Top 10 Root Veggies to Replace Grains
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For centuries, root vegetables have been a staple of the human diet. They are rich in vitamins and minerals, including magnesium, potassium, iron, and calcium. On the other hand, Grains can be low in certain nutrients such as folate and fiber, for example. So instead of replacing grains with root vegetables, we should instead replace them with their more nutrient-dense counterparts like kale or sweet potatoes to ensure that our bodies get all the nutrients they need rather than just one type.
Root vegetables are a great way to get more nutrients into your diet. These root vegetables can be eaten raw or cooked in various ways.
Root vegetables have been a mainstay in many South American and Asian cuisines for thousands of years. Indeed, records reveal that root vegetables like sweet potatoes were used in traditional medicine over 5,000 years ago, and they’ve been helping undernourished people all across the globe ever since.
Vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, and dietary fiber are all found in starchy vegetables, which are also diverse, affordable, and simple to prepare. In addition, strong evidence shows that root vegetables may aid in the prevention of cancer, diabetes, obesity, and inflammatory conditions such as heart disease and arthritis.
There are several advantages to substituting grains (particularly refined grains) in your diet with root vegetables. To begin with, all root vegetables are inherently gluten-free, but many grains are not, particularly the most popular types like wheat. In addition, root vegetables are a wonderful carbohydrate option since gluten may cause digestive difficulties and even autoimmune responses in some individuals.
Benefits of Root Vegetables
All vegetables that grow underground are classified as root vegetables, commonly known as tubers or starchy vegetables. “A fleshy expanded root of a plant used as a vegetable, such as a carrot, rutabaga, or beet,” says the dictionary.
While not all root vegetables are tubers (which are classified as geophytes or plants with their growth point below the soil), the word “tuber” is often used to designate a variety of root vegetables. Many bulbs, corms, and rhizomes are other vegetables that we designate as root vegetables. Potatoes, sunchokes, and yams are examples of vegetables that are not roots yet grow underground.
What exactly is a root vegetable? Let’s have a look at some of the most often asked questions concerning various varieties of root vegetables:
- Are potatoes considered to be root vegetables? Yes! They are one of the world’s most popular root vegetables. Is a sweet potato considered a root vegetable? Yes, absolutely. Most people regard all forms of potatoes to be root vegetables, including Yukon, sweet, purple, red, etc.
- Is it true that an onion is a root vegetable? Because onions, garlic, ginger, and shallots are bulbs that grow underground, most people consider them root vegetables. Garlic, onions, leeks, chives, scallions, and shallots are all members of the Allium vegetable family, containing garlic, onions, leeks, chives, scallions, and shallots.
- Is broccoli a root vegetable or a leafy green? Broccoli is a member of the Brassica plant family and is classified as a cruciferous vegetable.
- Is cucumber considered a root vegetable? Like melons, pumpkins, and summer squash, cucumbers grow above ground and are related to other vegetables in the Cucurbits plant family.
Potatoes, beets, parsnips, carrots, celeriac, sweet potatoes, fennel, Jerusalem artichokes, jicama, yams, radishes, and turnips are all examples of root vegetables. Even while we think of turmeric, garlic, and ginger as spices, they are all root vegetables.
Other less popular root vegetables include batata, arrowroot, boniato, burdock root, taro, daikon, water chestnuts, and cassava, at least in the United States and many Western nations.
Root vegetables are unprocessed, natural sources of complex carbs, antioxidants, and essential elements. Furthermore, they contain fewer calories, have a lower glycemic index, and cause fewer digestive or inflammatory problems than many kinds of cereal. Root vegetables are noteworthy because they act as “store organs” for plants, storing energy in the form of carbs. Unlike other fresh vegetables, they may be kept in a cold, dark spot like a basement for up to a month.
While the specific nutrient value varies by kind, most root vegetables provide between 50–100 calories and three or more grams of fiber per 12 cup cooked meal. As a result, they’re a nutrient-dense option and a natural way to add carbohydrates and sweetness to your diet.
The Top 10 Root Vegetables
1. Yams/Sweet Potatoes
Most people’s first choice for a delectable root vegetable with a wide range of applications is this. Sweet potatoes include a lot of vitamin A (one of the greatest sources on the planet), potassium, vitamin B5, and vitamin C, as well as fiber and slow-absorbing starch. Chlorogenic acid and anthocyanins are two antioxidants/phytonutrients found in them. Despite its name, sweet potatoes have a lower glycemic index than typical white potatoes, which helps to keep blood sugar levels stable.
Did you know that there are over 200 different types of yams? So what’s the difference between sweet potatoes and yams? Sweet potatoes have fewer calories and more antioxidants than yams, but yams have more potassium. Both have a similar flavor and texture, so they’re a good match.
