What Is Turnip?
The turnip is a root vegetable from the Brassicaceae family. It’s round—about the same size as an apple—light purple at the top where it has been exposed to sunlight, and the lower portion is white. Turnip health benefits are many, and you won’t ever go wrong by buying and consuming turnips in moderate quantities.
Though there is some debate over whether it was first grown in Northern Europe or middle and eastern Asia, the humble turnip went on to become a necessary part of the ancient Greek and Roman diets.
In fact, Pliny the Elder, the famous Roman natural philosopher, spoke highly of the turnip and described it as “one of the most important vegetables” of the era. Up to two feet tall in height, the turnip bears thin, elongated, hairy leaves and is best grown in cold weather. The turnip root is actually a swollen fusion of the original root of the plant and base of the young stem just above it.
You can purchase the vegetables all year long as they are easy to store, but most people prefer the small, sweet turnips harvested in the spring and autumn months. Even though turnips are usually associated with beets and potatoes, their real cousins are radishes and arugula.
Turnips are mild in taste, similar to a potato but with the sweetness of a carrot, but they have multiple uses in the kitchen.
Turnip Nutrition Facts
Serving size: 1 cup, cubes (130 g)
|Total Carbohydrate||8.4 g||3.00%|
|Dietary Fiber||2.3 g||9.00%|
|Vitamin C||27.3 mg||46.00%|
|Vitamin K||0.1 mcg||0.00%|
|Vitamin B6||0.1 mg||6.00%|
|Total Fat||0.1 g||0.00%|
|Polyunsaturated Fat||0.1 g||N/A|
Turnip has no saturated fat or cholesterol, which is very good for your health. On the other hand, it has large amounts of vitamin C, healthy amounts of minerals like calcium, potassium, and manganese (nine percent daily value), and dietary fiber.
Amazing Potential Health Benefits of Turnip
1. Helps Lower Blood Pressure
Turnips contain dietary nitrates, which are beneficial for the network of arteries and veins throughout your body. A 2013 study published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology suggests some benefits include lower blood pressure, improved endothelial dysfunction, and the reduced clumping together of blood platelets. However, the long-term risks of a high-nitrate diet have not been studied enough.
The potassium in turnips may help in decreasing your blood pressure by drawing sodium out of your body through urine and acting as a vasodilator.
2. Helps in Fighting Cancer
Turnips contain important phytonutrients called indoles, which, according to the Linus Pauling Institute, can reduce your risk of developing lung and colorectal cancers.
According to an in vitro study published in the International Journal of Oncology in 2012, brassinin, a type of indole compound, actually killed human colon cancer cells. This experiment was the first to pinpoint the stage of cancer cell growth the turnip compound had an effect on.
3. Improving Cardiovascular Health
The blood pressure-lowering abilities of the potassium in turnips can help prevent the onset of atherosclerosis, heart attacks, and strokes. Turnips also contain dietary fiber, which may help remove excess cholesterol from your arteries and heart and out of your body.
4. Improves Bone Health
Potassium and calcium, both found in turnips, support the growth and maintenance of healthy bones. If you consume turnips on a regular basis, you may find that joint damage as well as your risk of osteoporosis and rheumatoid arthritis are reduced. The calcium in turnips is essential to the production of connective tissue in our bodies.
5. Aids in Digestion
Studies have shown that a diet high in fiber may reduce your risk of developing intestinal problems such as colorectal cancer and diverticulitis. The fiber in turnips can target diverticulitis by absorbing the water content in the colon, softening your stool and facilitating your bowel movements. Though the origin of the digestive disease is not yet known, it has been observed that people who follow a low-fiber diet are more susceptible to it.
6. Metabolism Booster
Turnips are rich in B vitamins, which are essential to cell metabolism and ensure that all organ systems function normally and hormone levels are stable. A lack of these vitamins could result in the disruption of normal bodily functions.
7. Boosts Immune System
Just one cooked cup of turnip will give you 30% of your daily requirement of vitamin C. According to a 2006 study review, published in the Annals of Nutrition & Metabolism, having the required amounts of vitamin C can help in reducing the symptoms and duration of infections like a common cold.
A healthy intake of the vitamin can also prevent and help in battling other conditions like pneumonia and diarrhea infections. This effect is even greater when you combine turnips with other vitamin C-rich foods such as guava, red peppers, black currant, and kiwi fruit.
