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The Health Benefits of Turnip Greens

By Sara Ipatenco

Turnip greens are a traditional Southern side dish, but they can also be served in salads or sauteed as a healthy accompaniment to pasta dishes or grilled meats. Adding turnip greens to your menu will increase your intake of several vitamins and minerals that you need for good health. Turnip greens may also reduce your risk of certain illnesses. Knowing what turnip greens have to offer may encourage you to give them a try.

Vitamin A

One of the most notable nutrients present in a serving of turnip greens is vitamin A. Vitamin A acts as an antioxidant in your body that serves a number of purposes. Vitamin A promotes healthy eyesight and may prevent certain age-related eye disorders as well. Eating vitamin A-rich foods may also help your body target and get rid of toxins and free radicals that can contribute to cancer. The recommended intake of vitamin A for adults is 10,000 international units. A 1-cup serving of cooked turnip greens supplies 10,980 international units of vitamin A, giving you more than 100 percent of the recommended amount.

Iron Content

Another important nutrient present in turnip greens is iron. You need iron because it is responsible for the formation and development of healthy red blood cells, which ensure that enough oxygen is circulated throughout your body. An iron deficiency can also lead to anemia, which is defined as a low red blood cell count. Anemia can cause fatigue, pale skin and breathlessness. The recommended intake of iron for adult men is 8 milligrams, and 18 milligrams for adult women. One cup of cooked turnip greens provides you with 1.15 milligrams of iron, or 14 percent of the RDI or men and 6 percent of the RDI for women.

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Calcium Content

A serving of turnip greens provides a good amount of calcium. The calcium in plant sources is an alternate way to ensure that you consume enough of this nutrient for the health of your bones and teeth. MedlinePlus.com adds that a diet high in calcium may prevent softening of the bones, bone fractures and osteoporosis. An adult needs 1,000 milligrams of calcium each day, and a 1-cup serving of cooked turnip greens will add 197 milligrams, or roughly 20 percent of your daily needs.

More Nutrients

Many more nutrients are in turnip greens that boost your overall health and help cut your risk of certain illnesses. A 1-cup serving of turnip greens provides less than 10 percent of your daily needs of magnesium, with 32 milligrams -- a mineral that helps your body absorb and use calcium. The same serving of turnip greens also contains 5 grams of fiber and 1.6 grams of protein. Turnip greens also supply potassium, vitamin C and vitamin K -- all nutrients that support the quality of your health.

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