Turnip vs Radish - Health impact and Nutrition Comparison
History and origins
Turnips and radishes belong to the family of root vegetables. Meaning that the edible part is the root of the vegetable that is grown under the soil. It is important to note that the green leaves are also edible.
Turnip and radish originate from middle and east Asia.
Turnip cultivation and domestication date back to the 7th century BC in the Greek regions. Radish cultivation on the other hand dates back to the 3rd century BC in the southeastern parts of Asia.
Turnips were introduced to Europe and mostly England in the 18th century.
Radishes, on the other hand, were important in the agricultural development of northern America. They were one of the earliest crops ever brought to America in the 16th century.
It is important to note that large turnips are also called swedes or rutabagas.
Differences and Similarities in Appearance and Taste
Turnips and radishes come in different colors and sizes. In this article, we are going to take into consideration medium-sized turnips that have a white and purple color and small-sized red colored radishes.
Raw turnips have a spicy and mustardy flavor however, when cooked it gives a sweet and earthy flavor. On the other hand, radish has a zesty and spicy flavor but similar to turnips, when cooked they give a sweet earthy flavor.
Turnips are mostly cultivated in temperate climate regions. The harvest takes place during summer.
Radishes on the other hand are available throughout the year. There are spring, summer, and winter radishes.
Turnips can be consumed in various ways such as raw added on top of salads to increase flavor and texture.
Turnips can also be boiled, roasted, and mashed. It can also be used to prepare coleslaw preparation instead of cabbage.
A famous middle-eastern pickle is the turnip pickle which is usually done with beetroot and vinegar.
Radishes, similar to turnips, can be consumed similarly. The difference in radishes is that they have a less mustardy flavor thus they are mostly consumed raw or pickled compared to turnips.
Radish is cheaper than a turnip, but the price difference is not very high. They are nearly similar compared to each other.
In this article, we are going to be comparing the differences between turnips and radishes based on their nutritional data, health impact, and downsides.
Nutritional data comparison
Radishes are lower in calories compared to turnips. 100g of radish contains 16 calories compared to turnips which contain 28 calories. It is important to note that both are classified as low-calorie foods.
Turnips are classified as high glycemic index foods. The glycemic index of turnips is 73. On the other hand, radishes are classified as low glycemic index foods. The glycemic index of radish is 32. Radish has a lower glycemic index compared to turnip.
Turnips contain more carbs than radish. Turnips contain 2 times more carbs compared to radish.
Turnips and radishes have similar amounts of fiber.
Fat and protein
Turnips and radishes have negligible amounts of fats and proteins.
Turnips are richer in vitamin C by 42% compared to radishes. In addition to that, turnips are richer in vitamin B6 and most other B complex vitamins.
On the other hand, radishes are richer in folate.
300g of turnips satisfy 70% of the daily requirement of vitamin C and 21% of vitamin B6. Whereas, 300g of radishes satisfy 50% of the daily requirement of vitamin C and 19% of folate requirements.
Turnips are richer in copper compared to radishes. Turnips contain 70% more copper.
On the other hand, radishes are richer in iron and potassium. Radishes are also lower in sodium compared to turnips by 42%.
Bioactive compounds with pharmaceutical effects
Important chemicals present in turnips that have health importance are glucosinolates, isothiocyanates, phenylpropionitrile, brassica phenanthrene A, and flavonoid phenolics and arvelexin.
On the other hand, radish contains the following important compounds:
Flavonoids, phenols, polyphenols, pelargonidin, and isothiocyanates.
Turnips have anti-carcinogenic and anti-tumor properties. The main components in turnips that provide these characteristics are glucosinolates, isothiocyanates. (1)
Radish has anti-carcinogenic properties. Radish metabolites like glucosinolates, isothiocyanates induce apoptosis and cancer cell death. This effect has been manifested in different types of cancers like liver cancer, colon cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, cervical cancer, and lung cancer. (2) (3)
The flavonoids and phenolic compounds present in turnips have antioxidative characteristics. They are responsible for the scavenging effect of free radicals and reducing overall levels of oxidative stress. (4) (5)
On the other hand, radish also has antioxidative properties. Polyphenols provide high scavenging properties of free radicals which in turn reduces oxidative stress. In addition to that, pyrogallol and vanillic acid present in radish have anti-oxidative properties. Radish anthocyanins have chemoprotective characteristics on overall stress-induced damages on normal body cells. (6)
Turnip has anti-inflammatory characteristics which are due to the activity of arvelexin. (7)
Comparatively, radish contains anti-inflammatory compounds that have a bioactive effect similar to NSAIDs which suppress the activity of COX-2, a pro-inflammatory compound. It is important to note that these anti-inflammatory compounds are also present in radish leaves. (8)
In addition to their anti-inflammatory characteristics, arvelexin present in turnips has antihypertensive and hypolipidemic properties. The regulation of blood pressure and the decrease in blood lipid levels overall provide the cardioprotective role of turnips. (7)
