Turnip Greens (Brassica rapa) belong to the plant family Cruciferae and the genus Brassica. Resembling the mild bitter flavor of its close relatives, collards, the vegetable is known far and wide, for its high nutrition levels and beneficial effects on human health. The most popular varieties of the vegetable are all-top, topper, seven-top and shogoin. Among these, the former two are hybrid and high yielding varieties. The vegetable is a common side dish in certain south-east American countries, especially in the winter and autumn season. Apart from its taste, it’s the high nutritional value and myriad health benefits of turnip greens that have made it a popular vegetable across the globe. To give you a better idea about the medicinal effects of the vegetable, a list of its beneficial effects have been given below. Go through them and know more about turnip greens’ diverse benefits.
Health Benefits Of Eating Turnip Greens
- Consumption of turnip greens is very essential for the maintenance of healthy lungs. This is especially true if you are a smoker or are frequently exposed to second-hand smoke. A particular carcinogen present in cigarette smoke i.e. benzo(a)pyrene causes vitamin-A deficiency in the body. This ultimately leads to lung inflammation and the subsequent development of emphysema. To counteract this effect, having vitamin A, in the form of turnip greens, proves good.
- Turnip greens are a rich source of the three major antioxidants in the body, vitamin E, vitamin C and beta-carotene. These three vitamins work in unison to bring down the levels of free radicals in the body. The presence of excess free radicals leads to the clumping of platelets and oxidation of Low Density Lipoprotein (bad cholesterol). These two are the prime mechanisms for the development of atherosclerosis. Hence, by reducing the free radical levels, turnip greens help the body act against the development of this dangerous condition.
- Adequate consumption of vitamin E and vitamin C is associated with an enzyme called paraoxonase, which inhibits the oxidation of both LDL and HDL. These two nutrients also help minimize the levels of a potentially harmful compound, homocysteine, which cause damage to blood vessel walls. Thus, it helps prevent the development or progression of atherosclerosis.
- Recent studies have indicated that the regular consumption of vitamin C, in the form of turnip greens, also helps the body fight against colon tumors.
- The beta-carotene present in the vegetable has been shown to reduce the occurrence of both colon and rectal cancer. This effect is aided by the presence of calcium in the vegetable.
- Another beneficial effect of the beta carotene present in turnip greens is that it helps reduce the incidence of RA (Rheumatoid Arthritis). Beta carotene can be converted to vitamin A in the body. It is this vitamin which is associated with the auto-immune condition of RA. The vitamin helps in the proper functioning of the immune system in the body and also supports the body in producing and maintaining healthy membranes, like synovial membrane lining our joint surface.
- Research has also revealed that regular intake of the vegetable is associated with the reduced decline in cognitive functions.
- Since turnip greens contain a certain amount of oxalates, its regular consumption should be avoided by people who have existing or untreated kidney or gall bladder problems. The main mechanism behind this is that concentration of oxalates in the body can lead to their crystallization and the subsequent development of health problems. Oxalates can also interfere with the absorption of calcium by the body.
- Prior to cooking, wash the leaves of turnip greens properly, by placing them in a bowl of tepid water and cleaning them by swishing movement of the hands. Once done, empty the bowl and replace by fresh clean water and repeat the process.
- For the regular preparation of turnip greens, wash the leaves and fold them in half, with the top side folded inward. Cut along the stem and remove.
- In case you want to cook the leaves for a longer period, you can keep their center stem intact.