rutabaga vs turnip

Rutabaga vs Turnip – What Are The Differences?

The name rutabaga may not seem familiar to you, but turnip is probably something you have at home or at least know about. Some people think of these two vegetables as twins, but they are not. Instead of living in the dark about their difference, it is time you knew what makes them unique on their own.   

Let’s dive into what rutabaga and turnip are and why one or the other is best for you! 

What Is Rutabaga?

Rutabaga

Rutabaga, also known as swede, is a root vegetable that is somewhat sweet and very nutritious. Some people call it a hybrid between a turnip and wild cabbage, but it looks very similar to a turnip except much bigger. This root is originally from Europe, particularly the regions of Switzerland, Russia, the United Kingdom, and Finland. 

This root is very low in calories, which makes it a safe bet for many people. Rutabaga is also high in fiber, vitamin C, and other vitamins and minerals. Some people cook it the same as you would potatoes, while others like to saute it in butter or oil. 

Rutabaga is also a staple in Ireland, Scotland, and England, where people use it to make lanterns and masks during Halloween. 

In some regions, this root may also be food for livestock and other animals. While not too common everywhere, rutabaga is becoming more popular in Canada and the United States thanks to its healthy caloric content.  

Nutrition Facts

A 100 g serving of rutabaga has the following nutritional content (*): 

  • 37 calories
  • 89.4 g water 
  • 1.08 g protein
  • 0.16 g fat
  • 8.62 g carbohydrate
  • 2.3 g fiber 
  • 12 mg sodium 
  • 43 mg calcium
  • 0.44 mg iron
  • 20 mg magnesium 
  • 53 mg phosphorus 
  • 305 mg potassium 
  • 25 mg vitamin C
  • 14.1 mg choline

Is Rutabaga Good For You?

Rutabaga is a great food to include in your diet. On one hand, it is lower in calories and carbohydrates than most root vegetables. On the other hand, it contains a good amount of vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

Finding rutabaga may not be an easy task in some areas of the world, but if you do find it, prepare it just like you would potatoes. 

By boiling this root, you retain all the nutrients and avoid adding extra fat to your food. After boiling, you can add seasoning, or you can saute it using a healthy fat, such as olive oil. 

Rutabaga contains high amounts of potassium, which is an essential mineral for our hearts to function correctly. This root vegetable also contains sodium, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus as well as vitamin E, C, and choline. Eating this root helps you get a high amount of your daily value for essential nutrients. 

Since this vegetable also gives you fiber, it can help keep you full and prevents overeating. Also, eating fiber is a great way to lower blood cholesterol, lower blood sugar levels, and improve digestion. If you want food that is healthy and fulfilling, rutabaga may be the right choice. 

Finally, thanks to its vitamin C content, and other antioxidants, rutabaga can be an immune-supporting food. 

Eating this root often can help your body stay strong and fight off pathogens, including bacteria and viruses. Be sure to pair it with other healthy vegetables and lean meats for better results. 

The bottom line is that rutabaga is very healthy and nutritious. However, prepare it using cooking methods that retain the nutrients, such as boiling, parboiling, or lightly sauteing. Remember to use healthy fats when you cook this root to preserve its nutritional value. 

What Is A Turnip?

turnip

Also called white turnip, this root vegetable typically grows in temperate climates. This root belongs to the Brassica family that also contains cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, and broccoli. Although white, it may also have a bit of purple, especially in the tip.

Some of the confusion with turnip stems from the fact that Europeans may call rutabaga turnips, but these two are not the same root. Turnips are fall and winter vegetables, growing from around October through March. Turnip is spicy when raw, but once cooked it turns sweet and nutty.

When you cook turnips, they become velvety and soft. Like rutabaga, turnips are a great source of various vitamins and minerals. As with their look alike, this root is low in calories and contains fiber. 

Nutrition Facts

A 100 g serving of turnips has the following nutritional content (*):

  • 28 calories
  • 91.87g water 
  • 0.9 g protein
  • 0.1 g fat
  • 6.43 g carbohydrates
  • 1.8 g fiber
  • 67 mg sodium
  • 30 mg calcium
  • 0.3 mg iron
  • 11 mg magnesium 
  • 27 mg phosphorus 
  • 191 mg potassium 
  • 21 mg vitamin C
  • 11.1 mg choline

Is Turnip Good For You?

