Top 6 Health Benefits of Eating Turnips Backed by Research

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A turnip is a root vegetable that’s grown in mild climates throughout the world. Known to the scientific community as Brassica rapa subsp. Rapa, it’s believed to have originated more than 4,000 years ago in countries throughout Eurasia. Although they’re commonly associated with beets and potatoes, turnips are more closely related to radishes, arugula, and other members of the mustard family. Furthermore, while turnips can be safely eaten raw, they’re most palatable when cooked; common preparations for turnips include baked and in stews, soups, and stir-fries. Turnips look like beets in shape but are creamy-white with only touches of purple. Moreover, turnips taste like a cross between a cabbage and a radish; they’re slightly sweet with a peppery aftertaste. A popular winter produce, turnips are a nutrient-dense root vegetable that’s rich in vitamin C, calcium, dietary fiber, and an assortment of other beneficial vitamins and minerals. Speaking of, take a look at some of the health benefits you might reap by including turnips in your diet. 

Important Note: Each of the claims made herein is supported by the most current scientific research at the time of this publication. 

Packed With Nutrition

Turnips are a very nutritious vegetable; they’re low in calories and rich in nutrients. Notably, both the root and leaves of turnips are edible, and they’re equally nutritious. A 1-cup serving of turnips contains under 40 calories and about 8 grams of carbohydrates. Some of the highest nutrient concentrations come from fiber, vitamins C and K, folate, and calcium. The vitamin C content is good for immunity and antioxidative protection, while it also improves iron absorption and regulates cholesterol levels. The vitamin K content plays a role in blood clotting and the vitamin A is good for eye, skin, and lung health. Lastly, the folate found in turnips is good for blood cell formation and fetal health. 

General Consensus: 5/5 and here is why. Turnips are a nutrient-dense vegetable that’s low in calories, packed with nutrition, and good for your health. 

Contain Anti-Cancer Properties

Significantly, turnips contain several plant compounds that are associated with a reduced risk for cancer. For starters, vitamin C is an antioxidant that prevents the growth and proliferation of cancer. Additionally, turnips are rich in glucosinolates, a plant compound that’s linked to a reduced risk for lung, colon, and rectal cancers among others. Turnips are also fraught with flavonoids which scientists have linked to a lowered risk for some cancer types. Specifically, the flavonoids known as anthocyanins can inhibit the growth of cancer cells as well as reduce the risk for degenerative diseases. 

General Consensus: 5/5 and here is why. Turnips are a good source of vitamin C, glucosinolates, and anthocyanins, all of which have anti-cancer properties. 

Help Regulate Blood Sugar Levels

Although many diabetics manage blood sugar levels with pharmaceuticals, a mindful diet is also important in managing diabetes. In animal studies, rats on a high-sugar diet were treated with turnip extract, and the results showed lower blood sugar levels and improved insulin levels when compared to those in the control group. The same study also showed improved blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels with the turnip extract treatment. A similar study that treated diabetics with turnip greens found the same anti-diabetic results. 

General Consensus: 3/5 and here is why. While the results of the aforementioned animal studies are promising, human research is needed to confirm turnips’ antidiabetic effects. 

Loaded With Antioxidants

Turnips are a worthy addition to your diet because they’re loaded with powerful antioxidants that fend off the harmful free radicals that might otherwise lead to illness. Of note, turnips are rich in glucosinolates which break down into indoles and isothiocyanates with anti-inflammatory properties. Plant compounds such as these have been shown in clinical trials to reduce the oxidative stress associated with chronic illnesses such as arthritis, hypertension, and some cancer types. Moreover, one of the indole types in turnips that plays a significant role in anti-inflammation is called arvelexin; this indole was shown in animal studies to majorly reduce inflammation in the colons of mice. Lastly, arvelexin blocks harmful free radicals such as nitric oxide which could otherwise lead to disease-inducing inflammation. 

General Consensus: 3.5/5 and here is why. Turnips are a good source of anti-inflammatory properties that reduce oxidative stress; unfortunately, much of the research on turnips’ anti-inflammatory effects are limited to animal and test-tube studies. 

Contains Antibacterial Properties

Another benefit of eating turnips is that they can protect you from bacterial infections. Again, it’s the glucosinolate content in turnips that breaks down into isothiocyanates that prevent both microbial and bacterial infections. Research has found that isothiocyanates successfully inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria such as E. coli and S. aureus. In fact, studies have concluded that the isothiocyanates are up to 87% effective against some strains of the latter bacteria when pharmaceuticals are ineffective. Furthermore, studies suggest that by combining isothiocyanates with antibiotics, fighting harmful infections is more probable. 

General Consensus: 3.5/5 and here is why. A handful of research supports the theory that turnips have bacteria-fighting components, however, more research is needed. 

Promotes Bone Health

Research suggests that eating a turnip-rich diet may prevent osteoporosis and strengthen bones. Turnips and turnip greens are rich in vitamin K and calcium, both of which, when consumed in adequate doses, lead to optimal bone health. Significantly, a single serving of turnips contains more than the daily recommended value of vitamin K. Moreover, turnips are the most calcium-dense vegetable; calcium helps bones to maintain their strength. Finally, vitamin A, phosphorus, and magnesium, all of which are found in laudable concentrations in turnips, are also supportive of bone health. 

General Consensus: 5/5 and here is why. Turnips are rich in vitamin K, calcium, and other nutrients that all play an essential role in bone health. 

Unlikely Benefits: Further Research Needed

May Protect the Liver

General Consensus: 2.5/5 and here is why. Although turnips contain vitamin C, flavonoids, and polyphenols, all of which are essential to the regrowth of liver cells, there’s very little research on turnips’ effect on liver health. 

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