There are a few different names around the world for this fantastic vegetable (such as the swede or neep), but it’s most commonly known as the rutabaga. Many people get a rutabaga confused with turnips or certain types of cabbage since they look so similar. It’s a common mistake, as the rutabaga is actually a vegetable that was created when turnips and cabbage crossed over.
Animals enjoy eating rutabagas, humans enjoy them, and there are several different ways to eat rutabagas. You probably won’t find too many people that eat raw rutabagas, but it can certainly be done and brings even more health benefits. As long as you’re preparing rutabagas in a healthy way (and not joining them up with fried unhealthy foods), the amount of benefits that you get from rutabagas is tremendous. Let’s take a closer look at the nutritional value of rutabagas, and some of those proven health benefits.
Nutrition of Rutabaga
Each cup of raw rutabaga isn’t going to add too many calories to your diet, bringing just 50 per serving. That same serving has a little bit of the protein that your body needs, as well as 14 percent of your daily recommendation for dietary fiber. Out of the vitamin selection, vitamin C really stands out as you’re getting more than 50 percent of your daily needs. Other vitamins that are in lower amounts (around five to 10 percent daily value) include vitamin E, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6 and folate.
Rutabagas are a good source of both potassium and manganese with more than 10 percent daily value. Calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc and copper aren’t quite as high, but there is still a significant amount that can help your body. Rutabagas also contain very little fat, no cholesterol and nearly 75 mg of helpful omega-3 fatty acids.
Keep the Doctor Away
The nutrient that we pointed out as being the most abundant within rutabaga is vitamin C. With more than half of your daily recommendation, you’re getting a huge boost that you might not be getting otherwise. One of the nice things about vitamin C is that you can’t take too much like you can with other vitamins. When your body has an overdose of vitamin C, you’ll simply expel what you don’t need. Everything that’s kept gets put to work, too.
The first big boost from vitamin C is in your immune system. Your body develops an efficient way of fighting off a lot of different problems. From infections that can enter the skin to illnesses, you’ll be producing more white blood cells. For those that frequently get the common cold or flu, getting more vitamin C in your diet is one of the best ways to prevent these problems. The high antioxidant content in rutabagas also fight off free radicals that can damage the DNA in your cells, which causes cancer and other chronic illnesses.
The same free radicals that can cause severe damage to your body can also deteriorate your exterior appearance. When your skin cells are attacked by free radicals, you’re much more likely to have dull skin with more wrinkles and other signs of aging, no matter what age you are. The vitamins in rutabagas will clear out these problems, giving you a much smoother, glowing and overall younger looking complexion that also applies to your hair and scalp.
Another aspect where you can look your best because of rutabagas is in the weight department. Rutabagas are fairly low in calories at only 50 per cup, making it a good go-to snack instead of junk food. On top of saving yourself a few hundred calories per day by making that switch, rutabagas also have enough fiber that will allow you to feel more full throughout the day. After eating enough fiber, you want even want to eat processed junk foods that are fried or high in sugar.
Fiber is great at helping you feel full, but it can also give you a metabolism boost by allowing the digestive system to operate more efficiently. While rutabagas aren’t packed with fiber like certain foods, getting about 15 percent of your daily needs might actually be a huge step up for people that haven’t been getting any fiber at all. If you suffer from frequent digestive problems such as constipation or diarrhea, there’s a good chance that you’re not getting enough fiber.
Fiber creates more probiotics in your gut, which is helpful bacteria that gets rid of the harmful kind. Not only will you feel more energetic throughout the day thanks to fiber, but you’re preventing certain types of cancers in the digestive system. Within just a few days, you’ll feel the effects of getting more fiber, and you’re going to love it.
Fiber has another benefit, as well, which is that it helps to regulate your blood sugar. That makes rutabaga an ideal food for those with diabetes, or if you just want to manage your blood sugar levels to avoid crashes and spikes. Having controlled blood sugar has a huge benefit for your overall heart health, as you’re much less likely to suffer from heart disease, heart attack or stroke.
Another nutrient in rutabagas that really helps your heart health is potassium. When you get enough potassium in your diet, you’re controlling the heart’s rhythm by aiding muscle contraction. Since rutabagas are incredibly low in sodium, fat and saturated fat, you won’t be doing any damage to your heart. Those who get enough rutabagas are much more likely to have healthier cholesterol levels, as well as blood pressure levels.
Even though the minerals in rutabagas aren’t overly abundant, many people that eat diets high in processed foods might not be getting any at all. With minerals in rutabagas such as manganese, phosphorus and more, your bones will see a boost in density and overall strength. Even getting just a small amount of these minerals per day reduces your chances of osteoporosis as you age. Of course, you’ll want to make sure you’re hitting the daily recommendation through other foods and supplements, but rutabagas make for a solid base.
Summing it Up
Rutabaga is one of those tremendously healthy foods that fortunately doesn’t come with much downside at all. There might be some people that are allergic to foods that fall into certain categories, but allergies to vegetables like rutabaga is pretty rare. The one thing that you have to look out for more than anything is how rutabaga affects your digestive system.
Though there won’t be any actual damage done to your digestion, you could see a temporary increase in gas. This is true for a lot of different fruits and vegetables, and shouldn’t raise any concern. Most of the time, excess gas happens because of certain sugars that release undigested carbohydrates. As your body adjusts to getting more fiber, you shouldn’t see any side effects after a few days. That’s when you know you’re on track to getting healthier, and eating rutabaga is a great part of a healthy overall diet!