Turnips, members of the cruciferous family of vegetables, along with broccoli, collards, kale and Brussels sprouts, grow in temperate climates throughout the world. Most commonly grown for their white bulbous roots, turnip leaves and sprouts are also edible and highly nutritious. Turnips are a valuable addition to your healthy diet and provide a wide range of health benefits.
A 1-cup serving of boiled, mashed turnips contains 51 calories and provides 76 milligrams of calcium, 21 milligrams of magnesium and 407 milligrams of potassium. The same serving size also provides 26 milligrams of vitamin C. A 1-cup serving of raw turnip greens provides 104 milligrams of calcium, or 13 percent of your daily requirement, and 163 milligrams of potassium. Turnip greens are also a good source of vitamin C, with 33 milligrams per cup, vitamin A, with 6,373 International Units, or IUs, per cup — about 64 percent of your daily requirement — and vitamin K, with 318 IUs per cup — about three times the daily adult requirement. While the turnip root is considered a starchy vegetable, it contains only a third of the calories in a potato.
Health Benefits of Turnips
Turnips are cruciferous vegetables. They contain high levels of antioxidants and phytonutrients associated with reduced risk of cancer. The glucosinolate levels in turnip greens are excellent. Research shows that plant compounds like glucosinolates help the liver process toxins, fight the effects of carcinogens and may even inhibit the growth of tumors.
Turnips have great anti-inflammatory properties, which are considered key in preventing heart attacks and heart disease. They may also help the body lower cholesterol and contain excellent amounts of folate, a B-vitamin that is critical to cardiovascular health.
The vegetable contains high amounts of vitamin C, a natural antioxidant. One cup of the cooked root and leaves provides about 30 micrograms of vitamin C. This nutrient helps to prevent afflictions such as colds, ear infections and sore throats. Vitamin C helps to relieve inflammatory condition such as asthma. It also boosts the bodyâ€™s immune system. Turnips are a rich source of beta carotene which the body converts into vitamin A. This is one of the natural antioxidants that help the body to maintain good health. The vegetable also contains flavonoids which have potent antioxidant properties. They help to neutralize free radicals in the body. This reduces the risk of various cancers.
Turnip greens are great sources of two excellent anti-inflammatory agents: vitamin K and omega-3 fatty acids. Vitamin K is a potent regulator of the body’s inflammatory response system. Research shows omega-3 fatty acids are essential building blocks of the body’s inflammation system and help reduce the risk of heart disease, arthritis and other disease that may be the result of chronic inflammation.
Turnip greens are high in fiber which helps support the body’s digestive system. Some research suggests that glucosinolates may also help the stomach process bacteria like Helicobacter pylori.
Turnips are a great source of calcium and potassium, essential minerals for healthy bone growth and helping to prevent bone diseases such as osteoporosis.
High in Fiber
Fiber helps regulate the metabolism, controls body weight and supports a healthy, active colon. Turnip greens offer about 20% the DV of fiber.
Any low calorie, nutrient rich foods like turnips can be a great addition to an effective weight loss program. The high fiber content of turnips should promote an active, healthy metabolism as well.
The leaves of the vegetable are a rich source of vitamin A and vitamin B1. These vitamins have been found to be beneficial in the prevention of cataracts. These are cloudy areas that develop on the lens of the eye. They arise from changes in the lens protein. Cataracts impair the vision.
Turnips and top greens are generally very safe, including in pregnant women.
However, the roots and top greens contain small amount oxalic acid (0.21 g per 100 g), a naturally-occurring substance found in some vegetables belonging to Brassica family, which may crystallize as oxalate stones in the urinary tract in some people. It is therefore, those with known oxalate urinary tract stones may have to avoid eating them. Adequate intake of water is advised to maintain normal urine output in these individuals to minimize the stone risk.
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