8. Prevents Development of Atherosclerosis
Turnips are rich in the antioxidants vitamin E, vitamin C, and beta-carotene, which are thought to combat the damage caused by free radicals in our body. These harmful molecules may contribute to the oxidation of cholesterol and aggregation of blood platelets, leading to atherosclerosis.
How Can Turnip Be Used?
With their zesty, peppery flavor, turnips can be consumed both in raw and cooked form, but the best way to bring out their sweetness is to roast them. The best thing about turnips is that you can use them as a substitute for potatoes in any recipe you want. They can be mashed, baked, boiled, and steamed.
Here are several easy ways to use turnips in your cooking:
- Boil and mash cubed turnips for an interesting twist on mashed potatoes.
- Replace oily French fries with baked turnip fries; you’ll get the same crispy outside and fluffy inside.
- Chop or shred raw turnips to use as a salad topper.
- Make roasted chicken with vegetables and turnips to have a full meal.
- Bake or boil turnips and use them to make stews, soups, or stir-fry meals.
- Steam turnips and have them with some butter, salt, or lemon juice for flavor.
- Try some cubed turnip in your next slow-cooked roast.
- Slice young turnips and eat them raw with a dip or peanut butter.
- Take a chance and add shredded turnip to your favorite coleslaw recipe.
- Enjoy maple-glazed turnips as a side dish with pork, beef, or chicken.
How to Cook Turnip
Here are some interesting and delicious turnip recipes that will get you all busy and bustling in your kitchen.
Roasted Potato and Turnip Mash
6 medium-sized Yukon Gold potatoes (peeled and cubed)
2 tablespoons extra-light olive oil
salt & pepper
½ cup warm whole milk
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 sprig fresh thyme (finely chopped leaves after removing from the stem)
2 turnips (peeled and cubed)
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Put the potatoes and turnips on a baking sheet in a single layer. Then drizzle them with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
- Roast the vegetables for around 20 minutes. Then, after removing the pan from the oven, stir the vegetables and continue roasting for another 20 minutes. The potatoes and turnips will become tender and lightly golden brown when you are finished.
- Transfer the vegetables to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Whip the potatoes on medium speed until they become creamy, but such that chunks are still present.
- Reduce the speed of the mixer and add in the milk, melted butter, and thyme leaves. Taste the mash and season it with extra salt and pepper as per taste. Now your dish is ready to serve.
Creamy Turnip Soup
4 medium-sized turnips (about 1½ pounds)
1½ cups thinly sliced turnip greens or spinach (divided)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (divided)
1 tablespoon butter
1 medium onion (sliced)
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
½ teaspoon salt plus a pinch (divided)
¼ teaspoon freshly ground white pepper plus a pinch (divided)
4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
¼ cup shredded carrot
2 tablespoons thinly sliced scallion greens
2 teaspoons white-wine vinegar
- Peel and slice the turnips. Heat one tablespoon of oil and butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring for five minutes until it becomes brown.
- Put in the turnips, rosemary, a half-teaspoon of salt and a quarter-teaspoon of white pepper; stir well to mix the ingredients. Cover and cook, stirring once or twice, for 10 minutes.
- Add the broth, increase the heat to high, and let it boil. Then let it simmer, cover, and cook for 10 to 12 minutes, until the turnips become tender.
- In the meantime, toss the turnip greens (or spinach) in a medium-sized bowl along with carrot, scallion greens, vinegar, the remaining one tablespoon of oil, and a pinch of salt and pepper.
- Puree the soup in the pan by using an immersion blender or transfer to a regular blender and blend until it becomes smooth. Be careful when you are pureeing the hot liquid.
- Serve each portion of soup topped with a hearty quarter cup of the salad.
The Final Word on Turnips
Turnips are round, apple-sized root vegetables belonging to the Brassicaceae family. Typically, they are light purple at the top, where they have been exposed to sunshine, while the lower portion is white. Turnips are thought to be native to Northern Europe and parts of the Middle East and Asia.
Turnips are popular all over the world today for their versatile taste and the potential health benefits they provide. The nutrients in turnips may be effective in lowering blood pressure, improving cardiovascular health, improving bone health, fighting cancer, boosting the metabolism, helping in digestion, preventing atherosclerosis, and boosting the immune system.
Turnips can be a regular feature of your diet because they can be easily stored all year round. And what’s more, you can cook lip-smacking dishes with them such as roasted potato and turnip mash and dreamy creamy turnip soup. Turnips can be used in a variety of ways and add zest and flavor to your cooking. So make the turnip a staple in your kitchen pantry today.
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