Yes, Turnip is Paleo!
What is a Turnip?
Turnip, though often grouped with other root vegetables like potato and beets, is a nutritious root vegetable that belongs to the family of Brassica which is a broad family of green vegetables such as cabbage, kale and brussels sprouts. This small, bulbous, round, white-skinned root with purple top when exposed to sunlight has a white flesh and grows in many parts of Europe and Asia. Turnip tastes similar to radish and potato. Its sweet flavor adds a fantastic taste to any dishes. It is also one of the cool-season vegetables.
Turnip is one of the first cultivated vegetables with records dating back 17,000 years ago. It has been a popular staple in the Europe especially in Greek and Roman diets.
Young turnips or baby turnips are delicate and has a sweeter taste compared to the regular turnip. They can be eaten raw as they tend to be less spicy and have a milder flavor.
Along with the roots, the tops or leaves of this vegetable also known as turnip greens are also edible and known to be more nutritious than its root as they are richer in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Its taste is similar to mustard greens.
Turnips are easy to cook and store and could be a great addition to ones diet.
Powerhouse of Nutrients
Turnip is a powerhouse of nutrients like other cruciferous vegetables and has a low amount of calories. Like sweet potatoes, it is a rich source of complex carbohydrates without gluten which can be difficult to obtain on a grain-free diet such as Paleo. It can supply great amounts of minerals, antioxidants and dietary fiber. Turnip is one of the vegetables that is loaded with vitamin C which is essential in fighting oxidative stress and inflammation and boosting immune system.
The turnip greens are also rich in vitamins A, C and K, carotenoids, lutein and xanthin. Omega-3 acids such as alpha-linoleic acids are also present in turnip greens which are essential anti-inflammatory compounds. Turnip greens also contain B vitamins like riboflavin, folates, panthothenic acids and thiamine and minerals such as calcium, copper, manganese and iron.
Health Benefits of Turnip
Apart from the nutrients that turnip contains, there are lots of benefits that it can offer too. Listed below are the health benefits of eating turnip.
- Because turnip is rich in dietary fiber, it can aid in minimizing pressure and inflammation in the colon. Diets rich in fiber can decrease the occurrence of diverculitis, an inflamed and infected pouch in the colon, by making bowel movements easier hence preventing constipation. Fiber also helps in making the blood sugar level stable.
- Turnip is also a good source of dietary nitrates. Foods containing this have shown to have beneficial effect in the cardiovascular system. This includes reducing blood pressure, inhibiting platelet aggregation and preserving endothelial dysfunction. Potassium in turnip can also aid in regulating blood pressure.
- Calcium and potassium are both abundant in turnip. Regular consumption can inhibit joint damage, risk of osteoporosis and rheumatoid arthritis.
- Turnip has a compound called brassinin which is found to help reduce the risk of colorectal and lung cancer. Brassinin aids in killing human colon cancer cells according to an article published by the International Journal of Oncology in March 2012.
- The sulfur-containing compounds called glucosinolates in can provide antibacterial, antifungal, anti-parasitic and anti-cancer benefits. It can protect against inflammation like benign prostatic hypertrophy which can lead to prostate cancer.
Carbohydrates and Glucosinolates
As with other root vegetables, turnip contains complex carbohydrates. Though carbohydrates are not bad as they seem, in the Paleo diet, it must be consumed moderately as it is a low-carb diet. Not all people are trying to lose weight. Turnip could be a good addition to ones diet especially for people who are trying to maintain or gain weight.
Vegetables from the Brassica family have compounds called glucosinolates which can interfere with the thyroid gland function when taken excessively. These compounds can result to production of goitrin which inhibits thyroid hormone production.
What Experts Say About Turnip
“The sweet flavor of turnips adds mild but fantastic flavor to this hearty bison & egg scramble. Garnish with green onions for a simple but super-flavorful breakfast”. – Mark Sisson
Other Names for Turnip
All you ever wanted to know about Turnip and Paleo
Mark’s Daily Apple. Turnip & Bison Scramble
Paleo Grubs. Foods You Can Eat on The Paleo Diet
Livestrong.com. The Paleo Diet with Turnips & Rutabagas
SFGate. Turnip vs. Potato Nutrients
SFGate. The Health Benefits of Turnips
The World’s Healthiest Foods. Turnip Greens
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photo credit: turnips & kohlrabi