Carb Information for Turnips

This is a low-carb root vegetable

Turnip
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Turnips are root vegetables that have less than a quarter of the carbohydrate of potatoes, and so are great choices for people who follow a low-carb diet. Turnips are members of the same plant family as cabbages, kale, broccoli, and cauliflower (cruciferous vegetables). The strength of the flavor varies but becomes milder with cooking. Turnip greens are also nutritious and another option when you're looking for a leafy vegetable.

Do you find cruciferous vegetables to be bitter? You probably have a genetic variant that allows you to taste a certain chemical (phenylthiocarbamide) which tastes bitter.

Carbohydrate and Fiber Counts for Turnips

  • 1/2 cup of raw turnip cubes: 3 grams of effective (net) carbohydrate plus 1 gram of fiber and 18 calories
  • 1 medium turnip, a little over 4 ounces (1/4 pound): 6 grams of effective (net) carbohydrate plus 2 grams of fiber and 34 calories
  • 1/2 cup of cooked mashed turnip: 3.5 grams of effective (net) carbohydrate plus 3 grams of fiber and 25 calories

Glycemic Index for Turnips

No studies of the glycemic index of turnips have been reported. There is one study of rutabagas, which are similar. The glycemic index for that study was 72.

Glycemic Load of Turnips

The glycemic load takes into account the amount of the food that is eaten and how it affects your blood sugar and insulin response. A value of less than 10 is considered to be low.

  • 1/2 cup of raw turnip cubes: 1
  • 1 medium turnip, a little over 4 ounces (1/4 pound): 2
  • 1/2 cup of cooked mashed turnip: 1

Health Benefits of Turnips

Turnips are an excellent source of vitamin C, a very good source of fiber, and a good source of potassium, manganese, calcium, and vitamin B6. Turnips are also cruciferous vegetables (also called brassicas or cole crops).

Cruciferous vegetables are high in glucosinolates, which are phytonutrients thought to be helpful in protecting our bodies from certain types of cancers. They are broken down in the body into indoles, nitriles, thiocyanates, and isothiocyanates. Studies in humans as to the benefits against cancer have had mixed results. Glucosinates also has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties.

How to Cook and Serve Turnips

Turnips can be cooked almost any way you'd cook a potato. They can be roasted in the oven, boiled, steamed, cooked in the microwave, sauteed on the stove, or even grilled. You can even make low-carb oven-roasted turnip French fries. They can be served raw (especially the small baby turnips), grated, cooked in chunks, mashed, or cooked with meat as in a pot roast. The only caveat is that turnips cook faster than potatoes because they are a lot less dense.

Herbs and seasonings that go well with turnips include garlic, ginger, bacon, mustard, cinnamon, apples, parsley, thyme, and tarragon. Experiment with this low-carb root vegetable and see how you can replace potatoes with turnips.

Sources:

Atkinson FS, Foster-Powell K, Brand-Miller JC. International Tables of Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load Values: 2008. Diabetes Care. 2008;31(12):2281-2283. doi:10.2337/dc08-1239.

Cruciferous Vegetables and Cancer Prevention. National Cancer Institute. https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/diet/cruciferous-vegetables-fact-sheet.

Minich DM, Bland JS. A review of the clinical efficacy and safety of cruciferous vegetable phytochemicals". Nutrition Reviews 2007 Jun;65(6 Pt 1):259-67

USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, United States Department of Agriculture. https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/.

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