Can You Eat Raw Turnips?

Fozia Sherazi, Dr of Dietetics and Nutritional Sciences

Written by Fozia Sherazi, Dr of Dietetics and Nutritional Sciences. Updated on March 12, 2023.

Turnips, or Brassica rapa (variety rapa), are hardy biennial plants of the Brassicaceae family that are grown for their fleshy roots and delicate growing leaves.

Turnips have been grown for centuries due to their many benefits: they are relatively easy to cultivate, require little water and space, and can thrive in almost any soil type.

Originally native to Eurasia, European farmers widely cultivated turnips in the Middle Ages.

By the eighteenth century, turnips had become a staple crop in many parts of Europe and the United States.

The turnip is a versatile crop that can be grown in temperate climates in both urban and rural areas.

It is an important crop that can be used in various ways, including animal feed, human food, and even as a raw material for several products.

Turnips are easy to grow and maintain, requiring little effort to yield a harvest.

The shape of a turnip is bulbous, and its color is frequently a combination of purple, white, and yellow.

Turnips have a wide variety and a distinctive flavor and shelf life.

Some common types are the purple top strap leaf, the gold ball, the purple-top white globe, the purple top milan, the goose egg, the orange jelly, the seven top, and the shogun, both of which are grown for their edible leaves.

Some vegetables are often confused with turnips, such as rutabagas, kohlrabi, and parsnips, but they have different flavors and textures.

Despite their similarities, each vegetable offers a unique culinary experience.

Turnips are versatile vegetables and can be consumed in various ways, including boiled, mashed, roasted, sautéed, raw, and even pickled.

You can add them to salads, soups, stews, and stir-fries for flavor and texture.

The leaves of turnips can also be eaten raw.

They are high in vitamins and minerals. These leaves can be boiled, sautéed, steamed, and added to salads and other dishes.

Can Raw Turnips Make You Sick?

Though generally safe to eat, raw turnips may contain bacteria or parasites that can make you sick. Other than that, raw turnips have components that can induce gastrointestinal distress if they are consumed in large amounts.

If turnips are handled improperly or grown in contaminated soil, the risk of food poisoning increases.

Therefore, handling turnips properly and purchasing them from a reputable source is essential.

To prepare turnips for raw consumption, it is crucial to ensure that all parts of the vegetable, including the leaves and roots, are washed in running water for several minutes.

After that, peel the skin off using a vegetable peeler or sharp knife and dice the turnips into cubes or slices before consuming.

You can also cut the turnip greens into thin strips and toss them in a salad for ” rel=”noopener” target=”_blank”>extra vitamins.

To store turnips in the refrigerator, wrap them in a paper towel and place them in an airtight container.

To maximize their freshness and flavor, you should eat turnips soon after they are bought.

Benefits of Eating Turnips Raw

Eating turnips raw provides a crunchy, sweet, and peppery flavor. In addition, eating raw turnips has numerous health benefits due to their high vitamin and mineral content.

Raw turnips are an excellent source of vitamins A, C, K, B6, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and dietary fiber.

The following are the health benefits of eating turnips raw:

Antioxidant Properties

Eating turnips raw helps increase your intake of antioxidants, which help fight off free radicals that can lead to cell damage.

These antioxidants include vitamin C and carotenoids like beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin.

Turnips also contain other compounds like quercetin and kaempferol, flavonoids known for their antioxidant capabilities.

Anti-inflammatory Properties

Turnips are a great source of compounds that possess anti-inflammatory properties.

These compounds, like glucosinolates and omega-3 fatty acids, can help reduce the risk of chronic inflammatory diseases such as asthma, arthritis, and even certain types of cancer.

In addition, omega-3 fatty acids benefit mental health and cognitive development and improve cardiovascular health.

Eye Health

Turnips are also a great source of antioxidants, which can help protect the eyes from damage caused by free radicals and reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration.

Furthermore, turnips contain compounds such as lutein and zeaxanthin that can help protect the eyes from blue light damage caused by electronic devices.

Turnips are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, essential for healthy cell membranes and brain function.

Side Effects of Eating Turnips Raw

Eating turnips raw can have some side effects. Consuming too much raw turnip can cause an upset stomach, nausea, and diarrhea due to the high amounts of oxalates found in the vegetable.

Additionally, eating too many raw turnips can interfere with the absorption of certain minerals, such as calcium and magnesium, leading to a deficiency.

Turnip leaves are also edible, but they should be cooked as they contain a higher concentration of oxalates than the root and can cause even more digestive issues if consumed raw.

Other than that, turnips have compounds called glucosinolates, which may act as goitrogens and potentially interfere with the function of the thyroid gland.

To prevent these adverse reactions, it is recommended to consume raw turnips in moderation.


The hardy biennial turnip, or Brassica rapa, is a member of the Brassicaceae family and is cultivated for its fleshy roots and tender, young leaves.

They are available in several varieties and may be eaten in numerous ways, including boiled, mashed, roasted, sautéed, raw, and pickled.

Turnips are normally safe to consume, but you should avoid eating them raw if you are concerned about contamination.

Turnips have several health advantages, including high levels of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds and a high vitamin and mineral content when eaten raw.

They also have a crisp, sweet, and peppery taste.

Eating turnips can help lower the risk of long-term diseases that cause inflammation, improve eye health, and protect the eyes from damage caused by blue light.

Raw turnips have been linked to gastrointestinal distress, vomiting, and diarrhea and may prevent the body from absorbing essential nutrients.

To avoid these side effects, take raw turnips in moderation.

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