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Turnip vs. Onion — Health Impact and Nutrition Comparison

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Article author photo Ani Harutyunyan by Ani Harutyunyan | Last updated on July 18, 2023
Medically reviewed by Igor Bussel Article author photo Igor Bussel
Turnip
vs
Onion

Summary

Turnips are nearly three times higher in vitamin C than onions. They are also richer in copper, potassium,  and calcium

On the other hand, onions provide more vitamin A and phosphorus than turnips. Onions are also richer in proteins.

Introduction

This article will compare turnips and onions regarding their nutritional content and health impact. Here we will discuss the differences between raw turnip (1) and raw onion (2).

Macronutrients

Although onion and turnip contain about 90% water, the distribution of macronutrients differs. The nutrients they give are compared below in the quantities that they provide.

Macronutrient Comparison

Macronutrient breakdown side-by-side comparison
Turnip
2
:
2
Onion
Contains more Other +100%
Contains more Protein +22.2%
Contains more Carbs +45.3%
Equal in Fats - 0.1
Equal in Water - 89.11
6% 92%
Protein: 0.9 g
Fats: 0.1 g
Carbs: 6.43 g
Water: 91.87 g
Other: 0.7 g
9% 89%
Protein: 1.1 g
Fats: 0.1 g
Carbs: 9.34 g
Water: 89.11 g
Other: 0.35 g
Contains more Other +100%
Contains more Protein +22.2%
Contains more Carbs +45.3%
Equal in Fats - 0.1
Equal in Water - 89.11

Calories

Turnips and onions are low-calorie foods because they are non-sweet vegetables. However, onions are higher in calories than turnips, providing 40 calories per 100g, while turnips have 28 calories.

Carbs

Both onions and turnips are low in carbs. However, in terms of carbs, onions are higher compared to turnips. They provide 3g more carbs.

Turnips are lower in net carbs: 100g has 4.6g of net carbs, while the same amount of onions contains 7.6g.

Protein

Turnips and onions are plant food products. Hence, they do not provide much protein. Still, onions are higher in proteins than turnips.

Vitamins

The two vegetables are rich in different vitamins.

Turnips are an excellent source of vitamin C: they are approximately three times higher in vitamin C (21mg per 100g) than Onions (7.4mg per 100g).

Onions are richer in vitamins B1, B6, and K, while turnips provide more vitamins B3, B5, and E.

Vitamin Comparison

Vitamin comparison score is based on the number of vitamins by which one or the other food is richer. The "coverage" charts below show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food.
Turnip
5
:
5
Onion
Contains more Vitamin E +50%
Contains more Vitamin C +183.8%
Contains more Vitamin B2 +11.1%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +244.8%
Contains more Vitamin B5 +62.6%
Contains more Vitamin A +∞%
Contains more Vitamin B1 +15%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +33.3%
Contains more Folate +26.7%
Contains more Vitamin K +300%
Equal in Vitamin B2 - 0.027
Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin C Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Folate Vitamin B12 Vitamin K 0% 1% 0% 70% 10% 7% 8% 12% 21% 12% 0% 1%
Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin C Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Folate Vitamin B12 Vitamin K 1% 1% 0% 25% 12% 7% 3% 8% 28% 15% 0% 1%
Contains more Vitamin E +50%
Contains more Vitamin C +183.8%
Contains more Vitamin B2 +11.1%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +244.8%
Contains more Vitamin B5 +62.6%
Contains more Vitamin A +∞%
Contains more Vitamin B1 +15%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +33.3%
Contains more Folate +26.7%
Contains more Vitamin K +300%
Equal in Vitamin B2 - 0.027

Minerals

Turnips are the champions in this section. They are higher in calcium, iron, potassium, zinc, and copper.

Turnips are more than two times higher in copper than onions.

You can check these two vegetables' mineral compositions in the chart below.

