Turnip Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

Turnip, annotated

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman 

The turnip (Brassica rapa) is a root vegetable that has a flavor that changes as it matures. As members of the same family as cabbages, kale, broccoli, and cauliflower (cruciferous vegetables) their flavor is often compared to carrots when they are young and potatoes when they are mature. The strength of the flavor also becomes milder with cooking.

Although most people prefer to cook turnips, these versatile veggies can also be consumed raw. They provide a small boost of fiber along with a healthy dose of vitamin C, making them a smart addition to your diet.

Turnip Nutrition Facts

The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for 1 cup (156g) of turnip cubes that have been boiled without salt and drained.

  • Calories: 34
  • Fat: 0.1g
  • Sodium: 25mg
  • Carbohydrates: 7.8g
  • Fiber: 3.1g
  • Sugars: 4.6g
  • Protein: 1.1g

Carbs

A one-cup serving of boiled turnips provides just 34 calories and most of that is carbohydrate. You'll consume nearly 8 grams of carbs in a single serving, but just over 3 grams are fiber. You'll also consume about 4.6 grams of naturally-occurring sugar and a small amount of starch.

Turnips are believed to have a glycemic index of 62. The glycemic load of cooked turnips is estimated to be 2. Glycemic load takes portion size into account when estimating a food's impact on blood sugar levels.

Fats

Turnips are nearly fat-free, providing just 0.1 grams of fat per one-cup serving.

Protein

There is just over 1 gram of protein in each serving of turnips.

Vitamins and Minerals

Turnips are an excellent source of vitamin C, providing 18mg or about 20% of the recommended daily allowance. You'll also get small doses of other nutrients including potassium, manganese, calcium, and vitamin B6.

Health Benefits

Adding turnips to your diet may provide certain health benefits, such as disease prevention and healthy weight management.

Improved Heart Health

The fiber in turnips may improve heart health, according to a large number of studies that associate increased consumption of fiber-rich foods, especially fruits and vegetables, to a decrease in cardiovascular disease.

This may be one of the many reasons that the American Heart Association recommends planning meals with more fiber-rich foods such as whole grains and fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables.

Weight Loss

At just 34 calories per one-cup serving, turnips can be a smart addition to your diet if weight loss or weight management is your goal. The fiber in turnips (3.1g) helps you meet the recommended daily intake of 28 grams per day.

Fiber is the indigestible part of carbohydrates. Eating foods that are high in fiber helps you to feel full longer after eating. For this reason, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends low-calorie foods with fiber for weight management because they slow the speed at which food passes from the stomach to the rest of the digestive system.

Reduced Risk of Disease

In one study, researchers named certain foods that they identify as powerhouse fruits and vegetables. According to the study authors, these are foods that are strongly associated with reduced chronic disease risk. These foods provide higher levels of bioavailable nutrients, including vitamin C. Both turnips and turnip greens (the top leafy part of the turnip) were included in the list of powerhouse vegetables, although the greens ranked higher than the bulb.

Cruciferous vegetables, like turnips, are also high in glucosinolates, which are phytonutrients thought to be helpful in protecting our bodies from certain types of cancers. Glucosinates also has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. Studies in humans suggest cruciferous vegetables provide cancer protection, especially breast cancer. 

Better Skin

Turnips are an excellent source of vitamin C. One of the many benefits of this vitamin is that it is necessary for the production of collagen, the main protein in your skin. Vitamin C may also assist in antioxidant protection and protect against age-related skin decline and UV-induced photodamage.

Authors of a research review published in a 2017 issue of Nutrients noted that healthy skin is positively associated with higher fruit and vegetable intake in a number of studies. Although they note that the active component in the fruit and vegetables responsible for the observed benefit can't be identified, they note that vitamin C availability may be a factor.

Cell Protection

The vitamin C in turnips also provides certain benefits to other cells in the body. Vitamin C acts as an antioxidant in the body. Antioxidants are believed to prevent oxidative stress caused by exposure to free radicals in our environment (such as cigarette smoke) or free radicals made by the body. Experts recommend that we consume antioxidants in foods such as fruits and vegetables, rather than taking an antioxidant supplement.

Allergies

There are published reports of allergy to both turnips and turnip greens, although reports are not common. If you suspect an allergy to turnips, seek the advice of your healthcare provider.

Adverse Effects

There are no known interactions between turnips and any medications.

However, turnip greens are known to be high in vitamin K. Those who take warfarin should speak to their healthcare provider before including turnip greens in their diet. It is recommended that those on these medications keep a steady intake of vitamin K from day to day.

Varieties

There are different varieties of turnips with different sizes and different colors. You may see turnips that are purple, red, or gold. Turnips may be the size of a radish or the size of a large beet.

The most common turnip is the purple-top turnip which is often found in the produce section of the grocery store. They are medium in size and have a mild taste that becomes sweeter when cooked.

When It’s Best

Turnip season runs from fall into spring.

When looking for turnips, look for firm texture and bright color on the bulb and greens that are not limp or wilted. If there are no greens attached to the turnips, that's okay. Turnip greens are sometimes removed and sold separately.

Storage and Food Safety

According to USDA data, turnips can keep for two weeks when stored in the refrigerator. Simply rinse the vegetables and store them in plastic bags in the crisper section of the refrigerator.

Frozen turnips stay fresh for up to 8–10 months when sealed in air-tight containers and kept in the freezer.

How to Prepare

Turnips can be cooked almost any way you'd cook a potato. They can be roasted in the oven, boiled, steamed, cooked in the microwave, sauteed on the stove, or even grilled. You can even make low-carb oven-roasted turnip French fries.

Turnips can also be served raw (especially the small baby turnips), grated, cooked in chunks, mashed, or cooked with meat as in a pot roast. The only caveat is that turnips cook faster than potatoes because they are a lot less dense.

Herbs and seasonings that go well with turnips include garlic, ginger, bacon, mustard, cinnamon, apples, parsley, thyme, and tarragon. Experiment with this low-carb root vegetable and see how you can replace potatoes with turnips.

If you find this cruciferous vegetable to be you may have a genetic variant that allows you to taste a certain chemical (phenylthiocarbamide) which tastes bitter.

Recipes

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Article Sources
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