Kohlrabi. Looks mysterious and intimidating? Try it with me: coal-ROB-ee. See, that wasn’t so hard. If you are also afraid to try new foods, know that kohlrabi is delicious vegetable that’s really easy to prepare. On top of that, there are a lot of kohlrabi health benefits you need to know that make this vegetable an incredibly potent superfood.
The nutrition facts are clear: Just one cup of kohlrabi exceeds 100% of your daily vitamin C needs. That’s even more than oranges! Studies have even found that the phytochemicals in kohlrabi help it fight major health problems like diabetes, cancer, and high cholesterol. Let’s take an in-depth look at kohlrabi and why you should be eating it.
What is Kohlrabi?
Kohlrabi is a member of the powerhouse Brassica family that also includes Brussels sprouts, broccoli, kale, and cauliflower. The Eastern Europe native goes by the plant name Brassica oleracea, and is also sometimes called turnip cabbage or German turnip.
Although kohlrabi is not widely grown commercially, consumers are quickly catching on to this potent vegetable. Kohlrabi can now be found outside of farmer’s markets at many grocery stores.
The edible perennial plant likely contains half greens and half bulb, and it looks like a mix between a turnip and a cabbage. The stem or bulb can be purple, white, or green, depending of the variety of kohlrabi. The kohlrabi leaves taste like a mild collard green, while the kohlrabi bulb tastes more like a broccoli stem; however, it is sweeter and lighter.
The most common types of kohlrabi varieties include Grand Duke, Purple Vienna, White Vienna, Purple Danube, White Danube, and Gigante, or the Superschmelz.
Kohlrabi Nutrition Facts
Kohlrabi is a nutritional dynamo. It is a good source of carbohydrates and protein, and it contains 19% of your recommended daily intake of fiber in just one cup of kohlrabi. Besides that, a cup of kohlrabi contains over 100% of your recommended intake of daily vitamin C. This vegetable is also a good source of potassium, vitamin B6, copper, and manganese. Kohlrabi also contains vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin K, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin B3, vitamin B5, folate, choline, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and selenium.
The following is a comprehensive kohlrabi nutrition chart with information for one cup of raw kohlrabi, or 135 grams of this vegetable.
* Source: SELF Nutrition Data
Kohlrabi Health Benefits
This little vegetable appears to be the ultimate food remedy. Kohlrabi health benefits are seemingly endless. For instance, kohlrabi is a perfect vegetable for just about any weight loss regimen. The vitamin C in kohlrabi may also help enhance the body’s fat burning capabilities. Here are three more ways that kohlrabi can benefit your health.
1. May Decrease C-Reactive Protein
The liver produces C-reactive protein, which is a blood marker for inflammation in the body. A study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2005 found that high consumption of carotenoid-rich fruit and vegetables can reduce plasma C-reactive protein. The vegetable intake would include kohlrabi, red cabbage, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts. Lower levels of C-reactive protein decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease and other health issues related to inflammation.
2. Anti-Cancer Properties
Cruciferous vegetables like kohlrabi have a long history in cancer research and many studies have shown their potential to stop the growth of cancer cells, including tumors of the colon, liver, cervix, breast, lung, and endometrium. Cruciferous vegetables contain sulfur-containing compounds called glucosinolates that support the production and detoxification of isothiosyanates and indole-3-carbinol. It is the glucosinolates that help reduce the risk of colon, lung, and breast cancer. Studies have also found that purple kohlrabi contains more glucosinolates than the white variety.
3. May Reduce Risk of Diabetes
Is kohlrabi good for diabetes? About 10% of Americans have diabetes, and another 20% experience pre-diabetes. Obesity is considered a major risk factor in type 2 diabetics. Kohlrabi contains lots of fiber and water, and this helps reduce energy intake and enhance satiety, which can potentially lower body weight. For those with diabetes, including more vegetables like kohlrabi may lessen your need for blood sugar-regulating medications. A study of 2,332 Finnish men published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2013 found that men with higher intake of fruit and vegetables may decrease type 2 diabetes risk. Cruciferous vegetables like kohlrabi, kale, and broccoli were included in the study.
