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Turnips & Potassium

By Nicki Wolf

Turnips are a root vegetable, usually white with a purple hue at the top near the greens that poke out of the soil. This hearty vegetable can be eaten raw as a crisp, healthy snack or cooked in a variety of ways to serve as a nutritious side dish or recipe ingredient. Turnips are chock full of potassium, a mineral that is critical for your body's function.

Quantity and Daily Need

A 1-cup serving of raw turnip cubes provides you with 248 milligrams of potassium. The Institute of Medicine recommends that adults consume at least 4,700 milligrams a day, and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics states that most people eat less than half of this amount.

Purpose

The potassium in turnips serves an important purpose in the human body. This mineral aids in moving electricity throughout your body, which influences the manner in which your heart beats and muscles contract. It also impacts digestion and may play a role in bone health. An animal study published in the May 2011 issue of the "Journal of Bone and Mineral Metabolism" suggests that bones treated with a potassium solution are stronger than those that not treated with potassium. Human studies are needed to confirm this finding, but eating turnips as a complementary measure for bone strength cannot hurt you if you eat within safe potassium intake rates.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Approximately one million Americans suffer from inflammatory bowel disease, according to KidsHealth from Nemours. This condition is marked by intestinal inflammation, usually in the form of ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease. Turnips may be a smart addition to your diet when you have this condition, in part because of their potassium content. The University of Maryland Medical Center indicates that people with inflammatory bowel disease sometimes have low potassium levels; the folic acid in turnips is also helpful for people with this condition.

Considerations

While the potassium in turnips is overwhelmingly healthy, eating too many turnips or eating turnips in a diet already high in this mineral may cause pharmaceutical interactions. High intake of potassium may negatively affect the way ACE inhibitors that treat high blood pressure as well as some diuretics and antibiotics work in your body. Consult your physician or nutritionist about the potassium content in turnips if you take these medications and eat a lot of this vegetable.

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