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The Surprising Health Benefits of Kohlrabi

Kohlrabi is a cruciferous vegetable with a bulb shape and is related to the cabbage family. Kohlrabi has numerous nutritional benefits, including high fibre, potassium, vitamins C, and beta carotene. These nutrients promote weight loss, boost gastrointestinal health, build immunity, and manage blood pressure.

The appearance of kohlrabi is much like cabbage or broccoli and is a vegetable of the summer season. All parts of the vegetables are edible, like the stem, leaf, and bulb. The bulb is low on calories and goes well in soups. It can be sauteed or roasted. The bulb’s texture and taste are similar to a radish. Stems and leaves used in salads are crunchy and sweet.

Kohlrabi resembles a turnip; therefore, it is also called a German turnip. It is scientifically known as Brassica oleracea var. gongylodes L. and is a biennial vegetable. The primary edible part of kohlrabi is the swollen stem. However, the whole nutrient-rich kohlrabi is edible, including the leaves. Also, the smaller the bulb, the sweeter the kohlrabi.

You can find this small bulbous vegetable in farmers’ markets, natural grocers, and Asian grocery stores. Historically, kohlrabi has played a role in German cuisine for hundreds of years. And in recent years, it has become a vegetable staple in northern India. 

Nutritional Profile of Kohlrabi

As per USDA, 100 grams of kohlrabi offers the following nutrients:

Calories: 27 kCalProtein:1.7 gCarbohydrates: 6.2 gFibre: 3.6 gCalcium: 24 mgMagnesium: 19 mgPhosphorus: 46 mgPotassium: 350 mgSodium: 20 mgVitamin C: 62 mgBeta carotene: 22µgFolate: 16 µg

Health Benefits of Kohlrabi

1. Aids in Weight Loss

Kohlrabi is low on calories and high in dietary fibre. Fibre takes time to break down and slows digestion, thus keeping a person satiated for a more extended period.

Additionally, kohlrabi is rich in phytochemicals like glucosinolates and carotenoids that help control fat accumulation. For instance, research shows that kohlrabi sprout extract’s antioxidant and anti-adipogenic effects potentially manage or treat obesity.

2. Improves Digestion

Like other cruciferous vegetables, the rich dietary fibre in kohlrabi improves digestive health and helps move your bowels. As a result, it reduces constipation, cramping and bloating. With nearly 5 grams of fibre in every cup, kohlrabi supports your gastrointestinal health while maximising nutrient uptake efficiency. 

3. Blood-Pressure Friendly

A cup of kohlrabi provides more potassium than a medium banana, making it beneficial for managing blood pressure. The potassium functions as a vasodilator, reducing the stress and strain on the cardiovascular system.

As a result, it lowers the tension of blood vessels and arteries. Moreover, kohlrabi ensures an increased potassium intake and decreased sodium intake. For example, you receive around 473 milligrams of potassium and only 27 milligrams of sodium from one cup of kohlrabi.

4. Rich in Anthocyanin

A study shows that kohlrabi has higher anthocyanin content, particularly in the purple kohlrabi cultivar. In addition, research shows that a dietary intake of anthocyanin can reduce the risk of heart attack and arterial stiffness. 

5. Improves Eye Vision

Kohlrabi has a 22µg of beta carotene per 100 grams. Vitamin A helps improve vision, and beta carotene is present in kohlrabi, which converts carotene into vitamin A.

Dry eyes are a significant problem. Vitamin A or beta carotene helps keep the cornea moistened and protects from ulcers, blurry vision, or vision loss. Beta carotene also helps in enhancing night vision. A research report indicates that the beta carotene in kohlrabi acts as an antioxidant compound in the ocular area.

6. Boost Immunity

One research concludes that kohlrabi is rich in vitamin C, which helps in promoting immunity. Therefore, including kohlrabi in your diet enables you to meet the daily recommended values of vitamin C.

Intake of adequate amounts of vitamin C ensures the production of cytokines and lymphocytes to fight infections. Moreover, vitamin C has many beneficial effects on the skin. For example, it can boost collagen biosynthesis, promote skin hydration, and protect skin against UV radiation.

