What are turnip greens?
Turnip greens are simply the top dark greens of the turnips. They don’t usually get much attention in the culinary world; however, they are edible and highly nutritious.
Turnip greens can be enjoyed the same way you would kale or collard greens. They are great for soups, stir-fries, stews, and their peppery zing makes them a precious ingredient in Southern-style dishes.
Consuming them raw may not be a good idea since they are highly fibrous and tough, making it difficult for the stomach to digest.
Turnip greens belong to the cruciferous class of vegetables, known for their high levels of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other beneficial compounds like antioxidants. They are also famous for boosting immunity and lowering the risk of various chronic conditions like diabetes, asthma, Alzheimer’s disease, and cancer.
This article provides more on turnip green nutritional, health benefits, and risk factors.
Turnip greens nutrition:
Turnip greens can also be referred to as turnip tops or turnip leaves.
They are a good source of phytochemicals, fiber, and other essential vitamins.
Research shows an impressive amount of vitamins A, B, C, and K and a wide range of antioxidants, including glucosinolate, a sulfur-containing molecule with potent anti-cancer properties.
They are also rich in other nutrients including fiber, and minerals such as folate, manganese, calcium, copper, potassium, and magnesium.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, one cup (144 grams) of cooked turnip greens provides about:
- Calories: 8
- Carbohydrates: 3 grams
- Protein: 6 grams
- Fiber: 5 grams
- Fat: 3 grams
- Vitamin K: 529 micrograms, or 662 percent of the daily requirement
- Vitamin A: 10,982 IU, or 220 percent of the daily requirements
- Folate: 170 micrograms, or 42 percent of the daily requirement
- Vitamin C: 5 milligrams, or 66 percent of the daily requirement
- Manganese: 5 milligrams, or 24 percent of the daily requirement
- Calcium: 197 milligrams, or 20 percent of the daily requirement
- Copper: 4 milligrams, or 18 percent of the daily requirement
- Vitamin E: 7 milligrams, or 14 percent of the daily requirement
- Vitamin B6: 3 milligrams, or 13 percent of the daily requirement
- Magnesium: 7 milligrams, or 8 percent of the daily requirement
- Potassium: 292 milligrams, or 8 percent of the daily requirement
- Riboflavin (B2): 1 milligrams, or 6 percent of the daily requirement
- Iron: 2 milligrams, or 6 percent of the daily requirement
Turnip greens benefits:
Turnip greens are among the richest sources of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants.
Regular consumption may offer various health benefits like:
1. Lower risk of heart disease
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S., and nutrition is essential in increasing or decreasing its risk.
According to a report published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, cruciferous vegetables are associated with reduced mortality from heart disease in both men and women.
Cruciferous vegetables are rich in folate, fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants that fight disease and promote heart health in various ways.
For example, turnip greens are great at lowering LDL cholesterol oxidation, which increases your risk of developing cardiovascular condition.
The high folate content in turnip also prevents the harmful build-up of homocysteine within the arteries. Homocysteine is a type of amino acid usually broken down by folate, vitamin B12, and B6 to create other chemicals that the body needs.
Too much homocysteine is often a sign of vitamin deficiency, and it may increase your risk of heart disease, stroke, and dementia.
Cruciferous vegetables are also effective in fighting inflammation, preventing oxidative stress, and lowering blood pressure, all of which may contribute to cardiovascular disease.
2. Promote strong and healthy bones
Vitamin K is an essential nutrient for bone health, and turnip green provides lots of it.
With a single cup of cooked turnip greens offering 600 percent of your daily requirements, eating them often may help maintain bone health and prevent fragile bones, especially as one gets older. It may also increase bone density and lower the risk of hip fractures common with vitamin K deficiency.
In one study, low levels of vitamin K were associated with low bone mineral density compared to high vitamin K intakes.
3. It may help fight cancer
Leafy greens, including cruciferous vegetables, contain antioxidants that have been shown to prevent certain cancers, including breast, bladder, lung, colon, prostate, and ovarian.
These antioxidants prevent oxidative cell damage, including DNA damage that may cause cell mutation leading to cancer formation.
Turnip greens are exceptionally high in glucosinolates, a sulfur compound with powerful anti-cancer properties. Glucosinolates are especially effective in digestive tract cancers such as stomach, colon, rectal cancers, and bladder cancers.
This antioxidant also stimulates healthy cell production while promoting tumor cell death.
Additionally, studies also show that high vitamin C and A in cruciferous vegetables may further protect the body against cancer.
4. Improving eye health
Turnip greens are rich in carotenoid antioxidants like lutein, beta-carotene, and zeaxanthin that protect the eyes.
Lutein and zeaxanthin are found in leafy greens and other colored fruits and vegetables.
They are also found in high concentrations in the macula and retina of the human eye. These antioxidants play an essential role in absorbing the damaging U.V. light and blue light from entering the eye. This helps preserve healthy cells and prevent oxidative damage that may lead to eye conditions such as macular degeneration.
5. May protect against cognitive decline
Turnip greens are high in sulforaphane, which has been shown to protect against cognitive decline.
Sulforaphane has a cytoprotective effect against oxidative stress, thus preventing brain damage and maintaining cognitive functions.
In one study, a sulforaphane extract provided neuroprotective effects compared to a placebo.
Can you eat turnip greens?
Like other cruciferous vegetables, turnip greens are safe and healthy to consume. The only thing that could have been of concern is oxalate levels; however, these greens have minimal amounts that should not bother you.
Oxalates are naturally occurring compounds found in various whole plant foods. When taken in high amounts, oxalates may crystallize, causing kidney stones or worsening gout symptoms in sensitive individuals. So in case of these conditions, it’s better to discuss with your doctor specific restrictions.
Turnip greens are cruciferous vegetables rich in antioxidants, vitamins, fiber, and minerals essential for good health.
Eating them can reduce inflammation and prevent oxidative stress that may increase your risk of heart disease, neurodegenerative disorders, eye problems, and certain cancers. It may also promote bone health by improving bone mineral density, thus lowering the risk of weak bones and its associated effects.
You can use turnip greens for soups, stews, or any other recipe similar to kale or collard greens.
More green vegetables:
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