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Turnip (Cabbage, Rapeseed, Turnip) – Properties, Benefits, Origin, Types, Characteristics

February 3, 2023
Turnip (Cabbage, Rapeseed, Turnip) & Benefits

We invite you to consult the information in our article to learn about the main characteristics of turnips, the types of turnips that exist, their nutritional properties, health benefits, consumption options, as well as frequently asked questions related to the cultivation and storage of this tuber.

What is the turnip

What is the turnip?

Included in the Brassicaceae ( Brassicaceae) or cruciferous family, the turnip is a  round-shaped tuber similar to an apple. It is a vegetable native to northern Europe, recognized as one of the staples in the diet of the ancient Greeks and Romans.  Although when talking about the turnip, it is usually referred to as the bulbous roots of the plant, its shoots and leaves are also edible and highly nutritious. The turnip is typically whitish on the underside and purple on the top, especially if the plant has been exposed to sunlight.

Characteristics and curious facts about turnips

Characteristics and curious facts about turnips

  • Although they are tubers, turnips are not related to potatoes; They are related to radish, mustard, spinach, and cabbage.
  • The turnip grows in cold climate areas, in fertile, well-drained soils, and exposed to direct sunlight.
  • The plant produces a lush, light green stem and 8-12 small leaves. The main stem of the turnip can reach 12 to 14 inches in height.
  • This tuber is an excellent source of dietary fiber, vitamin C, and potassium. The plant’s leaves are rich in vitamins B6, E, K, A, and C and minerals such as calcium, copper, iron, and manganese. 100 g of fresh turnip only contains 28 calories.
  • Turnip meat can be yellow or white.
  • Some varieties of turnips are grown as a food source for livestock.
  • The turnip was a staple food in ancient Greece and Rome.
  • Certain substances present in this vegetable can help prevent various types of cancer, cardiovascular and ocular disorders.
  • The turnip is a biennial plant, which means that it completes its life cycle in two years.

Types of turnips

  • White and purple balloon. This is one of the most popular and oldest types of turnips. It is a smooth, round tuber, 4 to 6 inches wide. It is white on the bottom and has a purple crown on the top.
  • Manchester Market. Some of the most obvious characteristics of this type of turnip are the white roots, the balloon-shaped tuber and the size of a tennis ball, and its green top.
  • Golden Ball. This is another one of the oldest turnips. The tuber has a perfect round shape, smooth skin, golden yellow color, and an average diameter of 3 to 4 inches.
  • Tokyo turnip. The Tokyo turnip is small (1 to 3 inches in diameter), similar to a radish. When raw, it is sweet, crunchy, and juicy, but when cooked, it takes on a buttery flavor. It is shaped like a balloon, and its top is slightly flat. In Japan, it is also known as a Kabura-type turnip.
  • Snowball. The name of this variety is due to its sweet, juicy, soft flesh and its white skin.
  • Green balloon. This is a variety of turnips with white meat that is characterized by its resistance to winter weather.
  • White lady. The tuber of this turnip is approximately 2.5 – 3 inches in diameter. Its flesh is white, with a shiny upper part.
  • Scarlet queen. This red turnip is slightly flat compared to other, rounder varieties. Its upper part is dark green and looks very similar to mustard greens.
  • Gilfeather turnips. This variety is not as popular as other types of turnips. It is the result of the cross between a turnip and kohlrabi. Its tuber, leaves, and stems are sweet and tender.
  • Seven Top. The Siete Top turnip is grown exclusively for its leaves, which are nutritious and delicious. It is a trendy choice for making green salads.

Turnip nutritional properties

Turnip nutritional properties

Turnip is an excellent source of minerals, antioxidants, and dietary fiber. It is a low-calorie vegetable: a serving of 100 grams only has 28 calories. It also stands out for its vitamin C content; 100 grams of turnip provide 21 milligrams of this vitamin.

The green leaves of the plant are even more nutritious than the roots. They are rich in antioxidants, such as vitamins A and C, carotenoids, xanthine, and lutein (they fight the action of free radicals). They are also an excellent source of vitamin K (direct regulator of the inflammatory response), omega-3 acids, such as alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) (building blocks of anti-inflammatory molecules in the body),  B vitamins (riboflavin, folates, pyridoxine, pantothenic acid, and thiamine), calcium, copper, manganese, iron, and phytonutrients like quercetin, myricetin, kaempferol and hydroxycinnamic acid (help reduce the risk of oxidative stress).

Turnip Nutrition Facts:

Serving size: 3.5 ounces (100 grams) raw turnip

  • Calories: 28
  • Grease: 0 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg
  • Sodio: 67 mg (3%)
  • Carbohydrates: 6 g (2%)
  • Dietary fiber: 2 g (7%)
  • Azúcar: 4 g
  • Protein: 1 g
  • Vitamin A: 1%
  • Vitamin C: 2%
  • Calcium: 5%
  • Iron: 16%

