I continually find it interesting when I research a vegetable. I get all excited about the nutritional benefits and am always amazed. Always. No exception with the turnip this time either!
The turnip has been a popular staple in the European diet since prehistoric times. I would’ve grouped in with root vegetables like potatoes and beets, but it’s actually part of the cruciferous family. Along with its nutritional powerhouse cruciferous cousins like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, arugula and kale, turnips provide a high amount of nutrients for a low amount of calories.
The leafy greens of the turnip are also edible and provide a bevy of health benefits. This time we are just focusing on the root, which is most often a creamy white color with a purple top where it has been exposed to the sun.
Possible health benefits of consuming turnips
Fighting cancer – Turnips are a cruciferous vegetable and they are cancer fighter powerhouses! Since the 1980s, consuming high amounts of cruciferous vegetables like turnips, cauliflower and cabbage have been associated with a lower risk of cancer.
Treating diverticulosis – High fiber diets have been shown to decrease flare-ups of diverticulitis by absorbing water in the colon and making bowel movements easier to pass. Eating a healthful, fruit and vegetable and fiber-filled diet can cut pressure and inflammation in the colon. One cup of cooked turnips provides 4 grams of fiber.
Lowering blood pressure – Without getting too technical the bottom line here is that foods like turnips and collard greens contain dietary nitrates, which have been shown to be quite helpful to your vascular system. That’s always helpful in lowering blood pressure naturally!
In general, a diet rich in all fruits and vegetables has been shown to lower blood pressure as well. Turnips also have potassium, which is thought to bring blood pressure down by releasing sodium out of the body and helping arteries dilate. Score!
Weight loss, digestion and detox – Turnips and other cruciferous vegetables that are high in fiber help keep you feeling full longer and are also low in calories. Eating high fiber meals keep blood sugar stable and it keeps things moving regularly! Simple, simple.
This is exciting! Recent studies have shown that dietary fiber may play a role in regulating the immune system and inflammation. You know what that means… a decreasing risk of inflammation-related conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, and obesity.
Healthy vision – Adequate doses of vitamin C have shown to keep your eyes healthy. Vitamin C helps protect against the UV light damage. Two medium turnips and you have met your C needs for the day!
How to add more turnips into your diet
Before we get to the meat of it (pun intended), promise yourself you will give turnips a try. Most people I know look almost frightened when I mention turnips, but after they’ve had my turnip mash or roasted turnips they are surprised. Turnips are a tasty treat sensation!
Choose turnips that are small and heavy for their size. Turnips harvested while young and small will have a sweet, mild flavor. As they continue to grow or age, the flavor gets spicier, and the texture will become rough and woody. Look for green tops that are brightly colored and fresh. You can use the greens for cooking or in a salad.
For you gardeners out there, turnips are super easy to grow and taste fabulous!
Try to store turnips in a cool and dim area, like potatoes. Make sure to wash, trim and peel turnips before use. Turnips have a crisp white inner flesh and a zesty, pepper flavor. They can be eaten raw or cooked, but roasting turnips tends to bring out their best flavor and qualities.
Quick tips for using turnips:
• Boil and mash turnips for a fun alternative to mashed potatoes
• Chop or shred raw turnips for a salad topper
• Add turnips to soup or stew at the same stage you would add potatoes
• Include cubed turnip into your next slow-cooked roast
• Add shredded turnip to your favorite coleslaw recipe.
So, how will you add a turnip into the menu this week?