There are a variety of root vegetables, from yams, beets, and carrots to turnips and potatoes. What are the differences between turnips and potatoes, and is it possible to substitute one for the other? We’ll compare turnips vs potatoes, discuss their differences in flavor, and break down the health benefits of each to help you plan a proper diet.
Creamy mashed potatoes are a favorite side dish to just about any entree, but these veggies are starchy. While turnips are a great alternative to the potato with fewer calories and carbohydrates, they lack the mineral content potatoes contain.
Which vegetable is better for your diet, and what’s the recommended daily intake? Unlike leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables, root vegetables such as turnips, rutabagas, sweet potatoes, and white potatoes are starches that break down glucose.
While there are many health benefits to both potatoes and turnips, understanding their differences is often confusing.
The Difference between Potatoes and Turnips
The USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) has a recommended weekly guideline for vegetables, and eating turnips or potatoes helps you reach this goal.
However, these veggies differ in taste and nutrients. The way to grow turnips and potatoes differs, as well. We explain the differences between these veggies and outline their health benefits.
Nutritional Difference between Potatoes and Turnips
We often think of some vegetable groups as being similar, but there is a difference between potatoes and turnips when it comes to nutrients, as well as being different from yams and sweet potatoes.
While potatoes are considered a part of the starchy vegetable subgroup, turnips are in the category of other vegetables, and both have their health pros and cons.
The nutritional value of turnips vs potatoes varies. While turnips have significantly lower calories than potatoes, the calories from both come from carbohydrates.
There are 4.2 grams of carbs in a cup of turnips, and a potato serving has over 13 grams of carbohydrates. Both foods contain dietary fiber, which is essential for digestive health. Potatoes contain 1 gram of fiber, while turnips have 1.2 grams of fiber.
Turnips are high in the antioxidant vitamin C, while potatoes contain more vitamin K for blood clotting. Still, both have a low glycemic index for minimal effect on blood sugar levels.
Potatoes contain more phosphorus, magnesium, and potassium, which is good for blood pressure and preventing heart disease. However, turnips have slightly more calcium.
Both roots contain vitamin B6, folate, niacin, manganese, folic acid, riboflavin and have roughly 1.1 grams of protein and no cholesterol.
There are benefits to consuming both turnips and potatoes, and it comes down to personal choice and your carb intake preference.
Flavor and Texture of Turnips vs Potatoes
While it’s vital to know which veggies are more nutritious than others, it’s just as important to understand how they taste when preparing dishes. What is the flavor and texture of the turnip vs potato, and are they easily exchangeable in recipes?
Turnips and Potatoes
Potatoes are starchy with a slightly dense and creamy texture and delicate skin. They range in size and color, with some being as small as only two inches in diameter, while others are large.
Some have gold or brown skins, while others are red. Their flavor is mild with a subtle sweetness, and they taste delicious mashed, boiled, fried, or steamed.
Turnips are not as starchy as potatoes, and they have a sweeter flavor, although cooking them simplifies the taste, making them similar to potatoes. This veggie is white and purple and resembles rutabaga. The texture of both potatoes and turnips is similar.
Best Substitute for Turnips
There are times when a substitute for turnips is necessary, whether your local market is out or you’re expecting guests for dinner who hate turnips. Fortunately, there are a few vegetables that are perfect replacements for turnip roots and turnip greens.
When thinking about turnip substitutes, there is no question in the rutabaga vs turnip debate. The best substitute for turnips is rutabagas, but there are a few other great alternatives if you don’t have any turnips on hand for your next recipe. Parsnips are ideal, but they have an earthy, nutty flavor and are sweeter than turnips.
Celery root is another option since it has a similar taste, and carrots are good candidates if you don’t like turnip’s bitter taste. If you are searching for a healthy substitute for turnip greens, consider using kale or Swiss chard.
If you have your own garden, turnips and potatoes are both fast growing vegetables in summer that are easy to grow and harvest. Planting turnips and potatoes with cucumbers is an excellent example of companion planting that keeps some unwanted bugs away from your veggies, too.
Using Low-Carb Veggies as a Substitute for Potatoes
If you’re concerned about the extra carbs in potatoes but miss the creamy texture of your favorite mashed potato side dish, look no further. Not only are turnips perfect as an alternative for different kinds of potatoes, but many other veggies work well as a substitute.
Can you substitute turnips for potatoes if you are on a low-carb diet? Fortunately, the answer is yes. Like potatoes, they are tasty baked, roasted, boiled or steamed, but have considerably fewer carbs per serving.
Another substitute for potatoes is celery root or celeriac. This veggie is great mashed or roasted, just like potatoes, and has fewer carbohydrates. Other healthy choices include rutabaga, kohlrabi, and cauliflower.
Ways to Store Turnips and Potatoes
Nutrition is not the only difference between potatoes and turnips. These root vegetables also store differently, and knowing the best way to keep them ensures they stay as fresh as possible.
If you enjoy eating turnip greens, store these by removing them from the top of the root and washing them under cold, running water. Soak them in a bit of water and two tablespoons of salt for five minutes to draw out insects.
Rinse the greens again, pat them dry with a paper towel and place them in a sealable storage bag in the refrigerator for up to five days.
To store turnip roots, wrap them in a damp towel, place them into a plastic bag, and keep them in the refrigerator crisper drawer for up to two weeks.
For long-term storage, fill a bin halfway with damp sand and set the roots upside down into the sand so they don’t touch and cover them completely. Place the bin in a cool and well-ventilated area and use them within six months.
To keep potatoes fresh, store them in a dry and cool area of your kitchen or pantry. However, do not keep them in the fridge since the extra-cool temperatures turn the starch into sugar. It’s best to store potatoes in the root cellar or another dark place without washing them first. However, there is a quick way to clean potatoes as soon as you are ready to use them.
For storage, place them in a large bowl, basket, or paper bag and keep them in an area away from onions which causes extra moisture and faster spoilage. If you notice that your potatoes are starting to sprout, planting old potatoes is easy and you can do it in a container or the garden.
If you have leftover turnips and potatoes after cooking, place them in an airtight container and refrigerate them for up to five days.
We’re all aware that getting a good dose of vegetables each day is essential to a healthy lifestyle, but understanding which veggies are better than others is often confusing.
Turnips and potatoes differ in vitamins and nutrients, and they are interchangeable in many recipes.
Now that you know the differences between turnips vs potatoes and ways to incorporate them into your favorite recipes, why not share our potato and turnip guide with your family and friend circle on Pinterest and Facebook?