Consider the lowly turnip. It is not a glamorous vegetable, or one that often gets much attention except for at Thanksgiving, when it is served mashed with carrots and butter. Rank smelling and often bitter, this member of the cabbage family is often eschewed by children and picky eaters alike. How unfortunate, when one considers that this root vegetable and its leafy tops are one of the most nutritious foods you can eat! Turnips are loaded with hearthealthy nutrients such as: fiber, lycopene, beta-sitosterol and potassium. The entire plant also contains a group of potent cancer preventive phytonutrients called glucosinolates; sulfur based compounds that protect against hormonallydriven cancers of the breast, uterus and prostate. Glucosinolates promote detoxification in the liver and are responsible for the turnip’s distinctive flavor. Like other root vegetables, turnips are a source of low-glycemic carbohydrates. As such, turnips can replace refined starches in the diet and promote weight loss.
Bitter tasting turnip leaves or tops are packed with nutrition. One cup of chopped cooked turnip tops contains: 197 mg calcium, 5 g fiber, 292 mg potassium, 10,000 IU vitamin A (as beta carotene) and some folate. Turnip tops also contain magnesium, lutein , zeaxanthin and are one of the richest known food sources of a unique flavanoid called kaempferol. In multiple laboratory studies this flavanoid has been shown to positively affect bone health and hormonal balance in women. It may even protect against breast cancer.
Experiment with new ways of adding turnip to your diet. Turnips can be oven-roasted, pureed or added to soups. Turnip tops are most palatable if first blanched before further cooking. Baby turnip tops are a great addition to otherTheNaturalPrincess.com LocalFoodRocks.comsalad greens.
On the downside, turnip plants are a known bio-accumulator of toxic heavy metals such as thallium and arsenic, which may be found in soils where pesticides are applied. Choose organically grown turnips whenever possible and learn to love this under-appreciated vegetable for all it has to offer.