Turnip – Properties and medicinal uses


Turnip or Brassica rapa is a root vegetable with numerous health benefits. It has been found to prevent cancer, improve cardiovascular health, aid digestion, prevent arteriosclerosis, improve bone health, fight inflammation, and strengthen the immune system.


Turnip is the roots and leaves of the turnip plant (Brassica rapa L.), of the botanical family Cruciferae (Brassicaceae). It has an enlarged root with no sprouts, a greenish calcium-rich leaves, which are more nutritious than the turnip itself in terms of minerals and vitamins, a white or reddish external color, and a white or yellowish internal color.

OTHER NAMEWhite turnip

Nutritional value of turnip

Below are some notable contents of turnip per 100 g as provided by the USDA.

  • Energy of 20 kcal
  • Carbohydrates of 4.4 g
  • Proteins of 1.1 g
  • Fat of 0.2 g
  • Vitamin C of 27.4 mg
  • Vitamin E of 1.88 mg
  • Calcium of 137 mg
  • Magnesium of 22 mg
  • Potassium of 203 mg
  • Sodium of 29 mg

The root of turnip are very high in vitamin C.  Its leaves provides significant amounts of vitamin C, vitamin A, folate, vitamin K, and calcium. Turnip is very low in fat, and contains quite high amounts of fiber. Minerals such as potassium, sodium, and calcium are present in rich amounts.

Here’s a quick list of some impressive benefits and medicinal uses of turnip:
  1. Prevents cancer due to richness in antioxidants
  2. Aids weight lose due to its low calorie content
  3. Boost the body’s immune system
  4. Improve heart health
  5. Fight inflammation
  6. Improve bone health due to its richness in calcium
  7. Prevents arteriosclerosis
  8. Relieves arthritis
  9. Improve skin and hair health
  10. Improves eye health

Considering the composition of turnip, we can conclude that when taken as a whole, it provides a little amount of energy, and a reasonably high fiber content. It also provides some vitamins and minerals in rich amounts. It terms of fat, it provides very little or virtually none.

Just as other important vegetables, turnip carries along with it some non-nutritive compounds which are responsible for some of its medicinal values. These non-nutritive compounds along with the nutritive component of turnip account for its health benefits. As a great alkalizer, diuretic, depurant, and antioxidant, turnip has the following therapeutic applications:

Prevents Cancer

The turnip family Cruciferae are a group of vegetables that contain very high level of phytochemicals and antioxidants. As already known, these group of compounds help prevent the risk of cancerous growths by fighting off free radicals in the body. Apart from being rich in antioxidants, these group of plants are also rich in a type of medicinal compounds called glucosinolates. These compounds have antioxidant and anticancer effects. They are able to fight carcinogens and inhibit the growth of tumor cells. You can find more about this glucosinolates here.

Aids Weight loss

Turnips help in weight loss programs since they are low in calories. So by consuming them, you can easily maintain your weight. Don’t forget the fact that they are also rich in fibers, which help control body weight and regulate metabolism. Turnips composition (containing virtually no fat) with few calories provides a sensation of satiety.

Boosts Immunity

As a root vegetable very rich in vitamin C, it helps strengthen the immune system by increasing the body’s defense mechanism in fighting off diseases.

Improves heart health

This property of turnip in improving heart health is attributed mainly to its richness in potassium and dietary fiber. The potassium present in this wonderful root vegetable act as a great vasodilator, and thus reduce the strain on our blood vessels by lowering blood pressure. Fiber on the other hand, helps absorb excess cholesterol from the body and eliminate it. These effects in turn help prevent the occurrence of deadly disorders such as arteriosclerosis, stroke, and even heart attack.

Fights Inflammation

Turnip greens contains omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin K. A research has shown that omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation and may help lower the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and arthritis.

Improves bone health

Two vital nutrients essential for healthy bone growth are calcium and potassium. Thanks to turnip, as it contains these two nutrients in significantly rich amounts.  Calcium is particularly essential in increasing bone mineral density, especially when we grow older and become more vulnerable to conditions such as osteoporosis. The regular consumption of turnip can add some strength and durability to your bones, and even shield you from conditions such as osteoporosis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Prevents arteriosclerosis

Turnips are excellent antioxidants that fight free radicals in our body. These free radicals are capable of oxidizing bad cholesterol and cause them to clump in our blood vessels to cause arteriosclerosis. Thus, regular consumption of this vegetable may help reduce the risk of this deadly condition.

Relieves Arthritis (Gout)

Uric acid is produced whenever the body metabolizes proteins. When there is an excess of this substance, it creates a toxic situation in the body in which uric acid crystals are deposited mainly in the joints, causing rheumatic pain and inflammation. The regular eating of turnips facilitates the urinary elimination of this uric acid. It cleanses the blood of uric acid and other metabolic residues.
Thus, the regular consumption of turnip provides relief to those suffering from rheumatic pain and others with gout.

Improves Skin and Hair health

Turnips possess some anti-ageing benefits due to their richness in antioxidants that fight free radicals capable of causing ageing of the skin. It makes your skin look healthy and glowing without any wrinkles, due to their richness in vitamins and minerals, as well as beta-carotene.

Improves Eye health

This wonderful vegetable contains lutein in rich amounts, a carotenoid capable of improving eye health and preventing many eye diseases such as cataracts and macular degeneration of the retina. A research carried out on the role of lutein in eye-related diseases made it clear that “the antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and blue light-absorptive properties of lutein provide its many protective roles in various ocular diseases especially macular degeneration and cataracts. Lutein has become known as the “eye vitamin” and its dietary intake is important in maintaining its concentration in human lens and retina.” In technical terms, you need to consume foods rich in lutein in order to keep and maintain its concentration in your eye. Other foods rich in lutein apart from turnips are spinachbroccoli, zucchini, asparagus, green peas, leeks, and other green leafy vegetables.

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By Abbati

Abbati studied Biological sciences at Ahmadu Bello Univeristy, Zaria. He loves learning about the medicinal properties of foods, and the need to explore them!

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