What is kohlrabi? Nutrition, benefits, and uses
What is kohlrabi? Nutrition, benefits, and uses
Kohlrabi is a vegetable that’s related to the cabbage family.
It’s widely consumed in Europe and Asia and has gained popularity around the world for its health benefits and culinary uses.
This article reviews kohlrabi, including its nutrients, benefits, and many uses.
What is kohlrabi?
Kohlrabi, also known as German turnip, is a cruciferous vegetable.
Despite its name, kohlrabi is not a root vegetable and does not belong to the turnip family. Instead, it belongs to the Brassica genus of plants and is related to cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower (1).
It has a long leafy stem and round bulb that’s usually purple, pale green, or white. It’s always white-yellow on the inside (1).
Kohlrabi’s taste and texture are similar to those of broccoli stems and cabbage, although it is slightly sweeter.
The bulb is widely used in salads and soups but can also be roasted or sautéed. Its leaves and stems are slightly crunchy and cook similarly to collard greens.
Kohlrabi is a cruciferous vegetable that’s closely related to cabbage. Its leaves, stems, and bulbs can be eaten raw or cooked.
Kohlrabi is an excellent source of nutrients.
One cup (135 grams) of raw kohlrabi provides (2):
- Calories: 36
- Carbs: 8 grams
- Fiber: 5 grams
- Protein: 2 grams
- Vitamin C: 93% of the Daily Value (DV)
- Vitamin B6: 12% of the DV
- Potassium: 10% of the DV
- Magnesium: 6% of the DV
- Manganese: 8% of the DV
- Folate: 5% of the DV
The vegetable is an excellent source of vitamin C, a potent antioxidant that protects your body from free radical damage and plays a role in wound healing, collagen synthesis, iron absorption, and immune health (3, 4, 5, 6).
Furthermore, it’s rich in vitamin B6, which supports immune health, protein metabolism, and red blood cell production (7).
One cup (135 grams) of kohlrabi provides 93% of your daily vitamin C needs. It’s also a good source of potassium, fiber, and vitamin B6.
Health benefits of kohlrabi
Kohlrabi is very nutritious and offers various health benefits.
High in antioxidants
Kohlrabi contains a wide array of antioxidants, such as vitamin C, anthocyanins, isothiocyanates, and glucosinolates. These are plant compounds that protect your cells against free radical damage that may otherwise increase your risk of disease (1, 11).
Diets high in antioxidant-rich vegetables like kohlrabi are associated with a reduced risk of diabetes, metabolic disease, and premature death (12).
The skin of purple kohlrabi is particularly high anthocyanins, a type of flavonoid that gives vegetables and fruit a red, purple, or blue color. High intake of anthocyanins is linked to a lower risk of heart disease and mental decline (13, 14, 15).
All color varieties of kohlrabi are high in isothiocyanates and glucosinolates, which are powerful antioxidants associated with a lower risk of certain cancers, heart disease, and inflammation (16, 17, 18).
Promotes a healthy gut
It contains both soluble and insoluble fiber.
The former is water-soluble and helps maintain healthy blood sugar and cholesterol levels. On the other hand, insoluble fiber isn’t broken down in your intestine, helping add bulk to your stool and promoting regular bowel movements (19).
What’s more, fiber is the main fuel source of healthy gut bacteria, such as Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli. These bacteria produce short-chain fatty acids, which nourish the cells of your gut and may protect against heart disease and obesity (20, 21).
May lower your risk of heart disease
Kohlrabi contains powerful plant compounds called glucosinolates and isothiocyanates, which are mainly found in cruciferous vegetables.
High glucosinolate intake is linked to a lower risk of heart disease due to this compound’s ability to widen blood vessels and reduce inflammation. Moreover, isothiocyanates have antioxidant properties that may prevent plaque buildup in your arteries (25).
A long-term study in 1,226 women aged 70 or older found that eating a diet rich in cruciferous vegetables was associated with a 13% lower risk of death from heart disease for every 10-gram increase in fiber intake per day (25).
Finally, a high-fiber diet may protect against heart disease. One review of 15 studies found that a diet rich in this nutrient decreased the risk of death from heart disease by 24%, compared with low-fiber diets (29, 30).
Supports a healthy immune system
The nutrients in kohlrabi may support your immune system.
Vitamin B6 is involved in the production of white blood cells and T-cells, which are types of immune cells that fight foreign substances and are key to a healthy immune system. Deficiency in this nutrient is linked to a weakened immune system (31, 32).
Additionally, kohlrabi is an excellent source of vitamin C, which may support white blood cell function and, ultimately, strengthen your immune system (33).
Kohlrabi packs nutrients and antioxidants that may boost immune health and lower your risk of chronic disease. Also, its high fiber content supports a healthy gut microbiome.
How to add kohlrabi to your diet
Typically grown in the winter months, kohlrabi can usually be found in most grocery stores.
Raw kohlrabi bulbs can be chopped or grated into a salad or enjoyed as a crunchy snack with hummus. However, you may want to peel the skin, as some people find it too tough.
It can also be cooked in many ways, such as boiled, sautéed, or roasted.
Meanwhile, its leaves can be added to a salad, sautéed in a stir fry, or added to soups.
What’s more, the bulb can replace crunchy vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, radishes, and potatoes, while the leaves can be used in place of kale, spinach, or other greens.
Kohlrabi is a delicious and easy addition to many recipes. Both its bulb and leaves can be eaten raw or cooked and serve as easy swaps in many recipes. Still, you may want to peel its skin if you find it too tough.
The bottom line
Kohlrabi is packed with nutrients that are linked to various health benefits.
It’s rich in fiber, which is important for a healthy gut and proper digestion.
Plus, its many nutrients and plant compounds support your immune system and may lower your risk of heart disease, certain cancers, and inflammation.
If you want to experiment with new vegetables, kohlrabi is an easy, versatile ingredient to add to your recipes.
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