Turnips taste different than potatoes; otherwise they have a lot in common. They’re both root vegetables that can be prepared in similar ways. Turnips and potatoes contain the same vitamins and minerals and you’ll get a boost of vitamin C from both of them. The main difference is that potatoes provide double the amount of four minerals and four vitamins, while turnips have more calcium.
One cup of sliced turnips has 36 calories, compared to 90 calories in the same portion of potatoes. Both vegetables have less than 1 gram of fat and 2 grams of fiber, but potatoes have 2 grams of protein, which is double the amount in turnips. Potatoes have 8 to 11 percent of the recommended daily intake of iron, magnesium, phosphorus, thiamin, niacin and vitamin B-6. Turnips only have half the amount of those nutrients.
The antioxidant action of vitamin C protects cells throughout your body from damage and inflammation. Vitamin C is also needed for the production of collagen. Collagen is a connective tissue that supports muscles and organs, and is responsible for keeping your skin firm and flexible. Both vegetables have 26 milligrams of vitamin C in 1 cup. If you’re pregnant or nursing, you need extra vitamin C, and pregnant women get 30 percent of their recommended daily value, while women who are breast feeding gain 21 percent. Otherwise 1 cup provides 35 percent of the daily intake for women and 29 percent for men.
Everyone needs folate to make normal blood cells and prevent anemia, but it’s an especially important nutrient for women. The creation of genetic material and the process of cell growth depends on folate, making it essential during periods of rapid growth, such as pregnancy and growth spurts through adolescence. Folate prevents birth defects of the spinal cord and brain, but only when taken during the first month of pregnancy. Adult men and women need 400 micrograms daily; pregnant women should get 600 micrograms each day. This is one nutrient that turnips and potatoes offer in about the same amount. One cup of turnips has 20 micrograms, or 5 percent of the recommended daily intake, while potatoes have 23 micrograms or 6 percent of the daily value.
Potassium is capable of carrying a positive electrical charge, so it works with negatively charged minerals to initiate muscle contraction and to create the electrical charges that stimulate nerves. In this role, potassium maintains normal blood pressure and a regular heartbeat. One cup of sliced potatoes provides 11 percent of the recommended daily intake of potassium, which is double the amount you’ll gain from turnips.
Calcium is the only nutrient that turnips have more of than potatoes. Calcium builds bones and maintains them through a process called remodeling that removes old or damaged bone and replaces it with new bone. Remodeling continues throughout your life span, so you need a constant supply of calcium to prevent osteoporosis. Calcium has other roles that are so critical your body will pull the mineral out of your bones if levels get low. These roles include stimulating muscle contraction and enabling communication between nerves. One cup of turnips provides 4 percent of the recommended daily intake of calcium; potatoes only have 1 percent.
Sandi Busch received a Bachelor of Arts in psychology, then pursued training in nursing and nutrition. She taught families to plan and prepare special diets, worked as a therapeutic support specialist, and now writes about her favorite topics – nutrition, food, families and parenting – for hospitals and trade magazines.