0.618g
Carbohydrate33.3g
Fiber8.88g
Sugar17.2g
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).

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.

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

Process

  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

Process

  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

Process

  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.

Takeaway

Rutabagas are root vegetables from the Brassica family and are rich in nutrients, antioxidants, and essential plant compounds. They help improve digestion, lose weight, boost immunity, reduce the risk of cancer, and promote heart and bone health. They can be eaten raw or cooked. But be sure to peel their skin as they may have a wax coating. Consuming rutabagas has no recorded side effects. However, consult your doctor immediately if you experience any allergic reaction upon consumption.

Sources

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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  2. High Fiber Diet
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  3. Effect of dietary fiber on constipation: a meta analysis
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  8. Glucosinolates: bioavailability and importance to health
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  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
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  10. Phytochemicals from cruciferous \’vegetables\’ \’epigenetics\’ and prostate cancer prevention
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  11. Vitamin C in Disease Prevention and Cure: An Overview
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  12. Immune-enhancing role of vitamin C and zinc and effect on clinical conditions
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16373990/
  13. Vitamin C and Immune Function
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  14. Beneficial effects of potassium on human health
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  15. Effect of increased potassium intake on cardiovascular risk factors and disease: systematic review and meta-analyses
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  16. Hypokalemia and sudden cardiac death
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  17. Cruciferous vegetables: Prototypic anti-inflammatory food components
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  18. The role of dietary calcium in bone health
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  19. Magnesium and Osteoporosis: Current State of Knowledge and Future Research Directions
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  22. \’Sweet potato\’ \’cooked\’ \’boiled\’ \’without skin\’ with salt
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