Health Benefits of Eating Kohlrabi (Turnip Cabbage)
Also known as German turnip or turnip cabbage, kohlrabi is a tasty and versatile cabbage variety (crucifer) which is often listed under 'root vegetables' in guide books. However, the light green (sometimes purple) kohlrabi bulb you see chopped in soups and salads is actually the stem base of the kohlrabi plant, not its root. Like many other vegetables in the cabbage family, kohlrabi can be eaten raw or cooked. Regardless of how you decide to eat kohlrabi, this often-overlooked vegetable can offer a myriad of health benefits, even though it cannot quite beat the nutritional value of broccoli or the famous health benefits of kale. Here's a lowdown of the most important health benefits of kohlrabi:
Kohlrabi Has Even More Vitamin C Than Oranges!
Many people believe that navel oranges and other citrus fruits are the ultimate vitamin C champions. Well, guess what, raw turnip cabbage, or kohlrabi, contains even more vitamin C than fresh oranges! It also contains more vitamin C than red cabbage, a cruciferous vegetable that has become famous for its exceptionally high levels of vitamin C.
So how much vitamin C does kohlrabi provide then? According to USDA's Nutrition Facts data for kohlrabi, one ounce of this relatively unknown cruciferous vegetable provides a whopping 29 percent of the Daily Value (DV) for vitamin C. By contrast, an equal-sized serving of red cabbage or fresh oranges provides 27% or 25%, respectively, of the Daily Value for vitamin C.
But why are vitamin C rich foods, such as kohlrabi, so good for you? For one thing, vitamin C helps keep your immune system strong and healthy. Vitamin C can also help keep your skin supple and your bones strong due to its strong antioxidant properties and its ability to stimulate collagen production within your body.
Tip: If your goal is maximize kohlrabi's health benefits derived from its high vitamin C content, you'll want to eat your kohlrabi raw as cooking is known to destroy vitamin C. Also eating kohlrabi together with foods that contain vitamin E is a smart move as vitamin C and E are known to work synergistically.
Purple Kohlrabi Contains More Glucosinolates Than White Kohlrabi
A number of epidemiological studies have found a link between a high consumption of cruciferous vegetables and a reduced cancer risk. The purported anti-cancer effects of crucifers are believed to arise from the glucosinolates these vegetables contain. Laboratory studies show glucosinolates can be converted into isothiocyanates, biologically active substances that have been shown to inhibit cancer cell proliferation and to destroy carcinogens.
Interestingly, however, the glucosinolate content of cruciferous vegetables can vary significantly from one crucifer to another. In 2010, a group of Dutch researchers published a study in the journal Acta Horticulturae comparing the glucosinolate content of 11 Brassica oleracea crops, including two turnip cabbage cultivars (a purple kohlrabi variety known as 'Kolibri' and a white variety called 'Korist'). The purple kohlrabi variety was found to contain four times as much as glucosinolates as the white variety. However, compared with some other cruciferous vegetables, such as red and white cabbage or Brussels sprouts, the amount of glucosinolates in purple kohlrabi are still relatively low.
Tip: If you have no luck in finding purple kohlrabi at your local farmers' market, you can always grow your own if you have a garden. Purple turnip cabbage (kohlrabi) seeds are available from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk (in USDA organic quality), and they will yield delicious round black radishes in about 60 days after planting. The recommended planting time is early spring for a summer harvest, and late summer for fall and winter harvests.
The Weight Loss Benefits of Kohlrabi
Kohlrabi is undoubtedly one of the best vegetables for people who are looking to slim down. Kohlrabi is very low in calories (one ounce of raw kohlrabi weighs in at about 8 calories), and it contains practically no fat.
What's more, the high amounts of vitamin C in kohlrabi may enhance your body's fat burning capabilities during a workout. Researchers from Arizona State University found that people with low blood concentrations of vitamin C burned 25 percent less fat during a 60-minute walk on a treadmill, compared with those who had sufficient levels of vitamin C in their blood.
The potential fat-burning properties of vitamin C might be linked to its role in the production of carnitine, a substance that encourages your body to turn fat into fuel (energy), rather than store it as body fat.
Buying and Preparing Kohlrabi
When buying kohlrabi bulbs, select vegetables that are firm and solid. Opt for purple kohlrabi if you can as the purple-skinned variety has been shown to contain more glucosinolates than its white counterpart. (Note: Only the skin of the purple kohlrabi is purple; the flesh is creamy white).
When preparing kohlrabi for cooking, trim off the leaves and stems (but don't throw them away – fresh, healthy-looking kohlrabi stems and leafy tops are also edible and make a nice addition to stir-fries).
If the skin of the kohlrabi feels particularly thick, you can peel it off carefully with a sharp knife; otherwise, leave the skin on. Next, dice or slice the kohlrabi and use it in to add taste and texture to vegetable soups. Or, cut it into bite-sized pieces and eat it raw with your favorite dip. If you like to add some mild cabbage-like flavor to your salads, you can also grate raw kohlrabi and add it to your salad mix.
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