Mineral Comparison

Mineral comparison score is based on the number of minerals by which one or the other food is richer. The "coverage" charts below show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food.
Turnip
8
:
2
Onion
Contains more Calcium +30.4%
Contains more Iron +42.9%
Contains more Potassium +30.8%
Contains more Zinc +58.8%
Contains more Copper +117.9%
Contains more Selenium +40%
Contains less Sodium -94%
Equal in Magnesium - 10
Equal in Phosphorus - 29
Equal in Manganese - 0.129
Calcium Iron Magnesium Phosphorus Potassium Sodium Zinc Copper Manganese Selenium 9% 12% 8% 12% 17% 9% 8% 29% 18% 4%
Calcium Iron Magnesium Phosphorus Potassium Sodium Zinc Copper Manganese Selenium 7% 8% 8% 13% 13% 1% 5% 14% 17% 3%
Contains more Calcium +30.4%
Contains more Iron +42.9%
Contains more Potassium +30.8%
Contains more Zinc +58.8%
Contains more Copper +117.9%
Contains more Selenium +40%
Contains less Sodium -94%
Equal in Magnesium - 10
Equal in Phosphorus - 29
Equal in Manganese - 0.129

Glycemic Index

The glycemic index of onions is equal to 15, while turnips have a glycemic index equal to 73. 

Onions are considered a low-GI food, whereas turnips are high-GI food.

Health impact

Cancer

Turnips and Onions contain different plant compounds with anticancer properties.

Turnips have chemicals called glucosinates. They are a group of bioactive compounds with antioxidant capacities that help reduce oxidative stress-reducing cancer risk (3) (4). A higher intake of glucosinates is linked with a reduced risk of colon, rectal, and lung cancers (5) (6) (7).

The anticancer properties of Onions are mostly linked with sulfur-containing compounds. For instance, onion provides onionin A, a sulfur-containing chemical that decreases tumor development and inhibits the spread of lung and ovarian cancers (8) (9).

Diabetes

Both these vegetables have anti-diabetic effects connected with the different chemicals they provide.

Turnips help maintain blood glucose levels by lowering glucose production in the liver and reducing the absorption of carbs (10) (11).

Onions possess anti-diabetic effects by producing quercetin, an antioxidant that helps control blood sugar regulation (12).

Protection Against Bacteria 

Both Onions and Turnips are involved in antibacterial activities.

Turnips glucosinates can turn into isothyocianates that inhibit bacterial and microbial growth (13). These compounds are effective against harmful bacteria such as E.Coli and S. Aureus (14) (15).

Onion extracts inhibit Vibrio cholerae and Helicobacter pylori (16) (17).

Cardiovascular Health

Onions have various antioxidants that aid in combating oxidative stress and protecting the body from harm. One such antioxidant found in abundance in onions is quercetin. Quercetin has the potential to reduce high blood pressure levels. Studies have demonstrated that using onion extracts can significantly decrease systolic blood pressure, thanks to their quercetin content (18).

Article author photo Ani Harutyunyan
Education: General Medicine at YSMU
Last updated: July 18, 2023
Medically reviewed by Igor Bussel

Infographic

Turnip vs Onion infographic
Infographic link

Fat Type Comparison

Fat type breakdown side-by-side comparison
Turnip
2
:
1
Onion
Contains less Saturated Fat -73.8%
Contains more Polyunsaturated fat +211.8%
Contains more Monounsaturated Fat +116.7%
16% 9% 76%
Saturated Fat: 0.011 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 0.006 g
Polyunsaturated fat: 0.053 g
58% 18% 24%
Saturated Fat: 0.042 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 0.013 g
Polyunsaturated fat: 0.017 g
Contains less Saturated Fat -73.8%
Contains more Polyunsaturated fat +211.8%
Contains more Monounsaturated Fat +116.7%

Comparison summary table

Pay attention to the rightmost column. It displays the amounts side by side, giving a clearer understanding of the difference.
Turnip Onion
Lower in Sugar ok
Lower in Saturated Fat ok
Lower in price ok
Rich in minerals ok
Lower in Sodium ok
Lower in Glycemic Index ok
Lower in Cholesterol Equal
Rich in vitamins Equal