7. Improves Bone Strength

As kohlrabi is high in calcium and magnesium, it contributes to stronger bones. Bones have about 99% of the calcium in our body. Calcium provides strength to the skeleton and structure. Calcium is the mineral that makes them hard and strong for life processes. Magnesium increases bone density, strengthening bone and lessening the risk of bone fractures or osteoporosis. 

The HealthifyMe Note

Kohlrabi has several benefits due to its rich nutritional profile. For example, it can treat obesity, strengthen the bones, improve gut health and vision and boost immunity. However, you can club it with more nutrient-rich healthy foods to get extra benefits from this vegetable.

How to Cook and Eat Kohlrabi?

Kohlrabi should be thoroughly washed under running water to remove any soil, dirt, or chemical from it. Next, discard the thick layered outer covering of the vegetable with a sharp knife. Smaller kohlrabi has a slightly sweet taste while it tastes reddish on maturing.

There are several methods to cook kohlrabi, including boiling, steaming, roasting, mashing, or frying. You can eat kohlrabi raw or cook it in different forms. For example, kohlrabi can be chopped down into slices and eaten with a bit of dressing. Or roast them and serve with spaghetti, rice or meat. 

Healthy Recipes Using Kohlrabi

1. Roasted Kohlrabi

Serves: 2

Preparation time: 25 minutes

Ingredients

Kohlrabi bulb:2Olive oil: ½ tbspGarlic minced:½Cheese: ¼ cup grated (optional)Salt and pepper as per taste

Method of Preparation

Preheat the oven to 230℃Cut the kohlrabi into small circular slices.Add garlic, salt, olive oil, and pepper to a bowl. Further, add kohlrabi slices to the mixture.Now spread the kohlrabi in a single layer on a baking sheet.Bake it for around 20 mins, open the oven, sprinkle some cheese, and again bake it for about 4 to 5 minutes and serve immediately.

2. Kohlrabi Apple Salad

Serves: 2

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Ingredients

 Kohlrabi: 2 cups Apple: 1 cup Pumpkin seeds: 2 tsp Olive oil: 2 tsp Lemon zest: 1 tsp Lemon juice: 1 tsp Pepper: ½ tsp Salt: to taste

 Method of Preparation

Add the kohlrabi, apple pieces, and pumpkin seeds to a bowl.Add one teaspoon of olive oil, lemon zest, juice, pepper powder, and salt.Stir everything nicely, up and down.Kohlrabi apple salad is ready to serve. 

3. Knol Kohl Curry

Serves: 2

Preparation time: 35-40 minutes

Ingredients

Kohlrabi: 250gToor dal: ½ cupTurmeric: ¼ tspUrad dal: 1 tspCumin seeds: 1 tspDry Chillies: 3Curry leaves: 6-7Mustard seeds: 1 tspChilli powder: 1 tspSalt: 1 tsp

Method of Preparation

Wash and soak toor dal for 30-40 minutes.Pressure cook dal with water, pinch salt for 4-5 whistles and mash little.Wash, peel and roughly chop kohlrabi into thick chunks.Heat oil in a pan. Once hot, add mustard seeds and cumin seeds and let them splutter.Add curry leaves, dry chilli and fry for a minute.Add chopped kohlrabi and cook until soft.Add cooked dal along with water, turmeric, chilli powder, and salt and bring it to a boil.Simmer for 5-7 minutes or until desired consistency is obtained.Serve it with brown rice or chapati.

The HealthifyMe Note

Kohlrabi has different names in Indian Cuisines, such as Ganti Kobi in Odisha, Monji in Kashmir, Knol Khol in south India, and navakhol in Maharashtra, Su hao in Bengal, and Nulkol in Tamil Nadu. You can boil, steam, roast or mash for consumption. It is versatile and easy to cook, and you can add it to various healthy recipes to reap maximum benefits.

Potential Side Effects of Kohlrabi

Kohlrabi has no allergic effects on its own. However, it is a cruciferous vegetable containing thiocyanates which can block iodine absorption. Therefore, people suffering from thyroid problems should consult their doctor before taking any supplements or taking them in raw form. In addition, cruciferous vegetables can sometimes interact with medications like blood thinners and become harmful. 

Consumption of cruciferous vegetables like kohlrabi in excess can lead to gastrointestinal discomfort. It is rich in fibre, which takes a longer time to digest and overeating such vegetables can lead to problems like nausea, bloating, and diarrhoea. Though the exact mechanism remains unclear, you must avoid kohlrabi in the cases of flatulence and abdominal discomfort. 

