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Kohlrabi – Properties, Benefits, Origin, Types, Characteristics

February 3, 2023
kohlrabi benefits health

Find out below what kohlrabi is, what their types and characteristics are. Discover their properties, benefits, and the best way to consume them, among other curious facts about these tubers.

What is kohlrabi?

What is kohlrabi

Kohlrabi is a hybrid cruciferous tuber, or in other words,  a cross between cabbage and turnip. The tuber (root) and its leaves are used in the kitchen, which can be consumed much like other vegetables, such as spinach orchard. The meat of the tuber can be prepared similar to potatoes, either mashed or hoes.

Thanks to its unique flavor, kohlrabi makes it possible to prepare a wide variety of dishes. Many cultures have incorporated it into their staple foods or delicacies. It is considered a healthy alternative to potatoes, as it does not contain as many carbohydrates. Still, it does provide significant amounts of minerals, vitamins, and organic compounds that are beneficial for human health.

Other characteristics and curious facts about kohlrabi

  • This root vegetable is believed to have originated in Bohemia (region of the Czech Republic) in the 17th century as a hybrid between a turnip and wild cabbage.
  • Rutabagas are an important source of vegetable oil. The oil from its seed is used to manufacture lubricants, greases, lacquers, varnishes, soaps, resins, nylon, plastics, insect repellants, stabilizers, and pharmaceutical products.
  • For human consumption, yellow-fleshed kohlrabi is often used, which has a slightly bitter taste. For animal consumption, kohlrabi with whitish meat is used.
  • Rutabaga is often confused with turnips. However, these vegetables have notable differences. Rutabagas are larger, have a white part and a purple part with orange flesh near the stem, and taste sweet after cooking. For its part, the turnips are white, with a purple cover red and spicy flavor.

Types of kohlrabi

  • Purple Top. This is the most common of the kohlrabi types. The Purple Top Kohlrabi is easily confused with the Purple Top Turnip, as they both have a purple top. However, kohlrabi has a yellow or cream-colored background, while the background of turnip is white. This type of kohlrabi has a sweet taste and turns a deep orange color when cooked.
  • Laurentian. Laurentian Kohlrabi is a Canadian variation of the American Purple Top, with meat described as more “creamy.”

Other varieties of kohlrabi are:

  • Joan (fairly disease resistant guy)
  • Helenor (good yields at harvest)
  • Long Island Improved (small taproot with large bulb)
  • Sweet Russian (very frost tolerant crop)
  • Pike (can be left in the field longer than other varieties)

Kohlrabi nutritional properties

Kohlrabi nutritional properties

All cruciferous vegetables are rich in antioxidants and anti-cancer compounds. The most significant nutrient in kohlrabi is vitamin C. One cup of this tuber contains 53% of the recommended daily value of vitamin C, providing antioxidants, immune system strength, and protecting cells against free radical damage. It helps form collagen and thyroxine’s thyroid hormone, stimulates wound healing, fights infection, and promotes healthy bones, teeth, gums, and blood vessels. Although kohlrabi provides only 5% of the recommended daily iron, their vitamin C content increases the absorption of this mineral.

Rutabagas are rich in beta-carotene, potassium, and manganese. They are also a good source of fiber, thiamine, vitamin B6, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus.

Kohlrabi Nutrition Facts (3.5 ounces or 100 grams of raw kohlrabi):

  • Calories: 39
  • Fat: 0 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg
  • Sodio: 20 mg (1%)
  • Carbohydrates: 9 g (3%)
  • Dietary fiber: 2 g (7%)
  • Azúcar: 6 g
  • Protein: 1 g
  • Vitamin A: 0%
  • Vitamin C: 31%
  • Calcium: 5%
  • Iron: 3%

What is kohlrabi for? Benefits and uses

  • Helps prevent cancer. Kohlrabi is rich in antioxidant compounds that have been studied for their anticancer potential.1  The glucosinolates present in kohlrabi are sulfur compounds that have been shown to reduce cancer growth, especially in lung and digestive tract cancer cases.
  • It helps control diabetes and lose weight. Rutabagas are relatively low-carb root vegetables (they contain 20% less carbohydrate than potatoes), so they can be used as an alternative to potatoes. It is an excellent option for diabetic patients and people who want to cut carbohydrates to lose weight.
  • They promote metabolic function. Rutabagas are one of the best options for vegetarians because of their complete protein content; By not consuming meat, most vegetarians have difficulty obtaining certain compounds in the diet. Amino acids and proteins build cell development, growth, healing, reproduction, muscle contraction, and other important body processes.
  • Improves digestion. Like other cruciferous vegetables, rutabagas are naturally high in fiber. In fact, they are said to be one of the highest-fiber foods in nature. A cup of kohlrabi has more than 8.42% of the daily fiber requirement. Hence its regular consumption improves digestion and avoids conditions such as constipation.2
  • Promotes bone health. It contains several important minerals, such as zinc, calcium, magnesium, manganese, and phosphorus, which play an important role in creating and maintaining bone tissue.
  • Improves cardiovascular health. Kohlrabi is rich in potassium, a mineral essential for the proper functioning of all cells, tissues, and organs in the human body. In particular, potassium is necessary for the proper functioning of the heart and plays a key role in the contraction of skeletal and smooth muscles. Reducing stress and blood vessel contraction helps reduce blood pressure,  promotes easier blood flow, promotes greater oxygenation of vital organs/systems, and a lower chance of clotting. The combination of potassium and fiber in kohlrabi helps lower cholesterol levels and prevents atherosclerosis, heart attacks, strokes.3
  • It has an enzymatic function. The zinc present in kohlrabi is a key component for many enzymatic functions of the body, without which many body processes become inefficient, resulting in more dangerous health problems.4
  • Boost the immune system. Thanks to its vitamin C content, this tuber is a great ally to strengthen the immune system, stimulate white blood cells and prevent the development of numerous diseases.
  • It helps to improve mood. Rutabagas are rich in vitamin B6, a nutrient involved in producing hormones in the brain and effective in treating mood disorders and brain diseases. Research suggests that patients taking vitamin B6 supplements can improve their mood, experience less pain, combat lack of energy, and improve concentration.5

