Why Eat Turnips?
Turnips known scientifically as Brassica rapa have been a staple part of the diet in Europe since ancient times. The vegetable was native to northern parts of Europe and was an important part of the diet in ancient Greece and Rome.
Many people assume they are part of the same root vegetable family as beets and potatoes but in fact they belong to the Brassicaceae family which is the same family as many other healthy cruciferous vegetables including broccoli, kale, cabbage and Brussel sprouts.
Like many of its cousins, turnips are contain a wide variety of healthy nutrients and can help boost your health in a variety of ways. While high in important nutrients, turnips are low in calories and provide a number of potential health benefits from boosting your immunity and digestive health to cancer prevention.
Turnips are round in shape, white on the underside and after exposure to sunlight, a light purple color on top. While it is the bulbous root that is most commonly eaten and used in cooking, the turnip’s greens are also full of nutrition and should not be wasted.
Turnips are rich in various important nutrients and very low in calories. They are an excellent source of dietary fibers, various vitamins especially vitamin C as well as minerals and natural antioxidants.
The following nutritional information is based on a 100 gram serving of raw turnip.
Each serving is only 28 calories and contains no fat. A serving also gives you just 6 grams of carbohydrates with 2 grams of dietary fiber and a gram of protein.
A single turnip serving provides you with a huge amount of vitamin C representing nearly 50% of your recommended daily value. It is also high in iron, manganese, potassium and contains a decent supply of vitamin B6.
Many people discard the leafy green part of the turnip and this is a waste. Those leafy tops are more densely packed with nutrition than the bulbous roots. They are an especially rich source of antioxidants including carotenoids, lutein and xanthin as well as vitamin A and C. The leaves also contain vitamin K known to regulate inflammatory responses as well as linoleic acid.
The greens of the turnip also contain various phytonutrients known for their antioxidant actions including quercetin, kaempferol and myricetin.
Health Benefits of Eating Turnips
1) Digestive Health
Turnips contain a decent amount of healthy dietary fiber. We have all been told how important fiber is to our health but estimates suggest that the majority of people fall short of their required levels. Studies have demonstrated that diets high in fiber can impart a variety of health benefits including digestive health and weight management.
Eating a diet rich in fiber can help your digestive system work more efficiently. It also helps treat common digestive issues like diarrhea, indigestion, bloating and constipation. A cup of healthy turnips provides you with around 4 grams of healthy dietary fiber and don’t forget the greens.
2) Blood Pressure
According to studies, food which contains dietary nitrates such as turnips and other members of their family have a variety of excellent heart benefits. These include the ability to help reduce blood pressure making them an excellent choice for people suffering from hypertension.
Diets rich in fresh fruit and vegetables are associated with healthier cardiovascular systems as well as a reduction in blood pressure. Turnips also contain a decent supply of potassium which is also linked to a reduction in blood pressure. Potassium helps release sodium from the body and also helps the arteries to dilate meaning blood pressure is reduced as well as the risk of heart disease and stroke.
3) Cancer Prevention
Researchers have known for some time that eating plenty of cruciferous produce such as turnips, cabbages and cauliflower helped to reduce the risks of a person developing cancer. More recent research has discovered that a compound in these vegetables called sulphoraphane, responsible for their bitter flavor, also gives them the potential to help fight cancer.
Several studies have been done to test the effects of sulforaphane on multiple forms of cancer including prostate, pancreatic and esophogal cancer and melanoma. According to research, food containing this compound have the potential to treat cancer as part of a future therapy. (1)
Turnips also contain a type of phytonutrient called indoles. Research published in 2012 found that one type of these indoles called brassinin helped destroy colon cancer cells. (2)
4) Weight Control
As we have already mentioned, turnips provide us with a decent amount of dietary fiber which has plenty of health benefits. One of the benefits of fiber is that it can help you manage your weight. Turnips are very low in calories but because of their fiber content, they can help you to feel fuller and resist the temptation to snack between meals.
Fiber can also help to keep blood sugar levels more stable and improve the working of the digestive system overall. This can help us to excrete waste more efficiently and avoid many digestive issues like constipation.
5) Improved Vision
When thinking of vitamin C, we often think of fruits especially the citrus fruits and less of vegetables like turnips. Turnips however are a great source of vitamin C with a single serving providing around half your recommended daily value of the nutrient. Adequate consumption of antioxidant vitamin C has enormous health benefits including eye benefits. It help to keep the eyes healthy, reduces the risk of macular degeneration and and offers better protection from damage by UV light.
6) Skin Health
Turnips are a great source of the natural antioxidants so essential for our health. Antioxidants like vitamin C and A as well as beta-carotene and manganese can help reverse the damage done by destructive free radicals in the environment. One of the amazing benefits of these antioxidants is the improved appearance and health that they provide our skin.
The antioxidant found in turnips can help your skin to stay smooth and bright while combating the premature aging effects caused by free radicals.
7) Personal Hygiene
This sounds strange, but turnips are actually beneficial to your personal hygiene. Turnip juice is considered an excellent way of keeping body odor at bay.
All you need to do, is grate up a medium sized turnip then squeeze out as much of its juice as possible. Apply the juice to your armpits every morning before leaving the house.
8) For Cracked Feet
You can also use turnips as a natural remedy for cracked feet and heels. Boil up a dozen turnips and their green parts. Simmer for a while remove the turnips and use the remaining solution as a soak for your feet. If you do this every night before bed for 3 or 4 days, you should notice the effect. Your feet will be considerably softer and smoother than they were.
How to Cook Turnips
Turnips keep well and can be stored for a long time before you uses them. When buying turnips, look for vegetables with firm and heavy roots. They should also have smooth skin and a sweet aroma.
Although they are somewhat bland in flavor, you can add a few crunchy slices raw on your salads. You can also boil them and use them as an ingredient in soups and stews.