Healthiest root vegetables:

Root vegetables are among the most consumed vegetables in the world. They have been a staple in different Asian and South American dishes, but today, they are enjoyed all over the world. You’ve probably had a few, but learn about some more of the healthiest root vegetables you can find.

They are simply all vegetables that grow underground such as carrots or beets. While they are commonly referred to as root vegetables, you may also call them starchy vegetables.

 They come in different types, and each of them contains specific nutrients with distinct health benefits. This article takes you through the healthiest of all root vegetables and the ones you should be eating more.

1.   Sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes are a sweet, starchy, delicious, and nutritious root vegetable. They come in different sizes and colors, including white, orange, and purple.

They offer a great addition to the diet due to their high nutrient levels and health benefits.

Sweet potatoes are rich in vitamin A, with a cup of baked sweet potato providing 769 percent of the daily requirement, vitamin C with the exact measurement offering 65 percent of the daily requirement, and manganese 50 percent of the daily requirement.

Sweet potatoes are also rich in fiber, antioxidants such as beta carotene, anthocyanins, chlorogenic acid, copper, niacin, and pantothenic acid.

Regular consumption may boost immunity, promote healthy vision, improve digestion, fight harmful free radicals, boost brain health, and fight cancer. Read more comprehensive sweet potato benefits here.

Sweet potatoes are pretty simple to incorporate into the diet. They can be boiled, baked, roasted, or steamed, with or without skin. Their natural sweetness also makes for an excellent addition to sweet and savory dishes.

Sweet potato recipes:

2.   Turnips

Turnips belong to the cruciferous family of vegetables, meaning they offer similar benefits like kale, broccoli, collard greens, brussels sprouts, and cabbage.

They are rich in minerals, such as potassium, calcium, and magnesium, which have been shown to lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglycerides and maintain a healthy heart.

They are also high in fiber, which promotes digestive health, and vitamin C, which boosts immunity and improves skin health.

Like other cruciferous vegetables, turnips contain indoles, phytonutrients that protect against cancer, especially prostate, gastric, breast, lung, and colorectal cancers.

Turnips are often cooked but can be peeled and eaten raw with dips or be added to salads.

Turnip recipes:

3.   Beets

Beets are vibrant red root vegetables packed with nutrients, including fiber, manganese, folate, and antioxidants.

They also contain high levels of nitrates, compounds that stimulate nitric oxide production from the inner lining of your blood vessels. Nitric oxide can naturally dilate and relax the vessels, causing blood pressure to drop. Thus they are a great addition for anyone with high blood pressure. But be careful if taking medications for the same since your blood pressure may fall too low.

Nitrates have also been shown to increase blood flow to the brain, improve lung function, strengthen muscle contraction, extend the time to fatigue, and increase exercise tolerance, thus promoting athletes’ endurance and performance.

In addition, nitrates may lower inflammation and promote quick muscle recovery.

With their high folate levels, beets are a great go-to option for a natural hemoglobin boost. They also contain a good amount of iron and vitamin C, which pairs well to promote iron absorption in the body.

Beets are great for salads, juices, and garnishing soups. They can also be roasted, boiled, steamed, or fermented for extra probiotic benefits.

Beet recipes:

4.   Radishes

These hardy, low-carb root vegetables are packed with nutrients and may help you keep off some health conditions.

They are high in vitamin C, with a cup of raw radishes (116g) providing 29 percent of the daily requirements.

They also contain other nutrients such as folate, vitamin K, niacin, B2 and B6, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, sodium, magnesium, zinc, manganese, selenium, and copper but in minimal amounts.

Radishes may help prevent gastric ulcers and promote general digestive health, fight fungal infections like those caused by Candida albicans, and help protect against cancer.

They are best eaten raw and can be added to salads or in sandwiches.

Radish recipes:

5.   Onions

Onions are another common root vegetable and a staple in most dishes. They are rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other plant compounds that have been shown to offer numerous benefits, including the prevention of certain health conditions.

Onions contain over 25 flavonoid antioxidants, including quercetin and anthocyanins, which have been shown to lower the risk of developing heart disease and heart attack, prevent diabetes complications, and help fight against certain cancers.

Furthermore, onions are also rich in sulfur-containing compounds such as onionin A, which can decrease tumor growth, especially lung and ovarian, thus preventing their spread.

Onions can also control blood glucose, boost bone density, and provide antibacterial benefits.

Onion recipes:

6.   Garlic

Garlic is another commonly consumed root vegetable to include in your list. It’s closely related to onions, chives, leeks, and shallots, although it has a more pungent smell and a bit more on its nutritional profile.

It has traditionally been used in Nepal, the Middle East, and East Asia to treat tuberculosis, colic, intestinal worms, high blood pressure, diabetes, rheumatic disease, flatulence, liver disorders, and dysentery.

It contains allium, an active ingredient responsible for protecting against cardiovascular diseases, lowering blood sugar, regulating blood pressure, reducing cholesterol, and fighting against viral, fungal, bacterial, and parasitic infections, thus promoting the immune system.

Garlic can add flavor to soups, stews, side dishes, main courses, or sauces.

Garlic recipes:

7.   Carrots

Carrots are the commonly known root vegetable. They are also some of the most nutritious, offering vast amounts of vitamin A, vitamin K, and antioxidant beta-carotene.

High intake of beta carotene has been shown to protect against age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the common cause of vision loss. It can also lower the risk of certain cancers, including prostate, breast, and gastric cancers.

Carrot recipes:

8.   Celery root

Also known as celeriac, celery root is not the root of the celery stalks you’re likely to buy in the store. Although they belong to the same family, the two are different. Celery root is cultivated purposely for its root, while celery is grown for the stalks.

Unlike other root vegetables, celery root is less starchy but full of nutrients. It’s high in vitamin K, with a cup providing up to 80 percent of the daily requirement. Sufficient vitamin K intake is essential for blood clotting purposes and to enhance strong and healthy bones. It also contains a good amount of vitamins C and B6, phosphorus, potassium, fiber, and antioxidants. Read more on celery root here.

Peeled celery root can be eaten raw in salads, baked, roasted, boiled, or mashed for various recipes.

Celery root recipe:

9.   Horseradish

Horseradish is best known for its pungent taste and smell. It’s an ancient root vegetable that has been used for different medicinal purposes, including antibacterial and anti-cancer effects. Today, it’s commonly used as a condiment.

10. Rutabaga

Rutabaga is a root vegetable similar to a turnip. It belongs to the same family as turnip, cabbage, radish, cauliflower, and broccoli. It’s often said to be a cross between a cabbage and a turnip.

It’s a good source of fiber and rich in antioxidants, vitamins C, potassium, and manganese. Rutabaga makes for a great low-calorie substitute for different recipes.

You can enjoy it pureed, boiled, roasted, mashed with sweet potato, grated into salads, soups, or in vegetable casserole.

Final thoughts on the healthiest root vegetables:

Root vegetables refer to any vegetable that grows underground. There are many of them, but the best ones to eat more often include sweet potatoes, carrots, celery root, onion, garlic, beets, turnip, rutabaga, horseradish, and radishes.

They are rich in various nutrients and may help boost immunity, fight inflammation, promote healthy bones, improve eye health, and prevent chronic conditions, among others.

Besides their delicious and distinctive tastes, these vegetables are easy to prepare and incorporate into the diet.

Other root vegetables:

  1. Ratalu (Ube)
  2. Malanga Coco
  3. Yacon
  4. Sunchoke
  5. Watermelon Radish
  6. Cassava
  7. Yellow Yam

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