Turnips are great – completely delicious, fun to cook, easy to grow, and are typically in season, so they’re always fresh. The best part of the turnip, though, is arguably the greens. They are hearty, succulent, and, surprisingly, incredibly healthy. I would venture to say that turnip greens are one of the healthiest vegetables you can eat. And, since they’re available most of the year, you might as well enjoy them at least once or twice a week, along with the other greens you’re probably already eating.
They’re a little more difficult to track down, but with a little effort you can find them and consume them in all their glory. Find out more about the turnip green below.
Turnip Greens History and Culture
The exact time when turnips were first cultivated is still debated – and largely unknown – but it can be traced back to at least Roman times. During this time, turnips were a well-established crop, and a common vegetable found in many Roman’s kitchens. Thus, it’s thought that turnips existed in cultivation before this time, and there is some evidence that suggests it may have come from Western Asia. Still, it remains largely a mystery.
The turnip came to the US with the colonizers and became a staple in the south, and remain so to this day. Turnips enjoy popularity worldwide for their versatility as both a root and green vegetable. They are grown for market on every continent, with the exception of Antarctica.
Turnip Greens Health Benefits
Clearly, turnip greens are great for your health. With a staggering 220%DV vitamin A, 66%DV vitamin C, 20%DV calcium, 20%DV dietary fiber, 40%DV folates, and a variety of B vitamins, turnips have a lot to offer your health. Don’t forget the 660%DV vitamin, K! That’s no typo – 660%!
That high vitamin K value is one of the reasons turnip greens are such an efficient anti-inflammatory. The cardiovascular system has a tendency to succumb to inflammation easily, which puts unnecessary stress on it. Anti-inflammatory vitamins help regulate this system, which decreases the risk of heart disease and heart attacks.
The array of vitamins and minerals in turnip greens also makes it a strong cancer fighter. Vitamin A, C, and E, as well as manganese, are all extremely strong anti-oxidants. In the body, these work to seek out and neutralize free radicals that roam the body stressing out a variety of cells. When these cells are stressed, they have difficulty reproducing, which can lead to cell mutation – which is how cancer forms. These anti-oxidants prevent these free radicals from causing damage before it happens.
Turnip greens also help detoxify the body, so consuming it regularly will help keep your body clean of toxic buildup.
Eating More Turnip Greens
Turnip greens are very easy to work with in the kitchen. They can be eaten raw, steamed, boiled, sautéed, or even baked. When cooking up turnip greens, just think of how you’d cook up spinach and follow suit. They make a great addition to any pasta, soup, or egg dish that you can think of – great ways to incorporate more turnip greens into your diet.
It can be hard to track turnip greens down, for some. Supermarkets tend to chop off the greens on turnips, because this extends the life of the root.