How to Cook Kohlrabi
Kohlrabi greens can be cooked similarly to kale or turnip greens. The bulb can be steamed, boiled, sautéed, or roasted. Kohlrabi also makes a great addition to soups, stir-fries, and stews. You can also eat it raw or shredded in salads or with dips like hummus.
Let’s take a look at a couple of recipes to get you started on your journey with kohlrabi. These are green kohlrabi recipes that will have you using kohlrabi on a daily basis.
1. Curried Cauliflower and Kohlrabi Soup
- 1 head of cauliflower, cut into medium pieces
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil or ghee
- 2 medium kohlrabi, peeled and diced
- 1 leek, chopped, with green and white parts separated
- 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
- 1 2-inch knob of ginger, peeled, washed, and grated
- 1 2-inch knob of turmeric, peeled, washed, and grated
- 2 tablespoons curry powder
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1 teaspoon ground rosemary
- 1-2 teaspoons cayenne pepper (optional)
- Juice and zest of 1 lemon (divided)
- 5 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
- Meat from 1 rotisserie chicken, pulled
- (2) 13.5-ounce cans of coconut milk
- 1 tablespoon coconut sugar (optional)
- In a large pot, heat the oil or ghee over medium heat until it is melted. Add the cauliflower, kohlrabi, and white parts of the leek, and sauté for five to eight minutes, while stirring often.
- Increase the heat to medium-high, and add the salt, oregano, rosemary, turmeric, ginger, curry, chicken broth, and optional cayenne pepper. Cover and bring the soup to a low boil.
- Once the soup has boiled, stir in the lemon juice, garlic, green parts of the leek, coconut milk, chicken, and optional coconut sugar. Reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 10 minutes. Taste the soup, and add more salt if necessary, and simmer for an additional 10 minutes.
- Remove pot from the heat, and stir in the lemon zest. Allow the soup to rest for five minutes before serving. Store the soup in Mason jars. The flavor will continue to improve over a few days.
2. Kohlrabi Fritters with Avocado-Dill Sauce
- 1 ripe avocado
- 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
- Juice and zest of 1 organic lemon
- 1/4 cup finely minced dill
- 2 large kohlrabi bulbs
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 large onion
- 4 organic eggs
- 1 teaspoon course sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/2 cup arrowroot flour, plus more if needed
- Coconut oil, for frying
- Cut the avocado in half, and remove the pit, scoop out the flesh, and place it in a food processor. Add the yogurt, blend until smooth, and stir in lemon juice and zest, garlic powder, and dill. Set aside.
- Peel the kohlrabi with a sharp knife, and grate the kohlrabi and onion with a box grater.
- Wrap the grated onion and kohlrabi with a large clean dishtowel, and twist and squeeze both ends to remove excess moisture. Place the mixture in a large bowl, and add garlic powder, pepper, salt, eggs, and cayenne, and mix with a spoon until well combined. Stir in arrowroot, and if there is still visible liquid, add more arrowroot to absorb. Stir to combine.
- In a large skillet, heat coconut oil over medium-high heat. Scoop about one-third cup of kohlrabi mixture, form patties by hand, and fry for about two to three minutes per side. Repeat this until the entire mixture has been used. Season with salt, and serve with the avocado dill sauce.
Although there are countless kohlrabi health benefits, there are some things to keep in mind about this delicious vegetable. It is a good idea to consult with your doctor if you have a food allergy to other cruciferous vegetables.
Allergies to kohlrabi are not common, and, according to Web MD, it’s likely safe when consumed in food amounts. However, sometimes the goitrogens in kohlrabi may affect the thyroid gland; therefore, people with thyroid disorders should use caution regarding kohlrabi.
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