By Jen, Loweree MS, RD, CDCES
Root vegetables grow underground (like sweet potatoes, parsnips, and bulbs like onions and garlic). Because roots absorb the water and nutrients that feed the plants, these vegetables are packed with vitamins and minerals.
We want to pay attention when eating certain roots, such as potatoes, as some have higher starch/carbohydrate content. Because of the higher starch content, these roots raise blood sugar higher than other, less starchy, roots like turnips.
Beets– These vibrant red veggies owe their color to their betalain content, supplying anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits. Beets also have a high nitrate content, which our body converts into nitric oxide, helping to improve blood flow and blood pressure.
Parsnips- These pale carrot-looking roots supply a great source of folate, potassium, and vitamin C source. They are high in both soluble and insoluble fibers. Parsnips are considered starchy vegetables like potatoes. These work great as a roasted vegetable mixed with carrots and sweet potatoes.
Turnips-like parsnips, turnips are a great source of potassium, vitamin C, and fiber. Turnips can be used like a potato by baking or boiling and adding to soups, stews, or casseroles.
Jicama- This unsuspecting vegetable has a crisp texture like a water chestnut. It is packed full of fiber, vitamin C, and potassium. Jicama is high in inulin fiber, a prebiotic fiber supplying nutrients for our gut bacteria. This veggie can be eaten raw like a carrot, added to a salad, or mixed into a stir fry with other vegetables.
Most root vegetables work great roasted. Combine different varieties, such as carrots, beets, and parsnips to make a colorful side dish. Toss the vegetables in olive oil with desired seasonings and roast at 350 degrees for around 45 minutes. Test tenderness with a fork to determine when it is done.
Next time you’re at the store, consider picking up a new root vegetable and trying it.