Turnip vs. Potato – What’s The Difference? (ANSWERED)

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turnip vs potato

Turnips seem to be the root that people love to hate, while potatoes are the ones people hate to love. If you have ever asked what the differences are between potatoes and turnips, you are in the right place.  

In this guide, we will look at:

  • What’s the difference between a turnip and a potato?
  • Are turnips starchy like potatoes?
  • Do turnips taste like potatoes?
  • How potatoes and turnips compare nationally.
  • The Glycemic Index ratings of potatoes and turnips.
  • How long it takes to cook turnips and potatoes.

What’s the difference between a turnip and a potato?

Though potatoes and turnips are both temperate zone root crops and can be used interchangeably in most dishes, they are far from the same vegetable.  Let’s take a look at the differences between turnips and potatoes. 

Appearance

turnip color

Turnips (Brassica rapa rapa) and potatoes (Solanum tuberosum) are temperate zone crops considered staple foods in many areas of the world. Turnips are generally white-skinned, with many varieties slowly shading to purple at the top. Most potatoes are light brown or beige in color, with a few types having reddish skin.

Potatoes come in many varieties and can range in size from a few inches around to almost a foot long. Turnips that are grown for human consumption are generally harvested when they are about six inches around. 

Taste

turnip bitter edge

Turnips have a flavor that is less spicy than radishes but more savory than cabbage. In some cases, turnips can develop a bitter edge if they are too old. 

The taste of potatoes is harder to define—many varieties of potato taste like nothing other than starch. Others are slightly sweet, and a few of the over 4,000 types raised in the United States are mildly bitter or sour.

Which is Healthier

potatoes lower in sugar

The differences in potato and turnip nutritional profiles make it impossible to say one is heather than the other. The winner would depend on your priorities. Overall, potatoes might have a slight edge, but it comes at the expense of being worse for your waistline and blood sugar levels.  

  • Potatoes are higher in starch content and carbs, but they are lower in sugar.
  • Potatoes contain higher levels of iron, vitamin B6, and potassium but fall behind turnips in fiber, calcium, vitamins C and E.
  • Turnips are much lower in calories, but potatoes are lower in fats.

Are turnips starch like potatoes?

No, turnips are not classified as a starchy vegetable, like potatoes are. Turnips only contain trace amounts of starch, while 88% of a potato’s carb content is starch.

Do turnips taste like potatoes?

turnip taste

Though they can be used in place of potatoes in many dishes, turnips don’t taste like potatoes. Turnips have a flavor that is more savory than potatoes. Most potatoes taste mainly of starch. The taste of a turnip is like a very mild radish or spicy cabbage.

Nutrition Table

Per 100g Cooked Turnip Baked Potatoes
Calories 22 (1% DV) 92 (5% DV)
Fat 0.1g 0.2g
Carbohydrates 5.1g 21.1g
Protein 0.7g 2.1g
Cholesterol 0mg 0mg
Fiber 2g 2.1g
Sugar 3g 1.5g
Iron 0.2mg 0.6mg
Vitamin A 0μg 1μg
Vitamin C 11.6mg 12.6mg
Vitamin B1 0 0
Vitamin B2 0 0
Vitamin B5 0.3mg 1.5mg
Vitamin B12 0 0
Biotin 0 0
Folate 9μg 38μg
Vitamin E 0 0
Vitamin D 0 0
Vitamin K 0.1μg 2.7μg
Vitamin K1 0 0

Glycemic Index

The Glycemic Index (GI) rates foods based on how they affect your blood sugar levels. The higher a food’s GI rating, the more significant the shift they cause in your blood glucose levels. Doctors use the Glycemic index to help manage weight and cholesterol issues, and it is a primary tool in the treatment of diabetes. The scale runs from 0 for distilled water to 100 for pure glucose. 

Turnips

Turnips have a Glycemic Index Rating of 30. This places them in the low (below 55) category. Foods in this category are considered healthy to eat daily without any adverse effects on blood sugar levels. 

Potatoes

potato insulin sensitivity

Potatoes have a GI rating of 85, placing them very close to the top of the scale. People with sugar or insulin sensitivity problems should avoid consuming potatoes as much as possible. 

Cooking Time

sliced turnip

You can use both potatoes and turnips in a vast array of dishes. From simple mashes to soups and casseroles, few cooking methods can’t be utilized with either. Due to their higher fiber content, turnips will take slightly longer than potatoes in most dishes, but this can be offset by slicing them finer. 

Turnips

For simple mashes or to be pureed for soups, it will take about 15-20 minutes of boiling for 1-inch cubes of turnips to be softened. For oven roasting, 20-30 minutes is usually sufficient. In a fresh salad, simply slice and serve.

Potatoes

baked potato wedges

Potatoes destined to be mashed or used similarly will take 10-20 minutes of boiling depending on the size and type of potato. Oven roasting potato wedges can be accomplished in 10-15 minutes. 

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