Like rutabaga, the turnip is a great root vegetable to include in your daily diet. Turnips contain very few calories and relatively high fiber. You will also obtain a good amount of vitamins and minerals from this root vegetable. 

Turnips are not good raw since they are very hard and have a strong peppery flavor. For the most part, the best way to cook turnips is to boil them, but they can be baked, fried, or pickled. To retain the most nutrients, parboiling and boiling may be the best choice. 

This root vegetable is a good source of fiber, which makes it a great food to eat if you are trying to stay full for a while. This same fiber is beneficial when you want to keep blood glucose levels down, reduce blood cholesterol levels, and maintain a healthy gut. 

Eating turnips every week is a great way to promote a healthy microbiota that keeps your GI tract working efficiently. 

A serving of turnips will give you some potassium, calcium, vitamin C, and choline. All of these are important micronutrients for our bodies to work well. The amount of potassium in this food is higher than other vegetables and fruits out there. 

Similar to rutabaga, eating turnips can help you fight off infection and disease thanks to the vitamin C and vitamin E content. Paired with other fruits and vegetables high in antioxidants, you can boost your immunity by eating turnips constantly. Make sure to consume them weekly for a better chance at staying healthy. 

As with other root vegetables, turnips can lose nutrients when cooked with saturated fats and at high temperatures. For best results, be sure to pair your turnips with a healthy fat like olive oil, or better yet, boil them. You can get equally tasty results by using more seasoning without ruining your nutritious food. 

What Are The Key Differences Between Rutabaga and Turnip?

Rutabagas and turnips differ in their size, primarily because rutabagas are harvested when they are large. Oppositely, turnips are harvested when they are still small. Some rutabagas can be twice the size of turnips. 

Another key difference is the color of each of these roots. Turnips are white and have some purple spots, particularly at the top or bottom. Rutabagas are yellow or brown, or a mix of purple with brown. 

When it comes to flavor, these two roots do not taste the same. Rutabagas are very sweet, which is why they are often used in sweet and savory dishes. Turnips have a distinct sharp and almost spicy flavor.

Even though they are both cooked in the same way, the effect of cooking on each of these roots changes too. Rutabagas change color to a very deep and shiny gold color once cooked. Turnips remain white no matter the style of cooking used. 

When it comes to growing and harvesting, these roots differ as well. Rutabaga should remain in the ground until at least October or November, so it can grow entirely and retains its flavor. 

Turnips can begin to be harvested as soon as they are two to three inches wide, which means that they grow in more of a cyclical manner.

Main DifferencesRutabagaTurnip
Origin Russia and Northern EuropeAsia
ShapeBig, round shapeGlobe and oblong shape
ColorBrown, yellow, or deep purple and brownWhite and purple
Cuisines Scandinavian, Russian, and BritishAsian and European
Taste Very sweet and slightly nuttyVery sharp and peppery
How To CookCan be cooked by boiling, parboiling, sauteing, frying, and bakingCan be cooked by boiling, parboiling, sauteing, frying, and baking
Cooking TimeCook time: 15 minutesCook time: 25 to 30 minutes
Calories per 100 gram serving37 calories28 calories

Is Rutabaga or Turnip Healthier?

Both of these roots are very healthy and low in calories. Using one or the other depends fully on availability and taste. Turnips tend to be lower in calories, but they also contain fewer micronutrients due to their small size. 

When it comes to fiber content, rutabagas have a bit more fiber, but it is probably due to their larger size. Turnips have a good amount of fiber as well, but they are smaller, so you would need to eat more to get the same amount of fiber. 

In terms of vitamins and minerals, these two roots share the same, but as with the other nutrient content, rutabagas have more. You can eat rutabagas and get a higher amount of all vitamins and minerals. However, turnips are a good second choice if you can’t find the other root. 

If you want to get the most benefits of eating either of these roots, make sure you prepare them using healthy cooking methods. Both rutabaga and turnips can be boiled or parboiled, like potatoes, and retain their nutrient content. 

For a more filling meal, use rutabaga, but if turnips are more readily available, they will do the job too. 


Conclusion

Do not be confused ever again when at the grocery store or your local farmer’s market. Try using both rutabaga and turnips for delicious and nutritious dishes. If you are still not sure which one to go with, give each a taste, and pick your favorite. 

turnip vs rutabaga
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