A rutabaga is a nutritious root vegetable that some people call swede, neep, or Swedish turnip. It contains phytochemicals, fiber, and other nutrients that may also support weight management, immunity, and healthy bowels.

Many people consider rutabaga to have a peppery flavor and think it goes well in many everyday dishes.

This article explores rutabagas in more detail, including their health benefits and nutrition profile. It also provides cooking tips and advice about the potential adverse effects of eating rutabagas. Finally, it answers some common questions about rutabagas.

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Brassica napus, or rutabaga, is a root vegetable that belongs to the Brassica family. Some people describe rutabaga as a cross between a turnip and a cabbage. It is a large round vegetable with tough reddish-purple skin and yellow flesh.

Rutabaga is the most common term that people in the United States use to describe the plant. However, in other parts of the world, people may know rutabaga by different names including:

  • swede
  • Swedish turnip
  • neep

People commonly consume rutabaga flesh but sometimes they may also eat the roots and leaves. A person may decide to boil, bake, or mash rutabaga. They may include it in stews and casseroles, or as a side serving of vegetables with the main meal.

Rutabaga is a nutritious vegetable with several health benefits as part of a balanced diet.

Encourages healthy bowels

A cup of boiled and mashed rutabaga provides 4.32 grams (g) of dietary fiber toward the 14 g of fiber per 1000 calories that the American government recommends people consume.

Dietary fiber helps to keep the bowels healthy and can decrease the risk of:

Helps to maintain a moderate weight

Rutabaga is a low calorie food, containing only 37 calories per 100 g. It is also a good source of fiber.

Fiber slows the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates and stabilizes blood sugar. Research indicates that fiber helps to:

Someone may include mashed rutabaga with a meal instead of something less nutritious like potato fries. This may help them manage their weight as part of a balanced diet.

Prevents inflammation and supports immunity

Research shows that rutabagas contain nutrients and phytochemicals that help prevent inflammation and support the immune system, including:

May help to prevent cancer

Cruciferous vegetables in the Brassica family contain compounds called glucosinolates.

Research suggests that glucosinolates may help to prevent cancer. However, many studies have been on animals, and human trials have shown mixed results.

The National Cancer Institute advises that higher consumption of vegetables may protect against some diseases, including some cancers. This advice applies to vegetables in general, not cruciferous vegetables specifically.

May support sleep, mood, and hunger regulation

An older study found that rutabaga plants and sprouts contain compounds that support sleep, mood, and hunger regulation. These researchers found these compounds in high concentrations in rutabaga:

Rutabaga is a low fat, high fiber source of vitamins and minerals. Raw rutabaga contains the following nutrients per 100 g:

NutrientAmount per 100 g
Calories (energy)37
Protein1.08 g
Carbohydrate8.62 g
Fat0.16 g
Fiber2.3 g
Calcium43 mg
Magnesium20 mg
Vitamin C25 mg
Potassium305 mg

When shopping for rutabaga, people should look for a firm, smooth vegetable that feels heavy for its size. A person should avoid rutabaga with decay, deep cracks, or punctures.

A person may keep rutabagas in the refrigerator or at room temperature. However, a person should use rutabagas sooner if they are not kept in a refrigerator.

Although people can eat rutabagas raw, they have a strong flavor best suited to cooking. People should peel them before cooking to remove the skin and wax.

A person may cook rutabagas using the following methods:

  • baking or roasting
  • stir-frying
  • boiling
  • steaming
  • microwaving
  • braising

Some people may find rutabaga difficult to digest, particularly in large quantities. If someone has a digestive condition, such as irritable bowel syndrome, they may consider speaking with a doctor or dietitian before consuming rutabaga.

Additionally, cruciferous vegetables like rutabaga may affect an enzyme called cytochrome P450, which detoxifies drugs. For this reason, eating large amounts of cruciferous vegetables may interact with a person’s medication. However, further research is necessary.

People should speak with their doctor or pharmacist if they have concerns.

Below are some of the most common questions and answers about rutabagas.

Is rutabaga the same thing as a turnip?

Turnips are a slightly different species, Brassica rapa, and have white flesh compared to rutabaga’s yellow flesh. People generally eat turnips when they are young and tender, either raw or after cooking them.

Rutabagas are typically larger, harder, and denser than turnips, with a more fibrous skin. Therefore, people usually cook rutabagas before eating them.

How does rutabaga taste?

Rutabaga has a sweet, mild, peppery taste. Many people find rutabaga tastes pleasant. However, rutabaga may not be to everyone’s taste. Some people have a gene that makes some cruciferous vegetables taste particularly bitter.

How do you eat rutabaga?

People should peel and chop rutabaga before cooking. They can use a variety of cooking methods such as steaming, boiling, or roasting.

A person can combine rutabaga with other root vegetables, such as sweet potatoes or parsnips. Alternatively, they may serve rutabagas mashed with olive oil or butter, and salt and black pepper.

Rutabaga makes a healthy addition to stews, soups, and casseroles. A person may also slice it thinly and add it to a stir-fry.

Rutabaga is a cruciferous root vegetable that people refer to by different names such as swede, Swedish turnip, or neep. However, it differs from a turnip in its species, flavor, and appearance.

Rutabagas contain many beneficial nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. They may help to control weight, keep the bowels healthy, and prevent chronic diseases. In addition, people can cook it in various ways and use it as an alternative to unhealthier foods, such as potato fries.

A person may wish to speak with a healthcare professional before eating rutabagas if they have a digestive disorder.