Rutabaga facts and health benefits

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Rutabaga facts and health benefits

Rutabaga Quick Facts
Name: Rutabaga
Scientific Name: Brassica napus var. napobrassica
Origin Europe
Colors Purple, white or yellow or greenish tinged
Shapes Lumpy tops with a slightly irregular shape that are 3-5 inches in diameter.
Flesh colors Yellowish
Taste Mild peppery, sweet taste
Calories 52 Kcal./cup
Major nutrients Vitamin C (38.89%)
Vitamin B6 (10.77%)
Phosphorus (10.57%)
Vitamin B1 (10.50%)
Carbohydrate (9.28%)
Health benefits Helps Prevent Cancer, Diabetes and Weight Loss, Metabolic Function, Improves Digestion , Strong Bones, Rich in Potassium, Enzymatic Function, Boosts the Immune System, Blood Pressure and Cardiovascular Health, Can Improve Your Mood
More facts about Rutabaga
Rutabaga (Brassica napus L.; Napobrassica group), also referred to as swedes, Swedish turnips, and turnip-rooted cabbage, is a member of the Cruciferae. The word “Rutabaga” comes from the Swedish “rotabagge,” which means root ram, baggy root, thick root and ram’s foot. Rutabagas are only called rutabagas in the U.S. throughout the rest of the world, they’re known as swedes. This root vegetable is supposed to have originated in Bohemia in the 17th century as a hybrid between the turnip and wild cabbage. Not to be confused with its relative the turnip; rutabagas are actually larger, denser and higher in many essential nutrients. American Purple Top Rutabaga, Joan Rutabaga, Laurentian Rutabaga, Marian Rutabaga, Heirloom and Gourmet Rutabaga are some of the popular varieties of Rutabaga.


The rutabaga, a biennial plant (grown as an annual) that produces seeds during the second year of growth, belongs to the cabbage family and has similar foliage and suffers from the same pests and diseases as cabbages. They are believed to be a cross between a cabbage and a turnip. It is a biennial, glabrous, glaucous herb sized 30–150 cm tall and is a cool-season vegetable that withstands frost and mild freezing. It thrives best in a moderately deep, well-drained, fertile and slightly acid sandy loams, loams and clay loams which are well supplied with organic matter. It has a well-defined central taproot and minimal secondary roots and erect, branched stem. Leaves are smooth, waxy that are thick like cabbage and are medium green to blue-green in color. It has small and light-yellow petals, broadly obovate, apex rounded; claw distinct 5–9 mm. Fruits are linear, 4–11 cm × 2.5–5 mm, terete or slightly 4 angled, sessile, divaricate or ascending which features dark brown or blackish, globose, 1–2 mm to 3 mm across, minutely reticulate seeds.


Rutabaga, a close cousin of the turnip, is a member of the cruciferous vegetable family and is cool-season vegetable that withstands frost and mild freezing. It is a well-shaped, purple-topped root having a smooth, small neck and a well-defined taproot with a minimum of side roots. It is free of blemishes and bruises. The root should be firm, fresh looking, sweet and not bitter, and heavy for its size. Lightweight rutabagas may be “woody”. Normally Rutabagas are fleshy, napiform or globose root that have lumpy tops with a slightly irregular shape that are 3-5 inches in diameter. It is purple, white or yellow or greenish tinged colored. Skins are usually thin pale yellow and have yellowish flesh. The rutabaga has a nutty and sweet mild turnip-like flavor and mild peppery, sweet taste that is similar to both cabbage and turnip. It is nutritious, inexpensive and easy to prepare vegetable so it is a great staple for any family or student diet.


Brassica napus also referred to as Rutabagas is native to Europe but not known in the wild; it possibly evolved during sixteenth century as an allotetraploid derived from wild cabbage Brassica oleracea and turnip Brassica rapa. Two varieties of Brassica napus are recognized: var. napus and var. napobrassica (rutabaga or swede). Rutabagas are grown for human and animal consumption. Rutabagas have been introduced to North America, North Asia and elsewhere including Australia and New Zealand. It is cultivated rarely in the highlands in Southeast Asia. Today the rutabaga is grown in the states of Washington and Oregon. It is a major export of Canada, where it is called the Canadian Turnip.

Nutritional Value

Apart from their mild peppery, sweet taste Rutabaga is a good source of nutrients, vitamins and minerals. Consuming 140 gram of rutabagas offers 35 mg of Vitamin C, 0.14 mg of Vitamin B6, 74 mg of Phosphorus, 0.126 mg of Vitamin B1, 12.07 g of Carbohydrate, 427 mg of Potassium and 3.2 g of Total dietary Fiber.

Health benefits of Rutabaga

Rutabagas are a nutritious, inexpensive and easy to prepare veggie that are great staple for any family or student diet. It provides health benefits because of their important nutrient content. Listed here are some health advantages of rutabaga:

1. Helps Prevent Cancer

Rutabagas consist of higher amount of antioxidant compounds that are potential natural cancer treatment. Glucosinolates are sulfur-containing compounds that have been shown to reduce the growth of cancer. Several researches have proven that brassica vegetables are protective against cancers of the lungs and alimentary tract.

