Brassica napus or most commonly known as Rutabaga, Swedish turnip, or Swede, is a root vegetable. It’s a staple in Northern European cuisine and is often said to be a cross between a turnip and cabbage. Loaded with many essential nutrients and belongs to the cruciferous family. It’s rich in antioxidants and dietary fiber that offer a wide range of health benefits, which include reduced cancer risk and improved digestion. 

We’ll explore the possible benefits of Rutabaga in this article.

What is Rutabaga?


Rutabaga is primarily a winter food and is very popular in a large number of countries. It’s a nutrient-packed and sweet root vegetable. It originated sometime in the 17th century. It can also be added to casseroles, pastries, soups, or as an addition to other meals and gravies. You can also eat it together with other accompaniments, as a side dish, or can be eaten as a whole meal. 

Types of Rutabaga

Rutabagas produce round, firm roots that are sweet and have yellow flesh. There are also a lot of varieties of Rutabaga that include:

  • American Purple Top: It’s the most common type of rutabaga, it has a mild flavor. It also has a yellow or cream-colored bottom and a purplish top. It tastes sweet and also firm. This turns into a rich orange color when cooked.
  • Joan: This rutabaga has a purple top and is uniformly round. It tastes mild and sweet while young, and the flavor enhances with maturity. It’s also known to be disease-resistant. 
  • Laurentian: This is a Canadian native and is elongated. It has a mild taste and a red top, also cream-colored. 
  • Sweet Russian: This type of rutabaga is delicious and sweet. It’s also highly resistant to frosty cold conditions. 
  • Marian: This type of rutabaga is large and grows up to 8 inches in diameter. It has a purple top and looks yellowish. Some people store this in their root cellar for up to four months. 

Nutritional Value of Rutabaga


It is known that Rutabaga contains high amounts of beta-carotene. It also has a rich source of potassium, calcium, manganese, and magnesium. Moreover, rutabaga has high amounts of fiber, thiamine, and vitamin B6, which are needed for the smooth functioning of the body systems. 

Another amazing vitamin that rutabaga contains is Vitamins K, E, and C, along with zinc and iron content. It also provides carotenoids. Rutabaga is known to provide a number of amazing health benefits while also effectively treating a lot of diseases. 

Nutritional Facts Per 100 grams of Rutabaga
Total Fat 0.2 g
Sodium12 mg
Potassium305 mg
Carbohydrates9 g 
Protein1.1 g
Vitamins and MineralsPer 100 grams of Rutabaga
Vitamin C41%
Iron 2%
Vitamin B-65%

Benefits of Rutabaga

Rutabaga contains also contains antioxidants, fatty acids, and amino acids. But how do you know if these nutrients benefit your health? Listed below are the best health benefits of Rutabaga: 

Prevents Cancer

This vegetable has exceptionally high compounds of antioxidants, this is one of the reasons why rutabaga is a top cancer-fighting food. One of the significant compounds you can find in rutabaga is glucosinolate, a sulfur-containing compound that has been shown to reduce cancer growth. 

Furthermore, a lot of epidemiological studies suggest that brassica vegetables are protective against cancers of the alimentary tract and lungs. 

It also contains glucosinolates, which effectively combat tumors and other malignant growth in the body. It also reduces and prevents any toxic effects of free radicals in the body. 

Through the process of chewing, the glucosinolate in rutabaga remains intact until they are brought into contact with the enzyme myrosinase. The myrosinase also releases glucose, and breakdown products, including the isothiocyanates, which stimulate programmed cell death in human tumor cells (in vivo and in vitro) [1].

Aids Digestion

Rutabagas are known to be very high in fiber. By bulking up the stool and also encouraging elimination, the dietary fiber improves digestion. Moreover, a study from 2012 showed that dietary intake could increase stool frequency in patients with constipation [2]. 

Studies also suggest that adding more fiber to your diet may play a vital role in the treatment of conditions such as:

  • Hemorrhoids 
  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Gastrointestinal disease 
  • High cholesterol 
  • Stroke 
  • Some forms of cancer

Adding rutabaga to your daily diet is a smart choice for your overall well-being. 

