Health Benefits of Rutabaga

Medically Reviewed by Kathleen M. Zelman, RD, LD, MPH on February 12, 2024
3 min read

‌Rutabaga, also called Swedish turnip, is a root vegetable that is similar to a turnip. It belongs to the same plant family as cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, radish, turnip, and cauliflower.

‌Like all cruciferous vegetables, rutabaga is loaded with nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants. It’s great for your health, and it’s easy to add to your diet.

‌Rutabaga is a root vegetable that is often said to be a cross between a turnip and a cabbage. Although it has a strong, pungent flavor and an earthy smell, it tastes milder than a turnip when raw. When cooked, rutabagas taste slightly sweet, savory, and buttery like sweet potatoes but with a little bitter flavor. 

Rutabagas look similar to turnips. They are brownish-yellow or purple on the outside and yellow or white on the inside. They are generally seen in Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Scandinavian, European, British, and American cuisines, and they are widely used vegetables because of their high nutrient content. 

‌Rutabagas are an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants, and much more. One medium-sized rutabaga of about 386 grams (a little less than a pound) has:‌

  • 143 calories
  • 33.3 grams of carbohydrates
  • 4.17 grams of protein
  • 0.618 grams of fat
  • 8.8 grams of fiber
  • 166 milligrams of calcium 
  • 77.2 milligrams of magnesium
  • 1180 milligrams of potassium
  • 96.5 milligrams of vitamin C
  • 1.16 milligrams of vitamin E

Rutabaga has no trans fat or cholesterol. It is also rich in antioxidants and glucosinolates, which can help prevent health conditions like heart disease and cancer.

Rutabagas offer plenty of health benefits, including:

High in fiber. They’re an ideal source of roughage in your diet. Eating rutabagas can regulate your bowel movements and help you maintain a healthy gut. Including high-fiber foods in your diet can also help prevent colorectal cancer.

Low in calories. Adding rutabagas to your meals can help with weight loss, which can help prevent long-term (chronic) conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disorders.

High in potassium. Your body needs potassium to keep your nervous system and muscles working as best they can.  It also helps maintain blood pressure, protect against stroke, and prevent kidney stones.

Rich in vitamin C. Vitamin C is essential for your immune system and nervous system. It also assists in collagen formation, which helps maintain your skin and slows aging.

Contains antioxidants. Rutabagas are rich in antioxidants such as carotenoids and vitamins C and E. Antioxidants can help reverse oxidative damage to your cells and prevent chronic health problems. They help you stay healthy by protecting your immune system and organs from free radicals.

Helps prevent cancer. Rutabagas have glucosinolates, chemical compounds with sulfur that give cruciferous vegetables their distinct flavor. In your body, they break down into compounds that help fight cancer.

‌Although rutabagas have many health benefits, they must be eaten in moderation. They can cause discomfort if you have irritable bowel syndrome or allergies related to cruciferous vegetables. If this is the case, talk to your doctor before adding them to your diet.

‌Rutabagas are a great low-calorie substitute for foods in your regular diet. Try: ‌

  • Rutabaga and sweet potato mash
  • Rutabaga puree
  • Boiled rutabaga
  • Rutabaga fries
  • Oven-roasted vegetables with gravy
  • Rutabaga and parsnip soup
  • Vegetable casserole
  • Salad with grated rutabaga

Make sure that you wash them and remove the skin before cooking or eating.