Health Benefits of Kohlrabi

Kohlrabi, also called German turnip, is a cruciferous vegetable in the same family as broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, mustard greens, collards, and kale. It can be eaten raw or cooked and is a popular ingredient in salad or coleslaw. It tastes similar to broccoli with a slightly sweet flavor. 

Kohlrabi is popular in Europe and Asia. However, you may be able to find kohlrabi in your local grocery store or at a farmer’s market during the winter months when it is in season. It’s easily recognizable, given its funny shape. Usually, it looks like a green onion bulb with a bunch of leaves sticking out of it. However, sometimes it can be purple.

Since kohlrabi is a particularly hardy vegetable, it is also easy to grow yourself. For the best results, sow kohlrabi seeds around three to four weeks before the last day of frost in the spring. It takes 45 to 60 days for kohlrabi to reach maturity.

Health Benefits

The vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants in kohlrabi can provide important health benefits. For example, vitamin C helps the body fight off infection and reduce inflammation. Vitamin C can also improve immunity and lower cholesterol

Kohlrabi is also rich in folate, which is an important nutrient for pregnant women because it can help prevent some birth defects.

In addition, kohlrabi can provide other health benefits like:

Metabolic Health

Kohlrabi is a low glycemic index food. As a result, it can help improve satiety and glycemic control. As part of a healthy diet, kohlrabi can help improve overall metabolism and aid with weight loss. 

Bone Density

Because kohlrabi is high in calcium and magnesium, it contributes to stronger bones. In addition to other calcium-rich food sources and weight-bearing exercise, kohlrabi can be part of strengthening bone density.

Antioxidant Properties

In addition to vitamins and minerals, kohlrabi is also rich in carotenoids and other antioxidants. Carotenoids protect the tissues in your body from free radical damage that can lead to serious diseases. Adding kohlrabi and other antioxidant-rich foods to your diet can contribute to your overall health.

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Cancer Prevention

Kohlrabi, along with other cruciferous vegetables, has demonstrated anti-cancer properties. This may be due to the sulfur-containing compounds in cruciferous vegetables, as well as due to their antioxidant phytosterols. 

Supports Gastrointestinal Health

Kohlrabi is rich in both soluble and insoluble (doesn’t dissolve in water) fiber. Insoluble fiber can’t be broken down by your digestive system, speeding up the movement of food through your stomach and intestine. It also adds bulk to your stool. Insoluble fiber promotes regular bowel movements and supports a healthy gastrointestinal system. 

Promotes Heart Heath

The water-soluble fiber in Kohlrabi helps reduce blood glucose (blood sugar) and cholesterol levels. Lower cholesterol levels are associated with a decreased risk of heart disease and stroke.

The fiber in kohlrabi also fuels Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli. These two types of bacteria make important fatty acids that protect against obesity and heart diseases.

Nutrition

Kohlrabi is rich in potassium, which can help reduce the risk of serious health conditions like cancer, diabetes, stroke, and heart disease

It’s also an excellent source of:

Nutrients per Serving

A 1 cup serving of raw kohlrabi contains:

Portion Sizes

Kohlrabi is a healthy ingredient, and it’s low in calories. Eating too much of any cruciferous vegetable can cause gas that can make you uncomfortable. Moderate your portion sizes to help ensure that you are able to enjoy the benefits of kohlrabi without negative digestive effects.

How to Prepare Kohlrabi

Kohlrabi is often found in the produce section at many grocery and health food stores. You can also find kohlrabi at the farmer’s market or grow your own. 

You can prepare kohlrabi raw in salads or slaws, roast it, or prepare it in soups and stews. 

Here are some ways to use kohlrabi in recipes:

  • Peel and roast kohlrabi bulbs with garlic, olive oil, and parmesan cheese
  • Slice kohlrabi bulbs and add to a slaw with apples
  • Add kohlrabi to chicken soup for some extra crunch and body
  • Puree kohlrabi with onion for a creamy soup base
  • Boil kohlrabi bulbs and serve in a cream sauce as a side dish with meat or fish
  • Mash kohlrabi with potatoes for a healthier version of mashed potatoes
WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on November 24, 2020

Sources

SOURCES:

Advances in Nutrition: “White Vegetables: Glycemia and Satiety.”

American Heart Association: “The Role of Foods and Your Health: Cholesterol and Blood Sugar.”

Brassica Germplasm: Characterization, Breeding and Utilization

ESHA Research, Inc., Salem, Oregon.

Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry: “Metabolic Profiling of Glucosinolates, Anthocyanins, Carotenoids, and Other Secondary Metabolites in Kohlrabi (Brassica oleracea var. gongylodes).”

Korea Science: “Comparison of Physicochemical Composition of Kohlrabi Flesh and Peel.”

Journal of Functional Foods: “Crucial Facts about Health Benefits of Popular Cruciferous Vegetables.”

MedlinePlus: “Soluble and insoluble fiber.”

National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements: “Folate.”

Shandong Food Ferment: “Isolation and Identification of Bacteria From Fermented Kohlrabi in Natural Fermentation Process.”

United States Department of Agriculture: “Glucosinolates in crucifer vegetables: broccoli, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, collards, kale, mustard greens, and kohlrabi.”

© 2020 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

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