There exist several types of root vegetables which are classified according to the type of roots they have. We consume these roots because these plants store nutrients in their roots. The function of the root is to provide firm support to the plant. But in some cases, roots work as a stem and store the nutrients. We consume root vegetables which provide lots of essential nutrients. Carrots, beats, radishes, potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, turnip, lotus root, turmeric, taro are examples of such vegetables.
Root Vegetables Nutritional Value
We consume several types of root vegetables. Nutritional value of one vegetable is different from another. Described below are the nutritional value and health benefits of some commonly consumed root vegetables.
Turmeric: Dry turmeric powder is mainly used as a spice. But fresh pickled turmeric is also used in Asian cuisine as it exhibits several medicinal benefits. It is rich in curcumin which carries anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, analgesic properties. It is used as a traditional medicine to treat several conditions like flatulence, jaundice, menstrual difficulties, sore throat, arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, bloody urine, hemorrhage, toothache, bruises, etc. It is believed that it inhibits the growth of cancer cells.
Potatoes: Potatoes contain dietary fibers that improve digestion. You should eat potatoes without removing their skin. Vitamin B6 in potatoes helps enhance the function of the brain. Potassium from potatoes helps stabilize blood pressure levels. Potatoes are used to treat inflammation. They offer you smooth skin and strong immune system.
Beets: Beets detoxify and cleanse your blood. They are rich in various nutrients like potassium, calcium, selenium, zinc, vitamin C, iron, manganese, magnesium, beta carotene, etc. They are packed with dietary fiber. Despite being high in nutrients, they are low in calories.
Onion: Onions contain 80% water. They contain several vitamins, minerals, carbs, fat and protein. They help lower the symptoms of diabetes as they contain two important compounds namely, allyl propyl disulfide and diallyl disulfide. They help prevent asthma, osteoporosis, cardiovascular diseases and even cancer. Onion juice is used to treat various health conditions like high fever, sinus infection, insomnia.
Radish: Radishes carry anti bacterial, anti fungal properties. They are rich in vitamin C, potassium, folate and dietary fiber. They help improve liver health and stomach health. The fiber promotes natural weight loss. They are used to treat leukoderma as they work as detoxifying agent and exhibit anti carcinogenic properties. They work great for skin disorders as they contain vitamin C, phosphorus, zinc and vitamin B6. They also exhibit anti congestive properties and hence, are used to treat respiratory infections and disorders.
Important Nutrients in Root Vegetables
Complex Carbohydrates: Sweet potatoes are considered as an excellent source of complex carbohydrates. These carbohydrates are slowly digested by the body and hence, they keep you satiated for a longer period of time. Carbohydrates provide us glucose which is converted into energy by our body. As complex carbohydrates are slowly digested, they don't lead to sudden rise in blood sugar levels. They in fact, promote stable blood sugar levels. Carbohydrates are the main source of energy and many root vegetables like carrots, corm, parsnips and potatoes are rich in complex carbohydrates or starch.
Beta Carotene: Beta carotene, a precursor of vitamin A, is the essential nutrient which offers yellowish, orange or red color to the vegetables. It enhances cell to cell communication and prevents abnormal growth of cells that leads to cancer. It is an excellent source of antioxidants which help cancel the effects of free radicals on the body. It slows down the process of aging, prevents cardiovascular diseases, strengthens the immune system, ensures eye health, healthy skin and strong hair. Carrots, turnips, sweet potatoes, beets, etc., are examples of sources of beta carotene.
Vitamins: Most root vegetables are loaded with vitamins A and C. For example, carrots, sweet potatoes and turnips are packed with vitamins A and C. Potatoes contain a good amount of vitamin C. Vitamin A is essential for healthy mucous membranes in the body. It also offers strong hair and supple skin. It helps keep the teeth and bones strong. Vitamin C is an antioxidant vitamin which strengthens the immune system. Many root vegetables like radish, potatoes, carrots, etc., contain vitamin B6 which helps enhance brain function. Carrots also contain vitamin B1, B3, K and molybdenum. Some root vegetables contain folate which helps prevent birth defects in fetus.
Dietary Fiber: Almost all root vegetables are high in dietary fiber, which is nothing but a type of complex carbohydrate. Our body cannot digest the fiber but the fiber helps improve the digestive health! It prevents severe fluctuations in blood sugar levels in diabetics and promotes stable blood sugar levels. Consumption of fiber promotes less absorption of cholesterol and helps lose weight in a healthy way. Potatoes, carrots, radish, beet, contain a good amount of dietary fiber.
Minerals: All root vegetables are rich in minerals like iron, copper, calcium, manganese, magnesium, potassium, selenium, zinc, etc., which help improve the overall health. Iron improves blood quality resulting in overall improved physical and mental performance. Potassium helps improve heart health. Antioxidant properties of some of these minerals help prevent various diseases.
The above examples explain how root vegetables nutrition plays an important role in the health of an individual. You can consume these vegetables in a number of ways; raw, cooked, roasted, grilled, baked, etc. Thanks to our ancestors who discovered these buried treasures. Now it is up to us to make the most of it.