2. Yukon (White) or Russet Potatoes
White potatoes may have a terrible reputation, but they really contain many antioxidants and minerals. According to research, potatoes are the biggest source of vegetable phenolics and antioxidants in the American diet.
Potato nutrition advantages include a high potassium content, which is essential for healthy bones and heart health. Even more than bananas and sweet potatoes, potatoes may help minimize your risk of dangerously low potassium levels. Every potato has roughly 20% or more of your daily potassium requirements.
White potatoes are especially high in manganese, which is crucial for bone and nerve health (approximately 22 percent of your daily intake in one potato). When it comes to portion size, consider potatoes to be different from fresh veggies; thus, aim for 12 cups to 112 cups a day. It would be best if you also minimize your consumption of processed potatoes and salt. Eat the skins and simply gently fry them to retain the potassium and other nutrients – no deep-fried French fries!
Carrots are one of the most widely consumed vegetables globally, and they may be consumed raw, cooked, or juiced. Carotenoids, which are recognized for protecting the eyes and skin, give carrots and carrot juice their distinctive orange hue. Carrots also include the antioxidants lycopene, lutein, and zeaxanthin. In addition, carrots have significant quantities of vitamin A, vitamins C, D, E, and K, as well as magnesium, potassium, and calcium.
Parsnips, which are related to carrots, parsley, and celery, provide many of the same health advantages as celery, carrots, and parsley. Dietary fiber, folate, potassium, and vitamin C are all abundant in them. Three grams of dietary fiber are included in roughly 12 cups of cooked parsnips, which is around 12% of the daily fiber requirement. Soluble fiber is abundant in parsnips, associated with a lower risk of diabetes and high blood cholesterol. This same-sized serving also contains around 11% of your daily folate, which is vital for energy, metabolism, nervous system health, DNA synthesis, and the creation of red blood cells.
Because of its high antioxidant content, particularly the unique phytonutrient betalain, beets provide a plethora of health advantages. Beets had the greatest antioxidant content and oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) values among 27 regularly eaten vegetables in the United States, along with broccoli and peppers. According to some data, beets may help you recover faster from exercise and increase your endurance during athletic performance. Beets contain nitrates, which the body readily absorbs and utilizes for muscle healing, enhanced circulation, reduced inflammation, and greater athletic performance.
Supplementing with the sort of nitrates found in beets has been shown to help athletes cut minutes off their race times while also reducing body stress. Beets also have a natural alkalizing and detoxifying effect on the body and support hormonal balance.
Turnips belong to the cruciferous vegetable family, which includes cancer-fighting plants including broccoli, collard greens, cabbage, kale, and Brussels sprouts. Like other cruciferous vegetables, turnips and turnip greens contain indoles, a kind of phytonutrient that has been shown to lower your risk of cancer, particularly cancers of the prostate, lungs, stomach, and colon. In addition, they’re a heart-healthy meal, high in calcium, magnesium, and potassium, and they help keep blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglycerides in check.
Because rutabagas are a hybrid between cabbage and turnips, they have many of the same health advantages. They’re rich in fiber and a good source of vitamin C, providing around 47% of your daily need. They’re also rich in zinc, which helps prevent zinc deficiency and has a role in immunological health, cognitive function, mood control, metabolism, and protection from physiological stress. When roasted and caramelized, they have a similar flavor to turnips and white potatoes.
8. Butternut Squash
Butternut squash, which is strong in beta-carotene, is delicious and beneficial to the immune system. In general, the greater the beta-carotene concentration in veggies, the deeper the orange color.
Beta-carotene, like other carotenoids, may assist increase cell-to-cell communication, which can help stop malignant tumor development and reduce toxicity. Roasted butternut squash is delicious, but it may also be used in baked dishes to replace sugar, butter, and dairy.
9. Squash in the Winter
Like the closely related butternut squash, winter squash contains antioxidants such as alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, and beta-cryptoxanthin. In addition, because they protect the cornea, macula, and retina from injury, they are considered crucial for eye health and keeping vision into old age.
Winter and butternut squashes both have a lot of starch in their cell walls, implying they have many polysaccharides. Pectins and other starch-related components in these polysaccharides have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-diabetic activities.
10. Artichokes de Jérusalem
Cooked Jerusalem artichokes (also known as “sunchokes”) give 10 grams of fiber per cup portion, along with three grams of protein and just 100 calories. They’re also high in vitamin A (about 25% of your daily requirements per serving), iron, and potassium. In fact, Jerusalem artichokes are one of the greatest plant sources of iron, providing 28 percent of your daily requirements, and are an excellent method to promote nerve health, red blood cell production, anemia prevention, and a healthy metabolism.
1. Include complex carbohydrates and starch in your diet
Roots and tubers are key sources of energy because they contain starch. While the typical person eats much more carbohydrates than is necessary, many individuals feel and perform best when they ingest a reasonable amount of carbohydrates from natural sources.
