Turnip greens are the edible leaves of the turnip plant (Brasicca napus). Although the bulbous roots are commonly consumed as a vegetable, the leaves are packed with more nutrition and provide tons of health benefits. The leaves have a slight bitter taste, which scientists believe is may be due to the high amount of calcium present in them. Turnip greens constitute an essential leafy vegetable in Southern American cooking. They can be added in salads or as an accompaniment to other dishes like pasta. Eating turnip greens regularly will boost your intake of many nutrients that are essential for maintaining good health and for lowering your risk of certain ailments.
Nutritional profile of Turnip greens
Turnip greens are very low in calories and contain more nutrients when compared to the roots. They are excellent sources of antioxidant flavonoids such as β-carotene, lutein and zea-xanthin. Turnip greens contain high amounts of vitamins like vitamin A, vitamin K, vitamin C, vitamin E and B complex vitamins like riboflavin, niacin, thiamin, folate, vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine) and pantothenic acid. The leaves are also a wonderful source of several minerals such as calcium, copper, iron, potassium, magnesium, manganese, and phosphorus. Turnip greens contain phytonutrients known as glucosinolates, which are converted into isothiocyanates that have anti-cancer properties.
Health benefits of Turnip greens
Turnip greens are one of the best sources of vitamins, minerals and several other health benefitting nutrients that can protect your body from several diseases. They are a good addition to a healthy and balanced diet as they are low in calories, fat, cholesterol, and sodium. Some of the health benefits of turnip greens include the following:
Turnip greens are good for digestive health
Turnip greens are high in fiber content, which makes them a great choice for a healthy digestive system. Dietary fiber helps in getting rid of excess cholesterol, in regulating bowel movements and in lowering your risk of digestive problems such as constipation and irregular bowel syndrome. The glucosinolates present in turnip greens are believed to provide many digestive benefits by preventing the overgrowth of the bacteria Helicobacter pylori in your stomach.
Turnip greens are an excellent source of antioxidants
Turnip greens contain high levels of beta-carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E, and manganese that exhibit immense antioxidant properties. In addition to these nutrients they also contain phytonutrients such as hydroxycinnamic acid, myricetin, isorhamnetin, quercetin, and kaempferol, all of which possess potent antioxidant qualities and help in reducing the risk of oxidative stress in your cells caused by the free radicals. Continual oxidative stress can lead to cell damage, which is a risk factor for the development of diseases like cancer. Thus by offering us wide range of antioxidant nutrients, turnip greens aid in lowering our risk of cancer as well as slow down the process of aging.
Turnip greens detoxify your body
It is important to eat a balanced and nutritional diet in order to strengthen your body’s detox system so that the harmful and unwanted toxins are efficiently removed from the body. Detoxification helps in preventing the buildup of toxins which can lead to damage of organs as well as the development of dangerous diseases like cancer. Turnip greens are excellent sources of antioxidant nutrients and sulfur containing nutrients that provide all the support for the efficient functioning of the detox system. They also contain phytonutrients called glucosinolates (gluconasturtiian and glucotropaeolin) that play a key role in stimulating the detoxification enzymes and in regulating their activity.
Turnip greens and anti-inflammatory effects
Turnip greens are a rich source of vitamin K and omega-3 fatty acids (in the form of alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA), both of which show strong anti-inflammatory properties. While Vitamin K directly regulates your inflammatory response, alpha-linolenic acid helps in the production of many of the body’s anti-inflammatory messaging molecules. Turnip greens are high in glucosinolates that may also offer important anti-inflammatory effects on the body.
Turnip greens for cardiovascular health
According to researchers, the anti-inflammatory effects of turnip greens provide several cardiovascular benefits. Another cardiovascular benefit of turnip greens is their ability to lower cholesterol. The high amount of fiber in these leaves prevent the absorption and accumulation of cholesterol by binding together with the bile acids inside the intestine allowing them to pass out of your body through the stool. The liver uses the existing supply of cholesterol to make up for the lost bile acids, as a result of which there is a reduction in the cholesterol levels. Turnip greens are a good source of folate, a B complex vitamin that supports the heart health by preventing the buildup of the amino acid homocysteine, a high level of which in the blood stream is linked to heart problems.
