What are Turnips?
Turnip (Brassica rapa) is one of the world’s oldest grown vegetables. This purple conical root crop has a pungent taste. It is well known for the nourishment it offers.
It is used traditionally for treating various sicknesses like rheumatoid edemas, arthritis, headaches, and sexually transmitted infections. Folk medicine also used turnips to cure hepatitis, jaundice, and sore throats.
Turnips belong to the family of Brassica, which includes broccoli, cabbage, kale, and Brussels sprouts. They are a root crop that is indigenous to Europe and thrive in cooler environments. The small, tender types are the most common turnip to be seen on the menu, being moderately bitter and healthier to eat than the wider varieties.
Turnips go well with coconut milk and cream; nutmeg, turmeric, coriander, parsley, or thyme; roasted, bacon, and braised meats; salty cheeses like Parmesan; other root vegetables crop or mushrooms; sherry, honey, or lemon.
Turnip is high in isothiocyanates and glucosinolates that have antitumor properties. The vegetable is also rich in other bioactive compounds, like phenols and flavonoids, which are antioxidants. They are believed to have hepatoprotective, antimicrobial, and antidiabetic properties.
Another major substance in turnip, known as Arvelexin, is believed to be anti-inflammatory, hypolipidemic (lowers blood cholesterol), and antihypertensive (lowers blood pressure) in nature.
What are The Health Benefits of Turnips?
There is a wide range of benefits one may enjoy from taking this root crop. Just keep reading to find out what they are;
1) May Ease Intestinal Problems
Regular intake of turnips may aid proper digestion as they are very rich in fiber. Traditionally, the root vegetable crop has been used to cure various gut ailments. Research has it that consuming higher quantities of dietary fiber may lower the risk of diverticular disease as it aids with bowel motility. Also, a few studies claim that a high fiber intake may not be beneficial against asymptomatic diverticulosis.
However, more recent research studies have reported that a high intake of dietary fiber may lower the risk of diverticular disease. Folks consuming 30 g of fiber daily may lower their risk of the disease by 41 percent.
A high fiber diet is believed to be beneficial to facilitate the gut bacteria population—these probiotic bacteria aid in giving nutrition to the body and also help lower inflammation. The gut bacteria also help with bowel motility. More studies in this area will give a better understanding of these benefits.
Turnip had also been proved to fight Helicobacter pylori, which is the pathogenic bacteria that cause stomach ulcers. Including turnips in your daily diet would help improve gut health. They may also give relief from stomach complications such as gas, bloating, and constipation.
2) May Have Anticancer Properties
Turnips have several important plant compounds linked with cancer-fighting properties.
Besides their very high vitamin C content, which may aid prevent the development and spread of cancer cells, turnips are high in glucosinolates.
Glucosinolates are a group of bioactive Phyto compounds that also gives antioxidant activity, meaning they suppress the cancer-promoting abilities of oxidative stress.
Numerous research studies have attributed higher intakes of glucosinolates with a lowered risk of different types of cancer, involving colon, lung, and rectal cancers.
Furthermore, turnips are high in flavonoids, majorly anthocyanins (another antioxidant type with proven anticancer abilities.
3) Lowering Blood Pressure
According to a British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology study, foods having dietary nitrates like turnips and collard greens; may give a lot of benefits for the health of the blood vessels. These include lowering blood pressure and hindering the sticking together of blood platelets.
Though, the long-term risks of a high nitrate dish and its effect on heart health remain unclear.
In general, a diet high in vegetables and fruits has positive effects on blood pressure. They play a prominent role in the Lung, Heart, and Blood Institute’s DASH diet, which medical professionals have designed to cause a decrease in blood pressure.
Turnips also provide a good amount of potassium, which may also help reduce blood pressure by releasing sodium from the body and aiding the dilation of arteries.
4) May Improve Heart Health
Turnips have some anti-inflammatory, antidiabetic, and antioxidant properties that may aid in lowering the risk of cardiovascular diseases. This root crop has a high content of beneficial fats that may help in maintaining cholesterol levels.
Researchers from animal studies have reported that it may enhance lipid and glucose metabolism. This effect could also boost cardiovascular health.
5) May Shield the Liver and Kidney
Turnips had also shown hepatoprotective activity in mice. In a rat study, turnip root ethanolic extract was discovered to give protection against hepatic injury.
Turnip water extract was also proved to shield against hepatic fibrogenesis (large formation of scar tissue in the liver).
Overall, these studies show that turnip has a vital role in protecting the liver. A typical role of turnip was seen in kidneys. The vegetable had a remarkable protective effect against renal damage in rats. This renoprotective ability was also seen against rats in another research study.
6) Aiding Weight Loss and Digestion
Turnips and many other cruciferous vegetables that are rich in fiber help make folks feel fuller for a longer period, and they are very low in calories. Eating high fibrous meals also aids keep blood sugar levels stable.
The high fiber content in turnips may also help prevent constipation and aid regularity for a healthy gastrointestinal tract. Regular, optimum bowel movements are vital for getting rid of harmful toxins through the stool and bile.
7) May Provide Anti-Inflammatory Effects
Inflammation is linked with many chronic diseases, such as cancer, arthritis, and high blood pressure caused by the thickening of the arteries.
Glucosinolates in turnips break down into isothiocyanates and indoles, both of which are bioactive waste products with anti-inflammatory prowess.
One specific indole type in turnips is Arvelexin, which researchers have suggested to block pro-inflammatory compounds, like nitric oxide, a type of harmful free radical involved in the process of inflammation.
For instance, animal studies and test-tube have proved that Arvelexin significantly lowered inflammation and damage in human colon cells and that of the colons of mice by deactivating an inflammatory pathway.
8) Antidiabetic Properties
Studies have proved that turnip extracts have remarkable antidiabetic effects. It is reported that this vegetable crop can help control glucose levels by raising the insulin-glucagon ratio.
However, more research studies are necessary to further understand the antidiabetic attributes of turnips.
9) May Help During Pregnancy
Turnip green leaves are a good source of both iron and folic acid. These are vital for women in pregnancy. Regular intake of this root vegetable, together with other leafy greens, can help pregnant folks with their daily nutritional needs.
10) May Aid Healthy Skin and Hair
Turnip is a great source of vitamins A (retinol) and C (ascorbic acid), and iron. All of them are vital for healthy hair and skin. Vitamin A (retinol) is necessary for skin physiology. It may help in the generation of sebum and the avoidance of acne. However, more research studies are needed in this regard.
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) promotes the production of collagen. Collagen gives structure to the skin. It may also help keep the skin supple and young.
Iron helps in the production of melanin in the hair. Iron deficiency is believed to cause hair loss and untimely hair graying. Taking raw turnip greens and other foods that are high in iron may also help reduce hair loss.
11) May Help Prevent Osteoporosis
Turnips are high in glucosinolates that are believed to help in bone formation in rats. The vegetable is also high in vitamin K. This vitamin aids in lowering the risk of fractures, aiding calcium absorption, and intensifying bone density.
12) May Help Improve Memory
Turnip greens are high in choline. Choline is vital for many essential functions. It is a structural cell membrane component that helps with memory. It is also an essential component of neurotransmitters and reduces inflammation.
13) May Help Lower Anemia
Iron deficiency is among the leading causes of anemia. Iron is a vital component of hemoglobins which are present in red blood cells. It is vital for the conveyance of oxygen to all body parts. Turnips are also very rich in iron, and supplementing them in your diet may help to combat the fatigue feeling from anemia. Turnips are also endowed with vitamin C (ascorbic acid), which aids with iron absorption.
What if just including some turnip in your daily diet is all you need to be healthy?