Starchy root vegetables are an excellent source of fiber and minerals, complex carbohydrates, and low sugar. This is particularly true if you’re an athlete, a youngster, trying to acquire weight, or if you exercise often. Starchy vegetables may also assist in satisfying “carb cravings” or a sweet desire without overloading your system with sugar or inflammatory refined grains.
What if you eat a low-carbohydrate diet? What low-carb root veggies are there? The Carbohydrate content of root vegetables is often greater than that of leafy greens or cruciferous vegetables. However, because root vegetables are strong in fiber and include some natural sugars in the form of starch, they are considered low glycemic index foods absorbed slowly. If you want to include them in your low-carb diet, parsnips, carrots, beets, rutabaga, and celeriac are some of the greatest low-carb root vegetable alternatives.
High-fiber meals help you feel fuller by staying longer in your digestive system. Polysaccharides, which are abundant in plant foods and have been proven to have a variety of biological actions, including anti-carcinogenic, anticoagulant, immune-stimulant, and antioxidant properties, are part of their fiber. A high-fiber diet not only helps to avoid inflammation and illness, but it also aids digestion and prevents IBS, as well as naturally easing constipation.
While many grains, particularly refined grains, and low-fiber flour products, are known as “fast carbohydrates” that boost blood sugar quickly, root vegetables are known as “slow-burning carbs.” Many significant studies, including one published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2012, show that eating more root vegetables is linked to a lower risk of diabetes.
3. Vitamins A and C are abundant in this food
Root vegetables are one of the finest sources of carotenoid antioxidants, as well as vitamins A and C. Sweet potatoes, carrots, beets, and other root vegetables are strong in beta-carotene, a precursor to active vitamin A, which is important for reducing inflammation, maintaining skin and eye health, and combating free radical damage. In addition, vitamin A and vitamin C meals both help the immune system by reducing inflammation, which is at the basis of many chronic illnesses such as cancer and heart disease.
We get two forms of vitamin A from our food: provitamin A and provitamin A. “Provitamin A,” a sort of carotenoid antioxidant found in root vegetables and other colorful fruits and vegetables, is a type of carotenoid antioxidant that the body converts to retinol once the meal is consumed. To be used by the body, beta-carotene, a form of carotenoid found predominantly in plants, must first be converted to active vitamin A.
4. Can Assist You In Losing Weight
One of the best ways to lose weight quickly and easily? Increase your fiber consumption. While you may be reluctant to eat more root vegetables since they’re starchy and higher in carbohydrates than other vegetables, their fiber may help you lose weight by filling you up. In addition, most root vegetables have fewer calories and a lower glycemic index than grains, which means they won’t raise your blood sugar as soon or as dramatically.
The fiber in starchy vegetables slows glucose (sugar) release, which is vital for energy and insulin balance. When taken with a balanced meal, Starchy veggies may help regulate appetite and postpone hunger signals, which is beneficial for weight loss, decreasing cravings, and lowering the risk of insulin resistance.
5. Assist in the maintenance of healthy skin and eyes
Consider eating more root vegetables if you want healthy, glowing skin; many are high in beta-carotene and vitamin C, which helps grow and protect skin cells. A high beta-carotene concentration is utilized to convert vitamin A in your body, which causes DNA to produce new skin cells.
Beta-carotene also aids in the prevention of free radical damage, which may result in age-related eye diseases, sun spots, wrinkles, UV damage, and even skin cancer. A diet rich in vitamin A and C may help naturally cure macular degeneration, cataracts, glaucoma, and skin cancer.
6. Anti-cancer Antioxidants
Potatoes and turnips may not immediately spring to mind as high-antioxidant vegetables, but they are. Many root vegetables are high in antioxidant flavonoids, which are responsible for some of their vivid hues, such as sweet potatoes’ orange or beets’ purple.
Nearly all root vegetables include carotenoid antioxidants like lutein and zeaxanthin, which are considered alkalizing and anti-inflammatory nutrients – but that’s not all. For example, purple sweet potatoes include anthocyanins, an antioxidant that has been found to protect cognitive function and prevent oxidative damage and brain degeneration. Beets also contain betalains, which are powerful anti-inflammatory compounds.
7. Assist in the reduction of cholesterol and the improvement of heart health
A high-fiber diet rich in whole foods containing both soluble and insoluble fibers is essential for heart health and balanced cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Fiber is a natural technique to decrease cholesterol since it binds to cholesterol particles and aids in their removal from the body. This implies that cholesterol is less likely to develop sticky plaque in arteries, raising the risk of heart disease, heart attacks, and strokes. In addition, potassium-rich meals, such as root vegetables, are excellent for maintaining healthy blood pressure, neuronal communication, and fluid balance.