All nutrients comparison - raw data values

Nutrient Turnip Onion Opinion
Net carbs 4.63g 7.64g Onion
Protein 0.9g 1.1g Onion
Fats 0.1g 0.1g
Carbs 6.43g 9.34g Onion
Calories 28kcal 40kcal Onion
Fructose 1.29g Onion
Sugar 3.8g 4.24g Turnip
Fiber 1.8g 1.7g Turnip
Calcium 30mg 23mg Turnip
Iron 0.3mg 0.21mg Turnip
Magnesium 11mg 10mg Turnip
Phosphorus 27mg 29mg Onion
Potassium 191mg 146mg Turnip
Sodium 67mg 4mg Onion
Zinc 0.27mg 0.17mg Turnip
Copper 0.085mg 0.039mg Turnip
Manganese 0.134mg 0.129mg Turnip
Selenium 0.7µg 0.5µg Turnip
Vitamin A 0IU 2IU Onion
Vitamin E 0.03mg 0.02mg Turnip
Vitamin C 21mg 7.4mg Turnip
Vitamin B1 0.04mg 0.046mg Onion
Vitamin B2 0.03mg 0.027mg Turnip
Vitamin B3 0.4mg 0.116mg Turnip
Vitamin B5 0.2mg 0.123mg Turnip
Vitamin B6 0.09mg 0.12mg Onion
Folate 15µg 19µg Onion
Vitamin K 0.1µg 0.4µg Onion
Tryptophan 0.009mg 0.014mg Onion
Threonine 0.025mg 0.021mg Turnip
Isoleucine 0.036mg 0.014mg Turnip
Leucine 0.033mg 0.025mg Turnip
Lysine 0.036mg 0.039mg Onion
Methionine 0.011mg 0.002mg Turnip
Phenylalanine 0.017mg 0.025mg Onion
Valine 0.03mg 0.021mg Turnip
Histidine 0.014mg 0.014mg
Saturated Fat 0.011g 0.042g Turnip
Monounsaturated Fat 0.006g 0.013g Onion
Polyunsaturated fat 0.053g 0.017g Turnip

Which food is preferable for your diet?

ok
ok
is better in case of low diet
Turnip Onion
Low Fats diet Equal
Low Carbs diet ok
Low Calories diet ok
Low Glycemic Index diet ok

People also compare

Vitamins & Minerals Daily Need Coverage Score

The summary scores indicate the extent to which this food can fulfill your daily vitamin and mineral requirements if you consume 3 servings, consisting of 100 grams of each (an approximation of 3 serving sizes).
Vitamins Daily Need Coverage Score
12%
Turnip
8%
Onion
Minerals Daily Need Coverage Score
12%
Turnip
8%
Onion

Comparison summary

Which food is lower in Sugar?
Turnip
Turnip is lower in Sugar (difference - 0.44g)
Which food is lower in Saturated Fat?
Turnip
Turnip is lower in Saturated Fat (difference - 0.031g)
Which food is cheaper?
Turnip
Turnip is cheaper (difference - $0.2)
Which food is richer in minerals?
Turnip
Turnip is relatively richer in minerals
Which food contains less Sodium?
Onion
Onion contains less Sodium (difference - 63mg)
Which food is lower in glycemic index?
Onion
Onion is lower in glycemic index (difference - 58)
Which food contains less Cholesterol?
?
The foods are relatively equal in Cholesterol (0 mg)
Which food is richer in vitamins?
?
It cannot be stated which food is richer in vitamins. See the charts below for detailed information. See the charts below for detailed information. See the charts below for detailed information.

References

The source of all the nutrient values on the page (excluding the main article the sources for which are presented separately if present) is the USDA's FoodCentral. The exact links to the foods presented on this page can be found below.

  1. Turnip - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170465/nutrients
  2. Onion - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170000/nutrients

All the Daily Values are presented for males aged 31-50, for 2000-calorie diets.

Data provided by FoodStruct.com should be considered and used as information only. Please consult your physician before beginning any diet.