What is turnip good for? Benefits and uses

  • Helps prevent cancer. Turnip contains high levels of antioxidants and phytochemicals that help reduce the risk of developing cancer. They promote the processing of toxins in the liver, fight their carcinogenic effects and inhibit the growth of tumor cells.
  • Promotes cardiovascular health. Turnips have anti-inflammatory properties due to their abundant vitamin K content.1  This vitamin helps prevent heart attacks and other heart diseases. On the other hand, the turnip contains a lot of folic acids, a nutrient that helps boost the proper functioning of the cardiovascular system.
  • Improves bone health. This tuber is an important source of calcium and potassium, essential minerals for the growth and maintenance of healthy bones.2 Regular consumption of turnip has been suggested to inhibit joint damage, the risk of osteoporosis, and the incidence of rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Promotes lung health. Carcinogens in cigarette smoke cause vitamin A deficiency, resulting in lung inflammation, emphysema, and other lung problems. The vitamin A in the turnip greens helps keep the lungs healthy and counteract this effect.3
  • Helps indigestion. The high fiber content found in turnip is very beneficial for the digestive system. Research has shown that turnip glucosinolates can help the stomach process bacteria like Helicobacter pylori, which causes gastritis and ulcerative colitis.4
  • Prevents atherosclerosis. The free radicals in the body cause the oxidation of bad cholesterol and the accumulation of platelets in our body, leading to atherosclerosis, a condition that damages blood vessels. Precisely the vitamins E, C, and beta-carotene present in the roots and leaves of the turnip are excellent antioxidants that fight the effect of free radicals.
  • Helps in the treatment of common ailments. The healing power of some compounds present in turnip helps treat hemorrhoids, small kidney stones, and digestive problems.
  • Supports weight loss. Turnips are low-calorie root vegetables so that they can be part of an effective weight loss program. Similarly, its high fiber content regulates metabolism, helps control body weight, and supports a healthy and active colon.
  • Helps fight asthma. The anti-inflammatory properties of this vegetable are effective in the treatment and control of asthma.
  • Prevents body odor. Drinking turnip juice helps avoid body odors, particularly in the summer months.
  • Strengthens the immune system. The levels of vitamin C found in turnip root and many other vegetables strengthen the functioning of the immune system. Furthermore, its beta-carotene content helps the body produce healthy cell membranes.5
  • Improves eye health. They are a vegetable rich in lutein, a carotenoid that promotes eye health and prevents macular degeneration and cataracts.
  • Promotes healthy skin. Being rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, beta-carotene, and minerals such as copper, the consumption of turnips help to take care of the skin’s health (shiny and smooth skin). Applying raw turnip on the feet is a good remedy to remove calluses and cracks.
  • It has an anti-aging effect. The vitamins present in the turnip fight and eliminate free radicals that are responsible for aging.
  • It helps to have healthy hair. Regular consumption of turnips improves hair health and color. This tuber is a good source of copper, a mineral involved in the formation of melanin. Melanin is the pigment that gives hair color. It is also rich in antioxidants such as vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin, which help maintain healthier and more beautiful hair.

How to consume turnip?

Turnips have a crisp, white inner pulp, and their flavor is somewhat spicy. They can be eaten raw, cooked, or roasted; this last option tends to enhance the flavor and properties of the vegetable.

Some alternatives to better consume turnip are:

  • Boil and mash turnips as a fun alternative to mashed potatoes
  • Chop raw turnips to add to a salad
  • Add turnips to a soup or stew in the same way we do with potatoes
  • Include diced turnips as an accompaniment to a roast
  • Add grated turnip to a salad or favorite green juice

Turnip Stew Recipe:

Frequent questions

Does turnip make you fat?

A cup of cooked turnips alone provides about 34 calories and 5 grams of carbohydrates. As you can see, it is a very nutritious tuber, but at the same time, it is low in calories. Hence it is not fattening and is compatible with a weight loss plan.

How to store turnip?

How to store the turnip will depend on its size and maturity. Small roots can be refrigerated for two to three weeks. Large, mature roots should be graded to remove broken or stained ones; They can then be kept in the refrigerator for up to three weeks.

To freeze turnip roots, keep the following recommendations in mind:

  1. Wash and cut into 1/2-inch cubes.
  2. Scald them in boiling water for 2 minutes.
  3. Chill quickly in cold water and freeze immediately in freezer bags.

In this way, they can keep well for 8 to 10 months.

What is the origin of the turnip?

This root vegetable is ancient, having been cultivated for over 3,000 in Europe and Asia. Historical evidence indicates that the turnip was domesticated before the 15th century BC when India cultivated its oilseeds. Later it became a well-established crop, becoming a staple in the time of the Greeks and Romans.

What is the turnip plant like?

The turnip tuber is formed by the thickening of the plant’s primary root, together with the base of the young stem that forms on top of it.

The turnip produces a leafy stem with 8-12 small light green leaves. The main stem can reach 12 to 14 inches in height. The leaves are grass green and have rough hairs.

The stem and branches end in clusters of small yellow, bright, cross-shaped flowers, followed by smooth, elongated pods with short beaks.

How is turnip grown?

Turnips are cool-weather cruciferous vegetables that can be grown in spring and fall, avoiding the hot summer months. They generally require a location in full sun but tolerate partial shade conditions, especially if you want to harvest the plant to use its leaves.

Preparing the ground for growing turnip plants is easy. Once the soil has been raked, please wait until it is not too wet before sprinkling the seeds and raking again. It is important to set the seeds about 4 inches apart to have enough room to form good roots. After sowing, it should be watered immediately to accelerate germination. When 45-50 days have passed, it is advisable to remove a turnip to assess whether it is time to obtain the harvest.

What does turnip taste like?

Turnip has a sweet and tangy flavor, commonly described as a mix between potato and radish. The tender roots have a milder flavor and a crunchy-juicy texture. This flavor allows it to be included in different preparations, from salads and soups to stews and roasts. Turnip greens taste like green mustard; they can be cooked and consumed similarly to spinach.

What other names does it have?

Depending on the location, the turnip is also known as collard greens, rapeseed, turnip, or raba.


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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 I show the properties, benefits, characteristics, photos and images, ways of growing and how to make delicious meals from starchy vegetables.