The Mysterious Rutabaga—Why You Should Eat It

Dr. Lindsey Mcilvena, MD

In her day job, treating patients living with chronic disease, nutrition and lifestyle are not after-thoughts, they’re central to helping her patients get well. She’s also our go-to expert on plant-based diets.

When was the last time you sank your teeth into a deliciously roasted rutabaga?

Been awhile? What? Never tried one? It’s time to get back to this root veggie, and here’s why.

Rutabagas are a member of the brassica or cruciferous vegetable family—kind of like a cross between a turnip and a cabbage. It’s a cousin to all those other SuperFood giants—bok choy, broccoli, cauliflower. Just like the other brassica members, rutabaga contains indole-3-carbinols, plant compounds that show much promise in preventing numerous chronic diseases including cancer.

In addition, the more familiar vitamins, minerals, and macronutrients are not scant within this white root of a vegetable. One cup of cooked rutabaga has 2 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber –not bad! That same cup also contains very little fat and few calories, making it a healthy choice. That amount of rutabaga also contains nearly half of the recommended daily vitamin C, and over 10% of your daily magnesium, potassium, and phosphorous, as well as 8% of your daily calcium. There are also smaller amounts of selenium, zinc, vitamin K, vitamin E, folate, and niacin, and copper.

So how should you incorporate rutabaga into your cooking repertoire?  The traditional Swedish way calls for boiling and mashing it, as you would potatoes. You can also cube it and roast it, or throw chopped rutabaga in a soup or stew. You can also noodle it, or shred it for salads. If you want to get really creative, try making a healthier version of French fries.

Try giving this often overlooked veggie a chance, you won’t be disappointed.

Rutabaga Nutrition Source: USDA

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