Risk of developing cancer increases with age; however it may occur at any age. High fat diet is one of the most common reasons for developing prostate cancer whereas cruciferous vegetables like rutabaga, cabbage, kohlrabi, Brussels sprouts, watercress and mustard greens are the best options for reducing the risk of prostate cancer.(1)

2. Diabetes and Weight Loss

However rutabagas plays role of potatoes in several food items, they don’t have much carbohydrates, which break down into simple sugars, possibly wreaking havoc on glucose and insulin levels in the body. Therefore, rutabagas are often turned to as an alternative to potatoes for diabetic patients and those who want to cut back on the carbs. The vegetable essentially help to prevent the onset of Type 2 diabetes. While there are just about 20% less carbohydrates in equal portions of rutabagas than in potatoes, the additional nutritional value makes rutabagas a much wiser and more delicious choice!(2)

3. Metabolic Function

Rutabagas are one of the great options for many vegetarians, as it provides a complete protein, something that most vegetarians struggle to acquire when they don’t consume meat. Proteins and amino acids are actually the building blocks of new cells and are essential to encourage proper development, growth, healing, reproduction, muscle contraction, and dozens of other important bodily processes.(3)

4. Improves Digestion

Just like other cruciferous vegetables, rutabagas are naturally very high in fiber. One cup rutabaga has over 8.42% of your daily fiber requirement, making it one of the most dense high-fiber foods.  Dietary fiber improves digestion by bulking up the stool and encouraging elimination, so rutabagas can provide natural constipation relief. Research in the World Journal of Gastroenterology showed that dietary fiber intake can obviously increase stool frequency in patients with constipation.

Several researches suggest that getting more fiber in your diet may play a role in the treatment of conditions such as gastrointestinal disease, stroke, hemorrhoids, high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease and some forms of cancer. Rutabaga’s powerful punch of dietary fiber makes it a smart choice for your overall well-being.(4), (5)

5. Strong Bones

Rutabagas are the storeroom of several important minerals, like zinc, calcium, magnesium, manganese, and phosphorous, all of which play an important role in creation and maintenance of bone tissue. Osteoporosis affects millions of people around the world, and keeping your bones healthy and strong as you get older will help to avoid this common age-related disorder.(6)

6. Rich in Potassium

Rutabaga is a common root vegetable that are good sources of potassium. Potassium is an important mineral for the proper function of all cells, tissues and organs in the human body. It’s also an electrolyte, a substance that conducts electricity in the body, along with sodium, chloride, calcium and magnesium.

For proper functioning of the heart, potassium is crucial and plays a key role in skeletal and smooth muscle contraction, making it important for normal digestive and muscular function. People who consume potassium in their diets have a lower risk of stroke, especially ischemic stroke. Rutabagas consist of 427 mg of potassium which is 9.09% of the daily recommended value.(7)

7. Enzymatic Function

Zinc present in rutabaga is a key component of many enzymatic functions throughout the body, without which our bodily processes become inefficient, resulting in more dangerous health concerns. The moderate amounts of zinc found in rutabagas are highly praised for this reason. Rutabagas consist of 0.34 mg of zinc which is 3.09% of the daily recommended value and is normally recommended to include it in your regular diet.(8)

8. Boosts the Immune System

Rutabagas consist of considerable amount of Vitamin C which is extremely important for many bodily processes, like stimulation of the immune system to produce white blood cells, which fight against bacteria and infection. Vitamin c helps to improve the outcome of pneumonia, malaria and diarrhea infections. Overall, vitamin C plays an important role in immune function and the modulation of resistance to infectious agents, reducing the risk, severity and duration of infectious diseases.

By increasing your intake of rutabagas, you can improve your vitamin C levels — so make sure they’re part of your vegetable arsenal when cold and flu season comes around!(9)

9. Blood Pressure and Cardiovascular Health

Rutabaga consists of impressive amount of potassium which helps to lower blood pressure by reducing the stress and contraction of blood vessels. This allows for easier passage of blood, increased oxygenation to vital organs and systems, and a lower chance of clotting. Combine potassium with the fiber content in rutabagas, which helps to reduce cholesterol levels, and you have a reliable way to prevent atherosclerosis, effectively lowering your risk of heart attacks and strokes.(10)

10. Can Improve Your Mood

Rutabagas consists of impressive amount of  vitamin B6 which is involved in hormone production in the brain, it’s supposed to be effective in treating mood disorders and certain brain diseases that can develop as a result of deficiencies in neurotransmitter function. Research suggests that patients taking vitamin B6 supplements can help to lift their mood, to experience less pain, and to avoid having a lack of energy and concentration, too.(11)

Other benefits

  • Rutabaga additionally helps prevent spot baldness (alopecia).
  • It relieves the premenstrual syndrome (pms).
  • The chance of type 2 diabetes is reduced by consuming it.
  • It safeguards from heart diseases as well as brittle bones.
  • Rutabaga repairs as well as safeguards DNA.
  • Rutabaga raises endurance, milk manufacturing as well as digestion.
  • Frequencies of migraines may also be decreased by rutabaga.
  • Regular usage of rutabaga helps prevent stroke as well as epileptic seizures.
  • Due to the high-content of fiber, rutabaga manages blood levels of cholesterol.