Comparatively, radish is rich in nitrate which has a cardioprotective property. In addition to that, it also protects vascular tissue and prevents platelet aggregation. Overall, these characteristics help maintain a healthy and normal cardiovascular homeostasis. (9)
Obesity, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome
Ethanolic extracts present in turnips have anti-obesity properties. These compounds inhibit the accumulation of adipocytes, in addition to that, it stimulates lipolysis meaning that it mobilizes the fat deposits in the body and metabolizes them. (10)
The ethanolic extracts in turnips also have anti-diabetic properties. It improves blood glucose levels and regulates glucagon and insulin ratios. These extracts regulate hepatic glucose regulating enzymes. Overall these extracts normalize blood glucose levels. It is important to note that a patient with type 2 diabetes cannot rely on these extracts to regulate the blood glucose levels, medications are necessary. (11)
Radish has anti-diabetic properties. It acts on the synthesis of adiponectin which is one of the factors in the regulation of lipids and glucose in the body. This is also responsible for fatty acid oxidation and mobilization from stored fatty acid deposits all over the body. (12) (13)
Alcoholic compounds present in turnips have analgesic properties when consumed in the correct dosage and time intervals. (14)
Turnip extract has antimicrobial properties against multiple pathogens like staphylococcus, bacillus, and vibrios. In addition to that, turnip extracts were tested against helicobacter pylori and have given beneficial results in the progress of treating helicobacter infections. (5)
Radish contains sulfur-containing compounds that have antimicrobial characteristics on multiple pathogenic bacterial species, like E Coli and pseudomonas species. (15)
Cardiopulmonary enhancing properties
Consumption of turnips has been shown to improve hemoglobin levels in the blood meaning that it increases overall oxygen levels. Consumption of turnips over 7 days increased MCHC (mean hemoglobin concentration) in the blood. This can be used in hypoxic patients and people who live in high altitudes where the oxygen pressure is lower. (16)
Flavonoids, anthocyanin, and sulfur-containing compounds have hepatoprotective roles. Turnip extracts reduce the level of liver enzymes and overall improve liver functioning and metabolism. (17)
On the other hand, radish bioactive compounds have protective properties towards liver tissues. The cytoprotective (cell protection) and antioxidant effects protect the liver. In addition to that, radish also decreases levels of total cholesterol and triglycerides which overall protects major organ systems including the liver. (18) (19)
Turnip extract improves kidney functioning and filtration, in addition to that, kidney and overall urinary tract inflammation reduction. (20)
Diets and weight loss
Turnip and radish are low in carbs and rich in fibers. On a calorie deficit diet or overall healthy lifestyle, it is important to include both during daily meals to maintain a healthy digestive tract and add textural complexity to everyday meals.
Radish and turnips can be eaten by people who are following vegan diets. They are also recommended to be consumed if that is not the case due to their overall health benefits and multiple usages.
Turnips are a good alternative replacement for potatoes in keto diets. Fried, boiled, mashed, roasted turnips are a low-carb alternative to potatoes. However, the mustardy flavor might be overpowering for people who don’t like mustardy flavors.
It is important to mention that although fried turnips can replace fried potatoes, however, if someone wants to follow a healthy lifestyle it is recommended to avoid eating fried foods. Meaning that fried turnips are not a healthy alternative to fried potatoes.
Radishes are also recommended to be consumed in the keto diet and can be a good alternative to potatoes. However, turnips are more versatile in cooking compared to radishes.
Turnips can interact with medications dedicated to high blood pressure by increasing their activity and causing severe hypotension. In moderation, turnips wouldn’t cause these overreactions, however, it is best to take advice from your doctor.
Radishes decrease blood sugar levels, if taken in high amounts in association with anti-diabetic drugs it might cause hypoglycemia. Meaning that it decreases sugar levels below the normal levels.
It is important to take into consideration turnip allergies. If it’s the first time someone is consuming turnips, it is advised to consume it in lower amounts the first 2 times in case that person is allergic to turnips.
Radish allergies also exist; however, it is rare.
Turnips can cause bloating and gas. It is best to boil, cook, or bake turnips before consuming them if bloating and gas cause discomfort.
Moderate consumption of radish doesn’t cause any discomfort, however, consuming radish in high amounts causes stomach irritation.
Radish consumption increases bile flow from the liver and gallbladder. In patients who suffer from gallstones, the flow might cause the stones to block the bile path and cause a painful gallbladder shock.
Turnips are richer in copper, vitamin C, and most B complex vitamins. On the other hand, radishes have a lower glycemic index, are lower in calories, and are cheaper. Radishes are also richer in folate compared to turnips. Turnips have a wider range of multisystem health benefits.
Vitamin and Mineral Summary Scores
Comparison summary table
|Lower in Saturated Fat|
|Lower in price|
|Lower in Sugar|
|Lower in Sodium|
|Lower in glycemic index|
|Lower in Cholesterol||Equal|
|Rich in minerals||Equal|
|Rich in vitamins||Equal|
Which food is preferable for your diet?
|Low Calories diet|
|Low Fats diet||Equal|
|Low Carbs diet|
|Low glycemic index diet|
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