Turnip greens for healthy skin
Turnip greens offer several benefits for the skin as they are rich in nutrients like vitamin A, beta-carotene, vitamin C, and copper. These nutrients play a vital role in maintaining skin health. The high levels of vitamin A and vitamin C, in this vegetable helps in maintaining healthy and beautiful skin. Vitamin C, in addition to being a powerful antioxidant helps stimulate the production of collagen that increases the elasticity of the skin. The antioxidant property of vitamin C helps in eliminating free radicals which are responsible for causing damage to the skin cells, leading to early ageing of the skin. Thus, the regular intake of turnip greens helps in keeping the signs of ageing such as wrinkles, dark spots and fine lines at bay.
Turnip green promote healthy growth of hair
Eating turnip greens regularly can help in promoting the growth of healthy and strong hair. The high amount of copper in this vegetable is involved in the formation of melanin, a pigment that provides color to your hair. Moreover, turnip greens are rich in many other nutrients and antioxidants that are needed for maintaining healthy hair.
Turnip greens for preventing iron-deficiency anemia
Iron is an important mineral that is found abundant in turnip greens. A cup of cooked turnip greens can provide 14 percent of the recommended daily values of iron for men and 6 percent of the values for women. Iron is essential for the formation of healthy red blood cells, which in turn ensures the proper circulation of oxygen to all parts of your body. A deficiency in iron can lead to low red blood cell count or anemia, which can cause symptoms like fatigue, tiredness, breathlessness and pale skin.
Turnip greens for strong bones and teeth
Turnip greens contain good amounts of bone healthy minerals like calcium, magnesium, potassium and phosphorus. Calcium is needed for the health of your bones and teeth. A diet rich in this mineral may prevent bone loss, bone fractures and osteoporosis. Magnesium helps in absorbing and using the calcium that you obtain from the diet. In addition, the copper found in turnip greens increases the production of connective tissues in your body.
Turnip greens aid in weight loss
Turnip greens are a low in calories and fat, which makes them an ideal weight loss food. Moreover the high amount of fiber in this vegetable controls your hunger and prevents overeating by making you feel full for a long period of time.
Turnip greens for healthy eyes
Turnip greens are an excellent source of vitamin A that is needed for healthy eyes and good vision. The lutein in this vegetable helps in preventing loss of vision due to macular degeneration. The antioxidants in turnip greens promote better eye health by preventing free radical oxidative damage to the cells. This antioxidant property of turnip greens helps in preventing eye disorders like age related macular degeneration and cataract.
Turnip greens can boost your immune system
Turnip greens are rich in vitamin C that acts an immune stimulant. This vitamin has been found to reduce the duration and severity of the symptoms of many respiratory ailments. The antioxidant property of vitamin C helps in reducing inflammation. The B group vitamins play a vital role in keeping your immune system strong and healthy. Turnip greens are high in some these vitamins such as vitamin B6, folate, thiamin and riboflavin.
Turnip greens help in maintaining healthy lungs
Regular consumption of turnip greens helps in maintaining the proper health of the lungs. This vegetable is particularly useful for people who smoke a lot because tobacco smokes contains carcinogenic substances such as benzo(a)pyrene that may lead to deficiency of vitamin A in your body. Vitamin A deficiency can lead to lung swelling and damage of air sacs (emphysema), a condition that can cause difficulty in breathing. Turnip greens are an excellent source of vitamin A and so its consumption helps in keeping your lungs healthy.
How to cook turnip greens with bacons?
Many think they are bitter in taste. They are often cooked by flavoring with vinegar. You may try them with bacons. Here is a simple recipe. In a medium pot cook 1 diced onion and 3-5 slices of bacon over medium heat until they are cooked. Add about 1 quart of chicken stock to it. Place 8-10 cups of freshly cut and washed turnip greens. Add seasoning as per your taste. Pepper seasonsing along with lemon/ vinegar works great. After it starts boiling, allow it to simmer for 30 minutes on low flame. Serve hot in soup bowls. Isn’t it simple? You may also try Turnip green pesto, turnip green soup or creamed turnip greens. Feel free to share your turnip green recipes here.
Eating turnip greens is one of the ways to optimize your intake of nutrients. They can be served in a variety of ways, which includes blanching, steaming, and sautéing. Turnip greens can be served on their own or can be added to stews, salads and casseroles. Incorporating this vegetable in your diet 2 to 3 times a week can help you obtain all the fantastic health benefits it has to offer. Now that you know the numerous health benefits of turnip greens, make sure to include them in your diet.Image Credits: Flickr - Johnny Stiletto