Native to Europe, Kohlrabi (Brassica oleracea) or the German turnip is a cruciferous vegetable (family that also includes cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, kale and Brussels sprout) that can offer you tons of health benefits. The taste and texture of this vegetable is similar to that of cabbage or broccoli stem, but sweeter and milder. Kohlrabi comes in two different colors – green and purple. Even though the color differs externally, the flesh of both types has the same white-yellow color. Kohlrabi can be eaten raw in salads or added to soups, made into fritters, stir fried, steamed or roasted. Although it looks a bit weird or ugly, kohlrabi is considered to be one of the healthiest vegetables on earth.
Nutritional profile of kohlrabi
What makes kohlrabi fantastically healthy for our body is that it is low in calories, has zero cholesterol and has almost negligible amount of fat. Plus it is rich in nutrients like vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber and antioxidants. It contains many phytochemicals such as sulforaphane, isothiocyanates, and indole-3-carbinol that have antioxidant properties and help in protecting against the harmful free radicals. Kohlrabi is an excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin K, vitamin E and B group vitamins such as niacin, thiamin, pyridoxine (vitamin B-6), pantothenic acid and folate. It also contains an impressive list of minerals which includes calcium, copper, iron, manganese, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus and selenium.
Health benefits of kohlrabi
Just like the other members of the cruciferous vegetable family, Kohlrabi also provides many health benefits. Here is a list of few of the most important health benefits of kohlrabi.
Skin benefits of kohlrabi
Kohlrabi juice is found to be beneficial for relieving many skin ailments. Drinking the juice of Kohlrabi and carrot in the morning with plenty of water helps in making your skin healthy. This vegetable is rich in antioxidants that help prevent early aging. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that helps in stimulating the production of collagen that in turn helps in increasing the elasticity of the skin, making it look healthy and supple. It also helps in delaying the appearance of aging signs like wrinkles, fine lines and pigmentation.
Kohlrabi fights acidity
Kohlrabi is alkaline in nature and hence its juice can be used as an effective alkalizing drink to relieve acidity. If you suffer from acidosis, it is a good idea to include this vegetable in your regular diet as it helps in neutralizing the negative effects of acidity and offers immediate relief.
Kohlrabi protects your heart
The high levels of potassium in kohlrabi help in maintaining a steady heart rate and also in lowering high blood pressure by neutralizing the effects of sodium. This vegetable is low in saturated fat and cholesterol and is also found to aid in lowering the bad cholesterol levels. The cholesterol and blood pressure lowering effects of kohlrabi makes it a heart healthy vegetable that protects you from cardiovascular diseases.
Kohlrabi is an immune booster
Kohlrabi has excellent immune boosting capabilities which can be attributed to the presence of high amount of Vitamin C in it. A cup of raw, fresh kohlrabi can provide you with approximately 140 % of your recommended daily allowance of Vitamin C. A strong immune system is very important in fighting off all kinds of diseases. Vitamin C plays a vital role in strengthening your immune system and protects your body from various diseases- from the common cold to the more dangerous heart diseases and cancer.
Kohlrabi provides relief from asthma
Kohlrabi is often recommended for people having trouble with bronchitis and asthma. The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects of this vegetable help in combating asthma as wells as in preventing other types of lung problems.
Kohlrabi promotes healthy digestion
Eating kohlrabi regularly is a great way to get plenty of fiber into your digestive system. Not only does dietary fiber normalize your bowel movements, it also contributes to a healthy digestion and prevents digestive disorders like constipation and irritable bowel syndrome. Fiber also assists in protecting the number of good and healthy bacteria in your stomach, which aids in digestion and promotes better absorption of nutrients by your body.
Kohlrabi is good for weight loss
Kohlrabi is low in calories and loaded with dietary fiber. Fiber improves metabolism and also makes you feel fuller for long hours. For those who are trying to lose weight, kohlrabi is definitely one of the best vegetables to be added to their weight loss diet.
Kohlrabi has anti-cancer properties
Kohlrabi is rich in many antioxidant photochemicals that are considered to play key roles in preventing cancer. These anti-oxidants helps in fighting off free radicals in the body that may cause oxidative stress and damage to the cells, leading to various types of cancers.
Kohlrabi improves the functioning of nerves and muscles
Potassium deficiency can inhibit relaxation of the muscles leading to rigid muscles and impaired function. It can also lead to many mental symptoms such as depression and some nervous disorders. Kohlrabi is rich in potassium, an electrolyte that is important for maintaining the normal functioning of the nerves and muscles.
Kohlrabi improves metabolism
Kohlrabi is a rich source of B group vitamins that help in improving your metabolism by in converting carbohydrates, proteins and fat into energy. Since these vitamins regulate metabolism and increase the energy levels, they are beneficial in promoting weight loss too.
Kohlrabi prevents anemia
The high levels of iron found in kohlrabi helps to increase the number of red blood cells in the body. This helps in preventing anemia, a condition mainly caused by iron deficiency and is characterized by fatigue, weakness, headaches, stomach disorders and disorientation. The calcium in kohlrabi helps in increasing the uptake of iron by your body.
Kohlrabi improves bone strength
Kohlrabi is a vegetable having high amounts of bone healthy minerals like manganese, calcium, and potassium. These minerals help in promoting growth, development and strength of your bones. Your bones become weaker as you grow older and so one of the best ways to slow down this process is to eat foods such as kohlrabi that are rich in these minerals. Keeping your bones strong and healthy can help in preventing bone disorders like osteoporosis.
Kohlrabi is good for the eyes
Vitamin A is a nutrient that is associated with maintaining the health of your eyes. Kohlrabi is exceptionally high in carotenes, including beta carotene, which functions as a potent antioxidant protecting the cells including those of the eyes from oxidative damage caused by free radicals. Vitamin A also helps in preventing age related macular degeneration and other eye disorders such as cataracts.
Selection and storage of kohlrabi
As mentioned before, kohlrabi is available in two colors – purple and green. If you plan to buy the green ones, make sure the color is light green and if you are buying the purple ones, go for dark purple color. Avoid kohlrabi with yellow or wilted leaves and also those having cracks and damages on the stem. Avoid the ones that are too big as they tend to be stringy. For storing this vegetable, cut off the leaves near the stem and then store the bulbs in Ziploc bags inside the refrigerator. The leaves can be wrapped in a moist paper towel and kept in Ziploc bags. Both the leaves and the stem will keep fresh for up to 7 days if kept in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator.
Safety profile of kohlrabi
Kohlrabi is not known to cause any side effects in healthy people. Since it may contain plant-based compounds called goitrogens, which is commonly found in cruciferous vegetables, people with thyroid problems should avoid kohlrabi as these compounds may cause the thyroid gland to swell. Kohlrabi also contains of uric acid and oxalic acid, that may make conditions like gout, kidney stones worse. So it is better for individuals suffering from these conditions to avoid this vegetable.
Kohlrabi is an extremely versatile vegetable that not only adds taste and texture to your dishes but also helps in enhancing your overall health. It is one of those healthiest foods that are low in calories, low in saturated fat, low in cholesterol, and high in nutrient content. Moreover it is rich in many active compounds that can ward off many diseases. If you are looking for ways to improve your health naturally, then kohlrabi is undoubtedly a perfect addition to your daily diet.Image Credits: Wikimedia - Anita Martinz , Flickr - B.D's World