The turnip may not be the most glamorous foodstuff in the world – with its associations with serfdom and austerity in general – but it is an incredibly hardy and versatile root vegetable. The humble turnip has a variety of health benefits and nutritional values that many of us don’t really consider – this article will aim to bring these to light and discus how more turnips can improve your health and diet.
Per 100g cooked (unseasoned) 
Energy: 20 calories
A: 48% RDA
B1: 4% RDA
B2: 6% RDA
B3: 3% RDA
B5: 5% RDA
B6: 14% RDA
C: 33% RDA
E: 13% RDA
K: 350% RDA
Calcium: 14% RDA
Iron: 6% RDA
Magnesium: 6% RDA
Manganese: 16% RDA
Phosphorous: 4% RDA
Potassium: 4% RDA
Zinc: 2% RDA
Health Benefits of Turnip
1. Turnip is a great food for dieting and staying full
The turnip is exceptionally low in calories: per 100g of turnip, we can expect around 20 calories . This is unbelievably low compared to almost any other food, making the turnip an excellent addition to the diet of those who are trying to lose weight. Not only is the turnip low in calories but it is a relatively “bulky” food and will provide satiety and stave off hunger, meaning that those who are trying to lose weight can reduce their calorie intake and avoid the pangs of hunger that ruin many people’s diets.
2. Over 50% of the Turnip’s carbs are fiber
The turnip is so low in calories because of its macronutrient profile: there are approximately 6.5 grams of digestible content within a turnip, of which 3.5g are dietary fiber. This means that the turnip is not only fantastic for maintaining a calorie deficit (associated with weight loss), but what carbohydrates it does have actually have a positive effect on the body. Dietary fiber is essential for regulating metabolism, digestive function, blood sugar and a whole host of other health effects .
3. Turnips prevent disease and cell damage
Vitamin A is an important nutrient for the maintenance of skin health, immune function and has profound anti-oxidant properties . 100g of turnip provides approximately 50% of the daily recommended dose of vitamin A through chemically-equivalent compounds such as beta-carotene. B-Carotenoid is one of many chemicals included in the group known as “vitamin A” and has particularly profound antioxidant effects, associated with reductions of various diseases and cancers.
4. Improved cell function and safer pregnancies
Vitamin B9, or folate, are co-factors that are necessary for the development of a variety of chemicals in the body, as well as the maintenance of proper mitochondrial function . This vitamin is even more essential for pregnant women, where it reduces the chances of premature delivery and the chances of the child suffering from birth defects.
Folate is essential for the maintenance of proper metabolism and cell function, with 30% of the daily requirement contained in only 100g of turnip.
5. Turnip promote healthy metabolism and hormones
Whilst it’s not as colourful or popular as the orange, 100g of turnip contains as much as 1/3 of the daily intake of vitamin C. This means that turnips will actually support proper metabolic health, hormonal balance and uptake of other nutrients such as iron.
6. Through Iron and Vitamin K, the Turnip can vastly improve blood health
Perhaps the most useful nutritional value of turnip is the content of vitamin K. Vitamin K is essential for the proper development of various proteins and is also important for processes of the red blood cell. Turnips contain as much as 350% of the daily recommended intake of vitamin K, meaning that as little as 30g a day is enough to provide the total requirement for this vitamin.
7. Turnips are great for digestive health and metabolism
B6 is an essential vitamin for the proper digestion and metabolism of food – deficiency in B6 is associated with poor release of nutrients and energy from food. It is also an incredibly versatile co-enzyme, being involved in over 100 interactions with other enzymes in the proper processing of proteins, peptides and amino acids. This makes B6 an incredibly beneficial and important supporting vitamin for other nutrients and a number of essential processes such as muscle growth, recovery and the repair of damaged tissues.
8. Synergy effects: Turnips improve the metabolism of fats and carbs
Manganese is a trace element closely linked to the absorption and use of iron in the body. A failure to consume enough dietary manganese has been associated with a poor absorption of iron in the body and, consequently, poor blood and liver health. Manganese is also a necessary part of carbohydrate metabolism, especially the creation of glucose from other substances – manganese intake is therefore essential to proper energy transfer and exercise performance.
Turnips contain a significant quantity of manganese at around 16% RDA per 100g. Combined with the high content of vitamins C and K, the synergistic effects on blood health (through the absorption and recruitment of iron) is profound. Additionally, the content of vitamin C, B6 and folate in turnips are also synergistic with manganese, with folate improving cellular metabolism whilst vitamin C and manganese improve the metabolism of lipids and carbohydrates respectively .
9. Turnips may improve bone health
Calcium is a popular supplement due to public knowledge about its impact on bone health. Calcium may be more popular for its role in dairy products, but turnips contain around 15% of the RDA, making them a great food choice when accompanied by vitamin D. The proper consumption of dietary calcium, vitamin D and potassium (4% of which is contained in turnips) can reduce the chances of developing osteoporosis and bone fractures into advanced age – turnips provide a modest amount of 2 of these and can provide additional protection against such health complications.
10. Turnips protect against a number of serious, life-threatening diseases
Flavonoids are phytochemicals, found in a wide variety of plant-based foods, that have many positive health benefits. From anti-oxidant to anti-inflammatory, the flavonoids in turnips are associated with a number of markers of good health. For example, the symptoms of inflammation (either local od general) have been shown to reduce in response to the consumption of large quantities of flavonoids, reducing the risk and effect of cancers, cardiovascular disease and diabetes [5, 6, 7].
Flavonoids are a great indicator that our diet should contain a wide variety and high quantity of whole plant foods from fruits, vegetables, legumes and so forth. Turnips are only one of the foods that contain phytochemicals like these and has 10 serious health benefits. We can improve markers for a variety of serious health conditions, improve energy transfer, blood health and inflammation through simply adding this one simple food to the diet. Turnips are an incredibly versatile food and fit a similar culinary niche to potatoes: they can be added to curries and stews with incredible ease and will absorb the flavor of whatever they are mixed or spiced with. Whilst they haven’t got a great reputation, turnips have been part of the human diet for millennia and are available all over the world – add them to your diet and see for yourself!
 USDA database [URL = https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/3244]
 Anderson et al (2009): ‘Health benefits of dietary fiber’. Nutrition reviews, 67(4), pp.188-205
 Huskisson et al (2007): ‘The role of vitamins and minerals in energy metabolism and well-being’. The journal of international medical research, 35, pp.277-289
 Mora et al (2008): ‘Vitamin effects on the immune system: vitamins A and D take centre-stage’. National review of immunology, 8(9), pp.685-698
 Ravishankar et al (2013): ‘Flavonoids as prospective compounds for anti-cancer therapy’. The international journal of biochemistry and cell biology, 45(12), pp.2821-2831
 Manach et al (2005): ‘Polyphenols and prevention of cardiovascular disease’. Current opinions in lipidology, 16(1), pp.77-84
 Gilbert et al (2014): ‘Recent advances in understanding the anti-diabetic actions of dietary flavonoids’. Journal of nutritional biochemistry, 24(11), pp.1777-1789