This week, we are going to explore some new and exciting facts about the Rutabaga, also known as the Swedish turnip, or simply, swedes.
This vegetable most likely originated in Sweden, where it grew wild. It is a cross between a cabbage and a turnip, so not only can the root be eaten, but the greens often are as well.
In Ireland, it was also the original Jack-o-lantern. It wasn’t until the 1980s that the culture began to switch to using pumpkins instead.
In my opinion, way creepier than a Jack-o-lantern.
Along with giving us a spooky holiday tradition, Rutabagas are invaluable to your health. It is a member of the vegetable family crucifiers, which is high in cancer fighting agents.
The Rutabaga is so well known for it’s cancer-fighting properties, the American Cancer Association recommends eating these vegetables several times a week. They’ve been shown to reduce the risk of prostate cancer, and there’s a correlation between fewer tumors and crucifier vegetable intake.
Part of what makes the rutabaga such an excellent cancer fighting veggie is its reduction in oxidative stress. Very scientific, I know, but hang with me, and then you can be the cool one at parties…as long as your parties are full of botanists and health foodies.
Anyway, oxidative stress is when your body generates all of these harmful molecules called “oxygen free radical.” The reason why no one likes free radicals is because not only do they kill other cells, but they also damage your DNA. That’s why eating veggies that are high in antioxidants, like the rutabaga, helps prevent cancer.
According to a study done by the National Cancer Institute, its participants reduced their oxidative stress by 20% when they added crucifer vegetables, like the rutabaga, to their daily diet.
When cooking, we recommend steaming to retain all of these healthy properties as much as possible. They make an excellent side dish that goes with just about anything. And, it’s always a plus to know you’re helping fight cancer.