Turnips have long been associated with wealth and prosperity. In a traditional fairy tale from The Brothers Grimm, a man makes his fortune by gifting the King a prize turnip.1 In China, turnips are eaten during Lunar New Year celebrations, to encourage good luck in the year ahead.2
We think these old legends about turnips bringing good fortune have some truth in them. This underappreciated root vegetable is associated with a wide variety of health benefits, which we’ll explore here.
What are turnips?
Turnips are a member of the Brassica family, which is sometimes known as the mustard family. Close relations include rocket, kale, radish, and broccoli.3
Health benefits of turnips
Eating turnips as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle is associated with health benefits, like:
Enhanced digestive health
Turnips contain 2g of fibre in every portion or around 6g of fibre per turnip. The NHS advocates everyone eat 30g of fibre a day.
Promote heart health
Turnips can promote blood vessel health by reducing blood pressure.4 High blood pressure is associated with poor heart health and adverse health outcomes.5
Combat oxidative stress
Oxidative stress is a consequence of ageing which can be exacerbated by an unhealthy lifestyle and is a significant factor in age-related illnesses.6 Happily, turnips are full of potent antioxidants which combat oxidative stress throughout the body.7
Support brain health
Studies have found that those who eat one or two portions of brassicas, like turnips, each day, perform better on memory and cognitive tests, than those who do not. Evidence suggests that eating a diet rich in brassicas not only protects the mind as we age but can even encourage the brain to work at its best.8
Turnips nutrition profile
A 100g portion of turnip (around a third of an average-sized turnip) contains9:
Turnips also contain small amounts of minerals, including zinc, sodium, phosphorus, magnesium, and iron.
How to enjoy more turnips in your diet
Start cooking with turnips and enjoy these delicious dishes:
- Italian minestrone with turnip, carrots, beans, and kale
- Root vegetable curry with turnip
- Roasted turnip. Roast with lemon, rosemary and coriander to have on the side of a roast; or, cook with miso and soy, for an Asian-inspired side dish for steak
- Bake in a creamy gratin
Risks associated with turnips
Turnips contain large amounts of vitamin K, which has been known to make some blood-thinning medications less effective.10 If you’re on blood-thinning medication, only add turnips to your diet after consultation with your GP or dietician.
Last updated: 1 March 2021