Turnips are nutritious cruciferous root vegetables used extensively in a variety of cuisines across Europe, Asia, and Eastern America. Turnip, which is scientifically known as Brassica rapa, belongs to the Cruciferae family, which includes super foods like kale, collards, cabbage, brussels sprouts, and broccoli.
Small young turnips called “baby turnips” are roots harvested early in the growing stage and are delicate, sweeter and eaten raw in salads. Mature turnips have a more pronounced flavor with a firm and woody texture.
Turnip greens are the leaves of the turnip plant, smaller, and more tender than their cousin, collards. Turnip greens are slightly bitter but delicious in flavor and are an important vegetable in traditional Southern American cooking.
Turnips are an ancient vegetable that was domesticated before the 15th century BC. Wild forms of the hot turnip and its relatives the mustards and radishes are found over west Asia and Europe, suggesting their domestication took place somewhere in that area. The Greeks and Romans regarded the turnip very highly and developed several new varieties. The advent of the potato in Europe created a slump in their cultivation and consumption. Turnips were introduced into North America by the early European settlers and colonists. They grew well in the South and became a popular food in the local cuisine of this region.
18 Health Benefits Of Turnips
1. Boosts Cardiovascular Health
Turnips possess great anti-inflammatory properties in the form vitamin K. Turnip greens aid in digestion by absorbing more amount of bile which uses up the cholesterol present in the body. Folate, further helps boost the cardiovascular system against heart attack, ischemic heart disease, and atherosclerosis.
2. Promotes Bone Health
Regular consumption of Turnip inhibits joint damage, risk of osteoporosis and the incidence of Rheumatoid Arthritis due to high levels of calcium and potassium. Calcium supports the body’s production of connective tissues, helping prevent bone diseases such as osteoporosis.
3. Antimicrobial Benefits
Turnip sprouts provide high levels of glucosinolates, sulfur-containing anti fungal, antibacterial, and anti parasitic compounds that provide protection against benign prostatic hypertrophy, an inflammatory condition that can lead to prostate cancer.
4. Detox Support
Turnip greens contain key glucosinolates- gluconasturtiian and glucotropaeolin, which provide vital antioxidant nutrients, to boost Phase 1 detoxification activities, and sulfur-containing nutrients, to boost Phase 2 activities.
5. Maintains Lung Health
The Vitamin A deficiency created by certain carcinogens (eg. cigarette smoke), causes lung inflammation, emphysema and other respiratory disturbances. Turnip greens are a rich source of Vitamin A, helping maintain healthy lungs.
6. Promotes Digestion
Turnip greens are high in fiber which helps support the body’s digestive system. Glucosinolates, also help the stomach process bacteria like Helicobacter pylori, linked to the development of duodenal ulcers and stomach cancer.
7. Prevents Atherosclerosis
Atherosclerosis, a serious condition that damages the blood vessels, is triggered by presence of high number of free radicals in the body, causing oxidation of bad cholesterol and clumping of platelets in our body. Antioxidants like Vitamins E, C and beta carotene in Turnips, fight and negate free radicals in the body.
8. Prevents Cancer
Turnips contain high levels of antioxidants, phytochemicals, and glucosinolates- that break into two phytonutrients, indoles and isothiocyanates. These help the liver process toxins, fight the effects of carcinogens, and can inhibit the growth of tumor cells in lung and colorectal cancers.
9. Encourages Weight Loss
High fiber content, in Turnips, regulates metabolism, controls body weight and supports a healthy and active colon. They have negligent calories, no fat, sodium or cholesterol, and are packed to the brim with nutrients, making it a super diet food.
10. Cures Asthma
Abundant Vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant, imparts Turnips strong anti-inflammatory properties. These are effective in curing asthma, lessening wheezing and curbing other symptoms of asthma.
11. Boosts Immunity
The beta-carotene content in Turnips helps the body in producing healthy membranes, the base for our immune system against a gamut of infections. Turnips are rich in vitamin C, an important antioxidant that can optimize your immune system and help your body absorb iron.
12. Promotes Eye Health
Turnip greens are a rich source of Lutein, a carotenoid that promotes eye health and prevents ocular diseases such as macular degeneration and cataracts.
13. Antioxidant Superstore
Apart from providing conventional antioxidant nutrients vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, and manganese, Turnip greens extend into the realm of phytonutrients (Hydroxycinnamic acid, quercetin, myricetin, isorhamnetin, and kaempferol). These help lower the risk of oxidative stress in our cells, and combating free radical activity and preventing DNA damage to cells.
14. Improves Skin Health
Vitamins A and especially C, fights and eliminates free radicals which are responsible for causing skin ageing, thereby keeping spots, wrinkles and fine lines at bay.
15. Foot Care
External application of Turnips and soaking in Turnip stock, helps in the treatment of torn feet, markedly reducing wrinkles as well.
16. Hair Care
Copper, abundant in Turnips, is critical for melanin (color pigment) formation. They are also rich in antioxidants like vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin which help maintain healthy hair.
17. Lessens Body Odour
Turnip juice, in addition to its great health benefits, is quite beneficial in getting rid of body odor, especially in the summer months.
18. Prevents Common Ailments
The curative power of Turnips is beneficial in preventing several common illnesses such as lack of hunger and hemorrhoids.
Side Effects And Precautions
- Oxalates: Turnip greens are among a small number of foods that contain measurable amounts of oxalates which on becoming too concentrated in body fluids, crystallize and cause health problems for patients with kidney or gallbladder stones.
- Goitrogenic: Individuals with thyroid problems should limit or avoid eating turnips because it contains substances called goitrogens which can interfere with the functioning of the thyroid gland.
- Digestive problems: Turnips contain sulfur compounds that cause flatulence and digestion problem in some people.