How to Store Kohlrabi

You have to store the leaves separate from the bulb. The leaves can be refrigerated for three to four days and the bulbs for several weeks. Seal the kohlrabi in perforated plastic bags, glass or Tupperware containers and store it in the refrigerator. Do not freeze, and you can keep them fresh by refrigerating them for two weeks. Always choose heavy kohlrabi that is free of cracks. The leaves, if attached, should be dark. 

Conclusion

Kohlrabi is a delicious, versatile cruciferous vegetable. The whole vegetable is edible, including the leaves and bulbous stem. It offers numerous health benefits, such as aiding in weight loss, lowering blood pressure, helping in improving vision and healthy bones, and enhancing satiety and glycemic control. In addition, kohlrabi is an excellent source of fibre and can help prevent constipation, making your bowel movement easier to manage. However, with lots of benefits, it has side effects, including bloating, gas, or diarrhoea if taken in excess. 

Frequently Asked Questions( FAQS)

Q. What are the benefits of eating kohlrabi?

A. Kohlrabi is high in fibre which helps in weight loss, keeps the gut healthy, and reduces gastrointestinal problems like constipation and diarrhoea. Fibre present in kohlrabi helps maintain a healthy bowel, and the presence of vitamin C in the vegetable helps in building immunity. Additionally, it has a good amount of potassium and magnesium, which help in healthy bones and muscles. Apart from that, kohlrabi is rich in beta carotene, which helps in promoting good eye vision.

Q. Can I eat kohlrabi raw?

A. Kohlrabi can be eaten raw or cooked. Edible parts of kohlrabi include kohlrabi stems, suitable in sauteed form. In addition, you can use raw kohlrabi leaves in salads, decorations, and bulbs as a stuffing in meat and vegetable recipes.

Q. Does kohlrabi reverse diabetes?

A. Kohlrabi is rich in antioxidants that help reduce diabetes by lessening oxidative stress. Moreover, it has a low glycemic index suitable for people with diabetes. In addition, kohlrabi has an anti-inflammatory effect that can help reduce the type 2 incidence of diabetes. A good amount of fibre also does not raise blood sugar levels instantly, which can also aid in reducing the effect of diabetes.

Q. Does kohlrabi make you gassy?

A. Eating kohlrabi in large quantities can cause bloating, gas, or even worsen diarrhoea. In addition, the fibre can lead to bloating as fibre takes a very long time to digest and break down. So if you have issues related to gastrointestinal problems like bloating or gas, you should avoid consuming it in raw form. 

Q. Is kohlrabi high in iron?

A. No, one cup of kohlrabi gives only 0.54 mg of iron. However, it has several other nutrients that make it beneficial.

Q.Can you overeat kohlrabi?

A. No, excess of anything is harmful. Kohlrabi is rich in fibres which can lead to gastrointestinal problems like bloating, diarrhoea or vomiting. Hyperkalemia can occur when potassium intake is very high, which can lead to heart attacks. Kohlrabi is rich in potassium and can lead to such symptoms if taken in excess. Additionally, it is a cruciferous vegetable that can block the intake of iodine.

Q. Does kohlrabi have vitamin K?

A. Kohlrabi has no vitamin k in it but is a hub of other vitamins, including Beta carotene vitamins, potassium, calcium and magnesium. It helps promote weight loss, lower blood pressure, and helps in building the immune system.

Q. Is kohlrabi high in carbs?

A. No, kohlrabi has low carbohydrates and is even used as a low-carb diet food because it has low carbohydrate intake and a lot of fibre which helps in weight loss and helps keep a person satiated for a longer period. However, in many dishes, kohlrabi can be used as a perfect replacement for potatoes as it resembles potato in taste and can be low in carbs.

Q. Are kohlrabi leaves nutritious?

A. Kohlrabi leaves are entirely edible and a good source of fibre. However, most of the nutrition is in the bulb. Leaves can be eaten as a part of salad and have antioxidants in them, which can help with free radicals and can be helpful in skin problems, heart diseases, and a healthy gut. The presence of vitamin C can help in immune-boosting properties and fights inflammation, while the presence of fibres aids in gut health. Also, leaves are suitable for garnishing, like the leaves of lettuce.

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