When compared to a regular diet or even a “diabetic diet,” a Paleolithic-style diet improved both cardiovascular risk factors and glycemic management, according to a 2009 research published in the Journal of Diabetes Science Technology. The Paleo diet did not contain any grains, although it did include root vegetables. The findings revealed that those who followed a Paleolithic diet for three months had decreased mean hemoglobin A1c, lipids, diastolic blood pressure, weight, BMI, and waist circumference.
8. Assist in the fight against cancer and cognitive disorders
Many root vegetables include vitamin A, which has been linked to improved brain function, cognitive health, and cancer prevention. Inflammation and oxidative stress are two of the most common causes of cancer. Still, antioxidants like vitamin A, C, and E may help promote cellular health and reduce the body’s inflammatory reactions.
This implies that you’ll be better protected against harmful overreactions to things like a bad diet, lack of exercise, UV radiation, pollution, and environmental toxins. Reduced inflammation is also linked to a reduced risk of neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s, dementia, and Parkinson’s disease.
What to Look for and How to Use
Root veggies may be found at your local farmers’ market, supermarket, or health food shop. Most root vegetables should be smooth, firm to the touch, and devoid of soft or mushy places. The skin should be free of deep or black blemishes, although a bit of dirt isn’t a big concern, particularly if you buy organic vegetables, which is suggested.
The easiest approach to store root veggies is to keep them cold since this will keep them fresh for weeks, if not months. Some individuals store potatoes, sweet potatoes, and onions, for example, in a cold or room-temperature dark cabinet in their kitchen or even in a cellar or cool basement. However, most other root vegetables should be stored in the refrigerator.
Root Vegetables Cooking
Root vegetables may be roasted/baked, boiled, slow-cooked, grilled, or cooked in an instant pot, to name a few preparation methods. Most chefs advocate cooking them at 425 degrees F in a fairly hot oven. You may peel the veggies first and then chop them into 1- to 2-inch slices if you like. Toss them with some good butter, coconut, or avocado oil and a pinch of salt and pepper before baking them for 20 to 45 minutes, depending on the kind and size. Root vegetables should be halved or thickly sliced and grilled for approximately 10 minutes on each side. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil, add salt, and simmer the veggies for about 20 minutes, or until they are soft.
What Is the Appropriate Amount to Include in Your Diet?
This is highly dependent on your own requirements, body type, metabolism, and amount of physical activity. People who often exercise, for example, may consume more carbs in general than others who are more sedentary.
Try one to two modest portions of different root veggies every day and watch how your body reacts. Cooked, each serving should be around 12 cups. This quantity should not induce weight gain for most individuals. It will give a proper course of nutrients as part of an otherwise balanced diet with appropriate levels of quality protein, fat, and non-starchy vegetables.
Oven-roasted root vegetables, such as potatoes with rosemary, baked root vegetables, such as sweet potatoes with butter and cinnamon, roasted root vegetable soups, such as rutabaga or celeriac, and slow cooker root vegetables, such as beets, yams, etc. are some of the most popular ways to use root vegetables in recipes.
Is there ever a time when root veggies aren’t good for you? Because root vegetables are rich in starch, portion management is still necessary when eating them, particularly if you’re trying to attain and maintain a healthy weight, stabilize blood sugar, decrease total sugar in your diet, or have diabetes. While root vegetables may certainly be a part of a healthy diet, it’s vital not to detract from their nutritional value by cooking them in harmful ways, such as with plenty of butter, cheese, or processed oil.
- All vegetables that grow underground are classified as root vegetables, commonly known as tubers or starchy vegetables. “A fleshy expanded root of a plant used as a vegetable,” says the dictionary.
- Potatoes, beets, parsnips, carrots, celeriac, sweet potatoes, Jerusalem artichokes, jicama, yams, and turnips are examples of root vegetables.
- Root vegetables have high fiber content, important nutrients, starch/complex carbohydrates, weight control, and are gluten-free.
- Root vegetables are also high in antioxidants, minerals like potassium and magnesium, and vitamins C and A. As a result, they may be able to help minimize the risk of skin cancer, eyesight loss, cognitive decline, and heart disease, among other health issues.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which root vegetable is most nutritious?
A: Carrots are the most nutritious root vegetable.
What is the lowest carb root vegetable?
A: The lowest carb root vegetable is the white potato.
Are root vegetables good for your gut?
A: Root vegetables are fiber-filled, nutrient-dense foods that many consider healthy. They can be helpful for your gut as they help to move food through the digestive tract more easily and prevent constipation or diarrhea. However, as with all types of vegetables, it is best to eat a variety of different root veggies, so you don’t get too much starch in one meal, leading to harmful reactions in your body like cramps or fatigue.
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