Root vegetables are the edible starchy tubers or roots of plants. They are wonderful sources of fiber and good carbohydrates for a healthy diet, not to mention they taste delicious. But they are often mistakenly associated with potatoes and labeled as “high-carb foods.”
Not All Root Vegetables are High-Carb
There are plenty of choices in the root vegetable family other than potatoes. One cup of potato provides 30 grams of carbs, but some root vegetables provide a lot less:
This veggie is bulbous and white with a purple color on top. It looks like a red onion, but without the layers. When cut open, it is entirely white inside. It usually tastes best if peeled before use. To serve, quarter the turnip and either roast, steam, boil or mash for a great tasting side dish to any meal. The leaves on a turnip are also edible and are commonly used in salads or as a side dish.
Carb comparison: 1 cup of turnip = 8 grams of carbs
This vegetable is a cousin of the turnip, and is sometimes known as the “yellow turnip.” It too is easy to prepare and is often used in stews and as a side dish. It is said that rutabagas are tastier than turnips when mashed for a side dish, but your taste buds can make that decision. It is a good source of Vitamin C, folate, and fiber.
Carb comparison: 1 cup of rutabaga = 15 grams of carbs
jicama This root veggie also resembles the turnip with its bulbous shape and white color. However, it has a more sweet and crisp, almost juicy taste. It can be eaten raw, and is excellent in salads, salsa, and on veggie platters. It is common in South American and Mexican dishes.
Carb comparison: 1 cup of jicama = 11 grams of carbs
Beetroot is known for its distinct ruby red color, but it actually can be found in many shades from white to purple. Beetroot or beets are commonly used in salads and have a fresh, almost nutty taste. This root vegetable can be boiled, steamed, roasted, or even pickled. It is best prepared by trimming off the leaves, quartering, and then cooking.
Carb comparison: 1 cup of beets = 17 grams of carbs
The Bottom Line
Root vegetables should be making a comeback among food lovers and health-conscious consumers. They are a great source of fiber and vitamins, and are much lower in carbs than you might expect. With a little creativity, these veggies are easy to incorporate into a healthy meal plan and lifestyle.
Sejal is a registered dietitian, a certified diabetes educator and she holds a masters degree in nutrition and health. Sejal was the project coordinator for the Veteran’s Administrations (VA) national weight loss program and previously worked for the VA hospital in Tampa, FL as a Spinal Cord Injury dietitian.
Sejal has had numerous clinical and community education experiences, including pediatric and intensive care nutrition support. She has also had the opportunity to teach nutrition courses at the community college level to students interested in pursuing health professions. One of her favorite areas of education is diabetes management.