Boosts Immune Health 

It’s also rich in vitamin C, which can boost the immune system, help fight infections, and reduce the severity of allergic reactions. Vitamin C is known to relieve the symptoms of respiratory tract infections and the common cold and also fight diarrhea, pneumonia, and malaria better [3][4]. 

Improves Heart Health 

Since rutabagas are high in potassium, it helps lower blood pressure in people with hypertension. Increasing the intake of rutabaga may also decrease the risk of heart failure, ventricular arrhythmias (abnormal heartbeats), ventricular hypertrophy (defective pumping by the heart’s left chamber), and ischaemic heart disease [5]. A study also shows that high potassium intake can lower the risk of stroke by 24% [6].

Rich in Antioxidants

Rutabaga is also a high-antioxidant food filled with powerful antioxidants known as carotenoids, which the body can turn into vitamin A. 

Carotenoids are also present in many plants, they act as accessory pigments and provide photoprotection in photosynthesis. 

A lot of prospective epidemiological studies show that having a high intake of carotenoid-rich vegetables and fruits is also known to be associated with a decreased risk of cancer at several common sites [7].

May Contain Anticancer Properties

Cruciferous vegetables are also rich in antioxidants that may help reduce cancer risk. We know that these vegetables contain glucosinolate, a compound that may help protect against alimentary tract and lung cancers [8]. 

Moreover, a study about rutabaga extracts found that it has the potential to induce apoptosis [9]. 

Risks and Side Effects

Rutabaga contains raffinose since it’s a cruciferous vegetable. Raffinose is a complex sugar that sometimes can cause abdominal discomfort, flatulence, and bloating. We also have a methane-producing bacteria in our colon that feeds on raffinose. For some people, this can also result in the release of gas. 

Cooking rutabagas longer doesn’t reduce these effects, but increasing your intake of probiotics may help. 

If you’re allergic to spinach, cabbage, turnips, or any cruciferous vegetables, keep in mind to consult a physician first before adding rutabaga to your diet. Allergies to rutabaga are not common, but if you’re experiencing any symptoms of food allergies, discontinue the consumption of rutabaga and seek medical attention.  

Are Rutabaga and Potato the same?


Both potato and rutabaga are cooked similarly. The difference is rutabaga is sweeter and less starchy than a potato. It also has fewer calories. A cup of boiled rutabaga has 51 calories as compared to 249 calories of a cup of mashed potato offers [10]. If you’re adopting a low-carb lifestyle, rutabaga is a fantastic addition to your diet. 

Rutabaga vs. Turnips

We often get confused about turnip and rutabaga because of the way they look. They’re relatives, and the difference is that rutabagas are denser, larger, and higher in many essential nutrients. 

If you look closely, they vary in taste and appearance. Turnips have white flesh with white or white and purple skin. While rutabagas, on the other hand, have yellow flesh and purple-tinged yellow skin.

They both have a sweet and nutty yet peppery flavor. Rutabagas are sweeter, while turnips are more peppery in taste. Due to the lower moisture content of rutabagas than a turnip, they can be kept better. 

How to Add it to Your Diet and Cook?


Rutabagas are easily found in the vegetable section of your nearest grocery store. But keep in mind that even though you can find rutabagas year-round, some stores only have them when they are in season like fall or spring. 

A great thing to note when purchasing rutabaga is to choose the one that feels smooth, firm, and heavy for its size. This will be the best tasting and freshest. Avoid rutabagas that have punctures, deep cuts, cracks, or decay. 

You can store it at room temperature for about a week or in the refrigerator for about 2 weeks. Here’s how to prepare rutabaga and add it to your diet for cooking: 

  1. Get a large knife, cutting board, and a paring knife or a vegetable peeler. 
  2. Rinse the rutabaga with water and dry it thoroughly. 
  3. Use the vegetable peeler or paring knife to remove the rutabaga’s outer layer. 
  4. Cut off the bottom of the rutabaga. 
  5. Use your large knife to cut it in half and slice it into quarters. 
  6. Chop it continuously until you have one to two-inch cubes or whatever size you prefer. Keep the pieces consistent, as this will give you the best texture and even cooking. 

