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Turnip vs Radish - Health impact and Nutrition Comparison

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Turnip
vs
Radish

Introduction

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. 

Seasonal availability

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.

Recipes

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.

Price

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

Calories

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. 

Glycemic index

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.

Carbs

Turnips contain more carbs than radish. Turnips contain 2 times more carbs compared to radish.

Fiber

Turnips and radishes have similar amounts of fiber. 

Fat and protein

Turnips and radishes have negligible amounts of fats and proteins.

Vitamins

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. 

Minerals

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.

Health impacts

Cancer

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)

Antioxidant

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)

Anti Inflammatory 

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)

Cardioprotective

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)

Analgesic properties

Alcoholic compounds present in turnips have analgesic properties when consumed in the correct dosage and time intervals. (14)

Antimicrobial properties

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)

Hepatoprotective properties

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)

Nephroprotective properties

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. 

Vegan

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.

Keto

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.

Downsides

Drug interaction

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.

Allergies

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.

General Highlights

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.

Summary

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.

References

  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9751619/
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17616135/
  3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24510468/
  4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10956123/
  5. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Amira-Beltagy/publication/287409006
  6. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17935293/
  7. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21434881/
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5383142/
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5986475/
  10. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20132043/
  11. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17996336/
  12. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25685286/
  13. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16936205/
  14. https://hms.gmu.ac.ir/article-1-1713-en.html
  15. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5066007/
  16. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27856303/
  17. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17420605/
  18. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23434765/
  19. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/13987499/
  20. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22069563/
Article author photo Jack  Yacoubian
Profession: Haigazian Medical University
Last updated: July 9, 2021

Infographic

Turnip vs Radish infographic
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Mineral Comparison

Mineral comparison score is based on the number of minerals by which one or the other food is richer. The "coverage" chart below show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food
Turnip
4
:
4
Radish
Contains more Calcium +20%
Contains more Copper +70%
Contains more Phosphorus +35%
Contains more Iron +13.3%
Contains more Potassium +22%
Contains less Sodium -41.8%
Equal in Magnesium - 10
Equal in Zinc - 0.28
Iron Calcium Potassium Magnesium Copper Zinc Phosphorus Sodium 12% 9% 17% 8% 29% 8% 12% 9%
Iron Calcium Potassium Magnesium Copper Zinc Phosphorus Sodium 13% 8% 21% 8% 17% 8% 9% 6%
Contains more Calcium +20%
Contains more Copper +70%
Contains more Phosphorus +35%
Contains more Iron +13.3%
Contains more Potassium +22%
Contains less Sodium -41.8%
Equal in Magnesium - 10
Equal in Zinc - 0.28

Vitamin Comparison

Vitamin comparison score is based on the number of vitamins by which one or the other food is richer. The "coverage" chart below show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food
Turnip
6
:
4
Radish
Contains more Vitamin C +41.9%
Contains more Vitamin E +∞%
Contains more Vitamin B1 +233.3%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +57.5%
Contains more Vitamin B5 +21.2%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +26.8%
Contains more Vitamin A +∞%
Contains more Vitamin B2 +30%
Contains more Vitamin K +1200%
Contains more Folate +66.7%
Vitamin C Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Vitamin B12 Vitamin K Folate 70% 0% 1% 0% 10% 7% 8% 12% 21% 0% 1% 12%
Vitamin C Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Vitamin B12 Vitamin K Folate 50% 1% 0% 0% 3% 9% 5% 10% 17% 0% 4% 19%
Contains more Vitamin C +41.9%
Contains more Vitamin E +∞%
Contains more Vitamin B1 +233.3%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +57.5%
Contains more Vitamin B5 +21.2%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +26.8%
Contains more Vitamin A +∞%
Contains more Vitamin B2 +30%
Contains more Vitamin K +1200%
Contains more Folate +66.7%

Vitamin and Mineral Summary Scores

The summary score is calculated by summing up the daily values contained in 300 grams of the product. Obviously the more the food fulfills human daily needs, the more the summary score is.
Vitamin Summary Score
12
Turnip
10
Radish
Mineral Summary Score
13
Turnip
11
Radish

Macronutrients Comparison

Macronutrient comparison charts compare the amount of protein, total fats, and total carbohydrates in 300 grams of the food. The displayed values show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of food.
Protein
5%
Turnip
4%
Radish
Carbohydrates
6%
Turnip
3%
Radish
Fats
0%
Turnip
0%
Radish

Comparison summary table

Pay attention to the most right column. It shows the amounts side by side, making it easier to realize the amount of difference.
Turnip Radish
Lower in Saturated Fat ok
Lower in price ok
Lower in Sugar ok
Lower in Sodium ok
Lower in glycemic index ok
Lower in Cholesterol Equal
Rich in minerals Equal
Rich in vitamins Equal

Which food is preferable for your diet?

ok
ok
is better in case of low diet
Turnip Radish
Low Calories diet ok
Low Fats diet Equal
Low Carbs diet ok
Low glycemic index diet ok

People also compare

Comparison summary

Which food is lower in Saturated Fat?
Turnip
Turnip is lower in Saturated Fat (difference - 0.021g)
Which food is cheaper?
Turnip
Turnip is cheaper (difference - $0.3)
Which food is lower in Sugar?
Radish
Radish is lower in Sugar (difference - 1.94g)
Which food contains less Sodium?
Radish
Radish contains less Sodium (difference - 28mg)
Which food is lower in glycemic index?
Radish
Radish is lower in glycemic index (difference - 41)
Which food contains less Cholesterol?
?
The foods are relatively equal in Cholesterol (0 mg)
Which food is richer in minerals?
?
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.
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.

All nutrients comparison - raw data values

Nutrient Turnip Radish Opinion
Calories 28 16 Turnip
Protein 0.9 0.68 Turnip
Fats 0.1 0.1
Vitamin C 21 14.8 Turnip
Carbs 6.43 3.4 Turnip
Cholesterol 0 0
Vitamin D 0 0
Iron 0.3 0.34 Radish
Calcium 30 25 Turnip
Potassium 191 233 Radish
Magnesium 11 10 Turnip
Sugar 3.8 1.86 Radish
Fiber 1.8 1.6 Turnip
Copper 0.085 0.05 Turnip
Zinc 0.27 0.28 Radish
Starch 0 Radish
Phosphorus 27 20 Turnip
Sodium 67 39 Radish
Vitamin A 0 7 Radish
Vitamin E 0.03 0 Turnip
Vitamin D 0 0
Vitamin B1 0.04 0.012 Turnip
Vitamin B2 0.03 0.039 Radish
Vitamin B3 0.4 0.254 Turnip
Vitamin B5 0.2 0.165 Turnip
Vitamin B6 0.09 0.071 Turnip
Vitamin B12 0 0
Vitamin K 0.1 1.3 Radish
Folate 15 25 Radish
Trans Fat 0 0
Saturated Fat 0.011 0.032 Turnip
Monounsaturated Fat 0.006 0.017 Radish
Polyunsaturated fat 0.053 0.048 Turnip
Tryptophan 0.009 0.009
Threonine 0.025 0.023 Turnip
Isoleucine 0.036 0.02 Turnip
Leucine 0.033 0.031 Turnip
Lysine 0.036 0.033 Turnip
Methionine 0.011 0.01 Turnip
Phenylalanine 0.017 0.036 Radish
Valine 0.03 0.035 Radish
Histidine 0.014 0.013 Turnip
Fructose 0.71 Radish

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. Radish - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/169276/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.