Other benefits:

  • It helps prevent baldness (alopecia)
  • Relieves premenstrual syndrome
  • Decrease the frequency of migraines
  • It helps prevent strokes and epilepsy
  • Controls blood cholesterol levels

How to consume kohlrabi?

How to consume kohlrabi?

This tuber can be eaten raw or cooked (boiled, pureed, baked, roasted, in soups and stews). Raw kohlrabi is usually eaten thinly sliced as a garnish or part of a salad. The leaves are also edible and can be prepared similarly to mustard, chard, or spinach greens.

Cheese Roasted Kohlrabi Recipe:

Frequent questions

Does kohlrabi make you fat?

Unlike potatoes, which are a high-calorie and high carbohydrate root vegetable, a cup of kohlrabi has only 39 calories and 9 grams of carbohydrates.

Besides being a low-carbohydrate vegetable, kohlrabi is rich in vitamins and essential nutrients for our body; don’t hesitate to include it in your diet, whether you want to lose weight or not. It is a good remedy to stay satisfied without increasing the number of calories too much.

How to store kohlrabi?

Rutabagas can be safely stored for weeks in a cool place, but for long-term storage, it is recommended:

  • Select fresh and medium rutabagas.
  • Wash them with cold water and a vegetable brush, then peel them.
  • Cut them into cubes and blanch them in boiling water for 3 minutes.
  • Cool, drain the water, and pack in freezer bags.
  • Place in the freezer.

What is the origin of kohlrabi?

This root vegetable is believed to have originated in the 17th century (the Middle Ages) as a hybrid between a turnip and wild cabbage in the area that today corresponds to countries such as Russia and Scandinavia.

What is the kohlrabi plant like?

The kohlrabi plant has smooth glaucous leaves (with a waxy coating), similar to turnip greens but thicker; they are similar to the leaves of kale. Its root is large and grows in the form of a tuber. The plant produces cross-shaped flowers, with four petals ranging from pale yellow to bright yellow and pale orange.

How is kohlrabi grown?

Rutabagas grow best in well-tilled, drained soils rich in organic matter. It is always recommended to add aged compost to the soil before planting and remove any lumps and rocks.

Kohlrabi should be sown after winter in the spring, although it can also be sown in late summer for the fall or winter harvest.

The seeds should be planted ½ inch deep, leaving 4 to 6 inches apart. It is not recommended to let the soil dry out. When kohlrabi is not grown in cool, temperate climates, they are usually small and bitter. They will generally be ready for harvest 60 to 90 days after planting.

What does kohlrabi taste like?

Technically, kohlrabi is a direct cross between cabbage and turnip, sharing the latter’s subtle bitter taste. Raw kohlrabi has a milder flavor than a turnip, almost like a carrot, but without its sweetness. It is crunchy, juicy, and a bit spicy. But when kohlrabi is cooked, its flavor becomes sweet, more like sweet potatoes  (sweet potato, sweet potato).

What other names does it have?

Other names for kohlrabi are rutabaga, nabicol, kohlrabi, Swiss turnip, Sweden turnip, and Swedish turnip. Its scientific name is Brassica x napobrassica.

How are kohlrabi and turnip different?

Rutabagas can be confused with turnips, but they are different vegetables. Rutabagas are larger, have a white part, a purple part, and a yellowish part, and their flavor turns sweet after cooking. On the other hand, turnips are white, have a purple-red top, and their flavor is spicy.

References:

  1. https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/diet/antioxidants-fact-sheet
  2. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Potassium-HealthProfessional/
  3. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Zinc-HealthProfessional/
  4. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminB6-HealthProfessional/

My name is Louise Hammond, and I am the creator of this website, a place to find information about tubers, bulbs and medicinal roots. In Dreamsship.com I show the properties, benefits, characteristics, photos and images, ways of growing and how to make delicious meals from starchy vegetables.