What Is a Rutabaga & Why Should You Eat It?

Soniya
Rutabaga is loaded with nutrients and easy to cook. (Image via Unsplash / Nick Fewings)
Rutabaga is loaded with nutrients and easy to cook. (Image via Unsplash / Nick Fewings)

Rutabaga is a root vegetable that many people don’t know about, although it's best to familiarize oneself with it for the many benefits it promises. This tasty vegetable is easy to grow, nutritious, and easy to cook.

In this article, we’ll explore what it is, what the vegetable tastes like, and the benefits it has for those who eat it.


What Is a Rutabaga?

Rutabaga is a root vegetable that grows in the cabbage family. It's often called a "Swede Vegetable" or "Yellow Turnip." Like many members of the cabbage family, its roots were once used as medicine.

Contains medicinal properties. (Image via Unsplash / Omer Haktan)
Contains medicinal properties. (Image via Unsplash / Omer Haktan)

It was first cultivated around 1500 BC in Sweden and is believed to be a cross between turnips and cabbages. The name comes from the Swedish word meaning "root of the master," which refers to its popularity among peasants who relied on it for sustenance during harsh winters.

This is one of only two vegetables which are naturally red, which makes them unique among all other root vegetables!


Health Benefits of Rutabaga

This vegetable can provide you with a variety of health benefits, including:

Great source of fiber and anti-oxidant. (Image via Unsplash / Jonathan Kemper)
Great source of fiber and anti-oxidant. (Image via Unsplash / Jonathan Kemper)

1) You can get lots of fiber, a great source of roughage, from it. Eating them can keep your bowels moving and reduce your risk of colon cancer.

2) They are low in calories and make a good addition to your diet if you're looking to lose weight. They provide soluble fiber, which has been linked to lowering cholesterol and preventing chronic conditions such as heart disease and diabetes.

3) Rich in Vitamin C, they help maintain your skin and slow down aging.

4) They're also rich in antioxidants, which help protect your cells from damage and may help prevent chronic health problems.


Rutabaga Nutrition

It contains abundant amounts of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. A medium-sized rutabaga of about 386 grams (a little less than a pound) contains:

  • 143 calories
  • 33.3 grams of carbohydrates
  • 4.17 grams of protein, 0.618 grams of fat
  • 8.8 grams of fiber
  • and more than 10 vitamins and minerals.

How to Pick a Rutabaga?

If you want to buy this swede vegetable, you'll need to know how to spot a good one.

Choose roots that are too small or too large. (Image via Unsplash / Bekky Bekks)
Choose roots that are too small or too large. (Image via Unsplash / Bekky Bekks)

Look for firm, smooth, creamy white skin with no soft spots or cracks in it. Don't worry if it looks wrinkled and mottled—this is normal! The color of the skin doesn't indicate anything about the flavor or texture of your final dish.

In fact, it's best not to choose roots that are too small or too large. They're both more likely to have woody cores that will take longer to cook through (and may even get lost in your mash) than medium-sized roots.


How to Cook the Vegetable

Cooking rutabaga is pretty simple--boil, steam or roast it. Cooking time depends on the size of this vegetable, but it's usually between 30 minutes and an hour. It is best to just check the instructions on the package.

You can mash and puree the cooked swede vegetable in a variety of ways, and they're also excellent mashed potato alternatives. You could also make soup out of them if you're feeling especially creative (or if you just want a nice warm bowl).


Rutabaga is undoubtedly an underrated vegetable that deserves more attention. It's a great source of vitamins A and C, as well as iron, calcium, and fiber. You can eat it cooked or raw and enjoy it in many different ways!

Edited by Susrita Das