How to Eat

  • Edible tuberous root is eaten raw or cooked.
  • Rutabaga is boiled, baked, roasted, used as a flavor enhancer for soups and roasted served with meat dishes as the main ingredient in the popular Christmas dish swede casserole ‘lanttulaatikko’ in Finland.
  • Uncooked, rutabaga is thinly julienned as a side dish or used in a salad.
  • Rutabaga is cooked and mashed with potatoes, carrots with butter, cream or milk to produce a puree called kålrot or rotmos, in Sweden and Norway.
  • Kålrot is an essential accompaniment to many festive dishes including salted herring, smalahove and pinnekjøtt in Norway.
  • Scots boil and mash rutabagas and potatoes separately to produce ‘tatties and neeps’ served traditionally with the Scottish national dish of ‘haggis’.
  • Neeps are also mashed with potatoes to make ‘clapshot’, a traditional Scottish dish, and used in soups and stews.
  • Rutabagas are mashed with carrots and eaten as accompaniment to the traditional Sunday roast in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire.
  • Canadians used rutabagas as filler in foods such as mincemeat and Christmas cake or as a side dish with Sunday dinner.
  • Americans consumed rutabagas mainly in stews and casseroles and served mashed with potatoes or baked in a pasty.
  • Rutabaga is traditionally served boiled, mashed and a smoked worst (sausage) served alongside in Netherlands.
  • Swede is boiled together with carrots and served either mashed or pureed with butter and ground pepper in England.
  • Rutabaga is used in casseroles, stews and soups as a flavor enhancer in Australia.
  • Leaves are edible and can be prepared in similar fashion to mustard greens or Swiss chard.

Other Facts

  • Brassica napus is one of the most important sources of seed vegetable oil.
  • Seed oil is used in the manufacture of lubricants, grease, lacquers, varnishes, soap, resins, nylon, plastics, insect repellents, stabilizers and pharmaceuticals.
  • Rutabagas with yellow flesh, which have a bitter taste, are usually used for human nutrition, while those with whitish flesh are used as fodder crop.
  • Rutabaga is also used as forage for livestock.


  • Rutabaga is a cruciferous vegetable; it contains raffinose, which is a complex sugar that can sometimes cause abdominal discomfort, bloating and flatulence.
  • If you are allergic to turnips, cabbage, spinach or any other cruciferous vegetables, consult a physician before adding rutabaga to your diet.

Buying & Storing Facts

While purchasing rutabagas, choose the ones which are yellow to tan colored and also have a smooth, blemish-free skin without any indications of wrinkling or even shriveling.

For cleaning rutabagas, wash them first as well as peel off if the skin is thicker or even wax covered.

Rutabagas could be maintained to one week, whenever kept in the refrigerator in the plastic material bag.

Different methods of preparing Rutabaga

Rutabagas can be consumed raw or cooked. Since they are waxed, they must be peeled. Rutabagas can be baked, roasted, boiled, braised, steamed, stir-fried, or microwaved. Cook them with potatoes and mash together. Quarter them and roast along with potatoes. Enhance the flavor of stews with chopped or quartered rutabagas. Dice them and add them to soups.


Peel them using vegetable peeler and enjoy as a snack. Chop, dice, or grate them into salads. Grate them into coleslaw or carrot salad.


Cut peeled rutabagas into 1/4-inch slices. Place them in a baking dish and sprinkle liberally with water. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees F. for 20 to 30 minutes or until tender.


Quarter rutabagas, brush using vegetable oil, and roast about 1 hour, or until tender.


Place whole rutabaga in boiling water and cook till tender, about 25 to 35 minutes. For sliced rutabagas cook 7 to 10 minutes.


Place sliced or cubed rutabaga in a saucepan. Add vegetable broth to cover the bottom of the pan by 1/2 inch. Cover and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.


Whole or cut rutabaga can be steamed over boiling water for 25 to 35 minutes.


Thinly slice rutabaga and fry till crisp and tender, about 6 to 7 minutes. Stir-fry with onions.


Cube rutabaga and place in a microwaveable baking dish. Add 3 tablespoons of liquid. Cover and cook until tender, about 7 to 9 minutes. Remove and let stand 3 minutes before serving.


Cut rutabagas into strips or slices and blanch for 2 minutes in boiling water before freezing. Rutabagas can be cooked and/or pureed before freezing.






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