Facts about Turnip Nutrition
Some foods are just naturally better for us than others, such as the turnip; nutrition of this root vegetable doesn’t just apply to the root bulb but to the greens as well. An all round health food, the turnip does not receive nearly as many accolades as it should despite its high nutritional value.
A bulbous vegetable that can either be off white or purple in color, the turnip is a valuable food that, sadly, goes largely ignored in the home kitchen. In southern parts of the United States, it is much more appreciated, especially the green leafy tops. If more people knew how nutritional the vegetable truly is, it is likely that they would give it more attention.
The humble turnip is a hard, dense vegetable that grows underground; making it a root vegetable that is generally harvested in the fall. The most common method of cooking the turnip is boiling after the outermost skin, along with the tops and the roots, is removed. It should be cut into chunks before adding to a pot of cold water, similar to boiling potatoes. They are cooked through when a fork is easily able to pierce the chunks. Turnips can be added to soups and stews, or simply mashed and eaten as a side dish.
In years past, the turnip like other root vegetables were stored and used as nutritional fare during the long, cold winter months. Packed with vitamins, nutrients and fiber, they were vital for health and vitality in early days of forging the United States. Pioneers were easily able to keep the turnip in root cellars, which were cool, dark and damp. With the later development of refrigeration, the use of root cellars was no longer necessary. Unfortunately, the turnip does not store well in refrigerated conditions. In addition, with vegetables widely available today in grocery stores, the need for storing them has diminished.
Value of turnip nutrition
While the turnip may have lost some of its value as a dietary staple during hungry times, it retains all of its nutritional value. Dietary fiber, folate, calcium, potassium, copper, manganese, vitamin C and B6 are all vital elements required by the human body, and are all available in one globe shaped turnip. Calories are very low at approximately 57 in a one cup serving, with no cholesterol, minimal sodium, sugar and saturated fat yet packed with 5 grams of protein and the same for dietary fiber.
As nutritional as the root vegetable is, a great deal of the beneficial elements of a turnip are often thrown away. The succulent green leaves that adorn the top of the turnip are high in vitamins A, C, E, B6 as well as folate, copper, calcium and fiber. They are also high in beta carotene, which has been recognized as being beneficial in the body’s defense against free radicals. Turnip greens are not eaten raw, but rather are cooked and served much in the same way as spinach.
A little known fact about turnips is that they are excellent foods to be incorporated into a diet. Their high nutritional value yet low caloric count makes them an ideal food to aid in weight loss, or in maintaining weight. Many so called “diet” foods, such as lettuce, may be low in calories but are also low in nutrition and often flavor. Not so with the turnip, whose delicate flavor is similar to that of cabbage, rutabaga and Brussels sprouts without bitterness. In fact, many people enjoy munching on thinly cut turnip “sticks”, providing a tasty and crunchy treat that is satisfying to the tooth and waistline.
For those who have never tried turnips, they are in for a delightful treat. As healthy as it is delicious, the turnip is a great addition to any diet.