Kohlrabi Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

Kohlrabi

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman 

Kohlrabi—sometimes called a German turnip— is a bulbous vegetable, related to cabbage. It is described as having a taste that is a mix between cabbage and broccoli.

Kohlrabi has two edible portions: the round bulb and the bright green leaves. The bulb is usually light green or deep purple depending on the variety. It can be consumed raw, steamed, roasted, or boiled. Kohlrabi is an excellent source of vitamin C and can be a versatile and nutritious addition to salads or savory vegetable dishes.

Kohlrabi Nutrition Facts

The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for 1 cup (135g) of raw kohlrabi.

  • Calories: 37
  • Fat: 0.1g
  • Sodium: 27mg
  • Carbohydrates: 8g
  • Fiber: 4.9g
  • Sugars: 3.5g
  • Protein: 2.3g

Carbs

One cup of raw kohlrabi contains 8 grams of carbohydrate, 3.5 grams of natural sugars and almost 5 grams of fiber. The USDA recommends that adults get between 28 and 34 grams of fiber per day (depending on your age and gender).

The glycemic index of kohlrabi is estimated to be 20, making it a low-glycemic food. Foods with a lower glycemic index are digested more slowly and cause a more gradual, steady rise in blood glucose levels.

Fats

Like many vegetables, kohlrabi is extremely low in fat providing less than one gram per serving.

Protein

Kohlrabi provides just over 2 grams of protein in a one-cup (raw) serving.

Vitamins and Minerals

Kohlrabi is an excellent source of vitamin C. One cup of raw kohlrabi provides 140% (83.7mg) of your recommended daily intake. Kohlrabi is also a good source of vitamin B6, a water-soluble vitamin that plays an important role in the metabolism of carbs, fats, and especially protein.

Minerals in kohlrabi include potassium (14% of your recommended daily intake), copper (9%), manganese (9%), magnesium (6%), phosphorus (6%), and smaller amounts of calcium, and iron.

Health Benefits

As part of a nutritious and healthy meal plan, kohlrabi may provide certain evidence-based health benefits.

Protects Against Cell Damage

Vitamin C acts as a cell-protecting antioxidant in the body. Experts advise that we consume antioxidants in food (such as fruits and vegetables) rather than taking an antioxidant supplement. Antioxidants are believed to help reduce cell damage caused by free radicals.

May Boost Cancer Prevention

Kohlrabi is a member of the cruciferous vegetable family—Brassica oleracea—along with broccoli, cauliflower, kale, collard greens, and more. According to the National Cancer Institute, compounds called glucosinolates within these vegetables may help prevent certain types of cancer by inactivating carcinogens and protecting cells from DNA damage. However, only animal and in vitro studies have shown this benefit. Studies in humans are inconclusive.

May Reduce Inflammation

Both green and red kohlrabi have been studied for their health benefits by researchers who published their report in a 2014 issue of Preventative Nutrition and Food Science. They determined that extracts from red kohlrabi exhibited stronger anti-inflammatory benefits than green kohlrabi with study authors concluding that red kohlrabi might be useful as a potent anti-inflammatory agent.

May Protect Against Diabetes

The same study authors also investigated extracts from kohlrabi for their anti-diabetic effects. Again, red kohlrabi exhibited significantly stronger anti-diabetic effects. Researchers attributed the higher total phenolic content of red kohlrabi with providing this benefit.

Better Heart Health

Studies support the fact that a higher intake of foods with dietary fiber is linked to less cardiovascular disease and plays a role in obesity prevention. Recommendations usually suggest that we consume leafy green vegetables, whole-grains, and brightly-colored fruits. Some researchers, however, believe that white vegetables, including kohlrabi, potatoes, cauliflowers, turnips, onions, and parsnips should also be recommended for the fiber and other nutrients that they provide.

Allergies

There are reports of food hypersensitivity to kohlrabi. Food hypersensitivity may cause symptoms such as those experienced with oral allergy syndrome including, severe itching, atopic dermatitis, rash, gastrointestinal symptoms, rhinitis, respiratory problems, and contact allergic reaction.

Adverse Effects

Reports of adverse effects from kohlrabi are lacking. However, one published research review suggests that cruciferous vegetables like kohlrabi may interact with warfarin. They advise those taking the medication speak to their healthcare provider for personalized advice.

Varieties

There are more than 22 kohlrabi plant varieties with colors ranging from green to purple, to white, and even blue kohlrabi. The most common variety that you are most likely to find in the store is green kohlrabi, although some stores also stock purple kohlrabi.

When It’s Best

Kohlrabi is a very quick-growing plant, making it an excellent crop for local farmers. From seed to harvest can take as little as two months, allowing for multiple rounds of growing within a harvest season.

Most kohlrabi is harvested from spring to fall. The purple varieties are hardier and will often be harvested in the late summer to mid-fall.

When choosing kohlrabi at the store, look for bulbs that are firm. Avoid kohlrabi that is split or has signs of rot or mildew.

Storage and Food Safety

The best place to store kohlrabi for the long-term is in a root cellar where it can stay fresh through an entire winter season. But if you don't have a root cellar, kohlrabi can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a month.

You can freeze kohlrabi, but it is best to blanch it first. Then store in the freezer in air-tight bags for up to a year.

How to Prepare

Kohlrabi can be enjoyed raw or cooked. When eaten raw it is reminiscent of broccoli only milder and with a peppery edge.

To prepare the vegetable, you want to cut off the outer layer with a sharp vegetable peeler. Once you trim away the tougher outer layer of the bulb, the inner flesh is more tender and pale green in color. Fresh kohlrabi leaves can simply be snipped off with kitchen shears. Chop or tear the leaves and enjoy raw in a salad if they are not tough. The bulb can be sliced, peeled, chopped, or grated as desired.

Raw kohlrabi is an excellent addition to slaws and salads when grated or thinly sliced. To grate, use a box grater or a food processor with a shredding blade. You can also spiralize for short and delicate curls that can be enjoyed raw or gently cooked.

Cooking kohlrabi mellows out the flavor, making it more tender and much sweeter. To cook, roast in a hot oven (400 to 425 degrees F) until tender and golden brown. Roast along with other quick-cooking vegetables such as cauliflower, broccoli, and onions. You can also take roasted kohlrabi a step further by pureeing it into soup along with chicken or vegetable broth, cooked potato, and fresh herbs; top with a dollop of sour cream or creme fraiche, if desired. You can also steam or sautee with olive oil and garlic. The greens are a wonderful addition to soups, omelets, and stir-fries. 

Recipes

Healthy Kohlrabi Recipes to Try

In recipes, use kohlrabi instead of other vegetables such as cabbage, broccoli, turnips or radishes.

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Article Sources
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