After chopping it, you can roast, boil, or mash it for a side dish. Adding it to a hearty stew or soup with potatoes or other root vegetables is great. 

The Bottomline: Benefits of Rutabaga

Rutabaga is an excellent root vegetable that can fit into your healthy diet because it has incredible features like dietary fiber, minerals, and vitamins. It’s also rich in antioxidants that have anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, and immune-boosting effects. It can be cooked in different varieties, like adding it to soups, casseroles, and stews. Consuming it has no recorded side effects. Keep in mind to consult your doctor immediately whenever you experience any allergic reaction to rutabagas. 

Disclaimer: This article is only a guide. It does not substitute the advice given by your own healthcare professional. Before making any health-related decision, consult your healthcare professional.

Editorial References And Fact-Checking

  • Johnson I. T. (2002). Glucosinolates: bioavailability and importance to health. International journal for vitamin and nutrition research. Internationale Zeitschrift fur Vitamin- und Ernahrungsforschung. Journal international de vitaminologie et de nutrition, 72(1), 26–31.
  • Yang, J., Wang, H. P., Zhou, L., & Xu, C. F. (2012). Effect of dietary fiber on constipation: a meta analysis. World journal of gastroenterology, 18(48), 7378–7383.
  • Chambial, S., Dwivedi, S., Shukla, K. K., John, P. J., & Sharma, P. (2013). Vitamin C in disease prevention and cure: an overview. Indian journal of clinical biochemistry : IJCB, 28(4), 314–328.
  • Wintergerst, E. S., Maggini, S., & Hornig, D. H. (2006). Immune-enhancing role of vitamin C and zinc and effect on clinical conditions. Annals of nutrition & metabolism, 50(2), 85–94.
  • He, F. J., & MacGregor, G. A. (2008). Beneficial effects of potassium on human health. Physiologia plantarum, 133(4), 725–735.
  • Aburto, N. J., Hanson, S., Gutierrez, H., Hooper, L., Elliott, P., & Cappuccio, F. P. (2013). Effect of increased potassium intake on cardiovascular risk factors and disease: systematic review and meta-analyses. BMJ (Clinical research ed.), 346, f1378.
  • van Poppel G. (1993). Carotenoids and cancer: an update with emphasis on human intervention studies. European journal of cancer (Oxford, England : 1990), 29A(9), 1335–1344.
  • Abbaoui, B., Lucas, C. R., Riedl, K. M., Clinton, S. K., & Mortazavi, A. (2018). Cruciferous Vegetables, Isothiocyanates, and Bladder Cancer Prevention. Molecular nutrition & food research, 62(18), e1800079.
  • Pasko, P., Bukowska-Strakova, K., Gdula-Argasinska, J., & Tyszka-Czochara, M. (2013). Rutabaga (Brassica napus L. var. napobrassica) seeds, roots, and sprouts: a novel kind of food with antioxidant properties and proapoptotic potential in Hep G2 hepatoma cell line. Journal of medicinal food, 16(8), 749–759.
  • FoodData Central. (n.d.). FDA. Retrieved August 28, 2022, from


  • Kim Monasterial, BSN

    Kim is a Registered Nurse and has been a medical freelance writer for more than six years. Starting off as a writer, Kim moved to proofreading and editing all the articles posted on HealthPlugged. She’s an enthusiast for health and wellness, being one to keep herself fit and adventurous for outdoor activities. LinkedIn


Kim is a Registered Nurse and has been a medical freelance writer for more than six years. Starting off as a writer, Kim moved to proofreading and editing all the articles posted on HealthPlugged. She’s an enthusiast for health and wellness, being one to keep herself fit and adventurous for outdoor activities. LinkedIn