10 Surprising Benefits of Kohlrabi
The health benefits of kohlrabi include its ability to improve your digestive processes, help you lose weight, protect against cancer, boost the immune system, regulate the metabolism, increase circulation, strengthen bones, improve vision health, and assists in protecting muscle and nerve function.
Kohlrabi is a hardy, annual vegetable that is primarily consumed in Germanic countries, although it has also become a vegetable staple in northern India. It is actually a cultivar of cabbage and was specifically bred as a hardier version of cruciferous vegetables, which often can’t grow in as harsh of conditions. The small bulbous vegetable is encased in two harder shells of leaves, which typically do not soften when cooked. However, kohlrabi can be eaten raw or cooked and has been a staple of German cuisine for hundreds of years. You can use the kohlrabi root as well as the leaves for your table, as they both have significant amounts of nutrients.
Kohlrabi tastes somewhat like a broccoli stem, although somewhat more palatable, and is often softer, even taking on the consistency of an apple at times. While the roots/stems are often used in salads in a similar way as carrots or broccoli, the leaves are typically interchanged for kale or spinach. Some countries even use kohlrabi as food for their livestock, as it is packed with beneficial nutrients and grows relatively easily in certain climates.
Kohlrabi is so highly valued in countries and cuisines around the world not only for its diversity in cooking applications, but also because it is full of nutrients and minerals like copper, potassium, manganese, iron, and calcium, as well as vitamins, such as vitamin C, B-complex vitamins, vitamin A, and vitamin K. Along with that, kohlrabi is also high in dietary fiber and antioxidant compounds, such as phytochemicals and various carotenes.
Health Benefits of Kohlrabi
Digestive Health: Just like most of the cruciferous vegetables, kohlrabi is a great source of dietary fiber that can seriously improve your digestive health. Fiber helps to move your bowels along, eliminating constipation, reducing cramping and bloating, and generally improving the quality of your gastrointestinal system, while also maximizing your nutrient uptake efficiency.
Weight Loss Booster: Kohlrabi is the perfect diet vegetable, because it is low in calories, high in fiber, and is packed with beneficial nutrition. Fiber makes us feel full, so even if the volume of food consumed isn’t that great, we resist the urge to snack between meals or overeat.
Nerve and Muscle Function: Although this characteristic of potassium isn’t discussed too often, it is one of the key players in muscle and nerve behavior in the body. It helps us move, breathe, react, and function every single day. As such, the high potassium content in kohlrabi makes it a great addition to your diet to keep alert, energetic, and in great shape!
Blood Pressure: That same potassium content also function as a vasodilator, reducing the strain on the cardiovascular system by easing the tension of blood vessels and arteries. This can increase circulation throughout the body, oxygenating key areas, and lowering the risk of cardiovascular events like strokes or heart attacks. Potassium is also a key part of fluid regulation in the body, as it works with sodium to regulate fluid movement between cells.
Iron Deficiency: The significant levels of iron found in kohlrabi go hand-in-hand with the potassium content, as iron helps to increase the RBC in the body, which is essential to prevent anemia (iron deficiency), which is characterized by weakness, fatigue, headaches, stomach disorders, disorientation, and general immune system failure. The calcium found in kohlrabi also improves the uptake of iron by the body, so kohlrabi is an all-around booster for both the immune and cardiovascular systems.
Bone Strength: As we get older, our bones inevitably weaken, but one of the best ways to avoid or significantly slow down that process is by eating mineral-rich food, which includes vegetables like kohlrabi, with high manganese, iron, and calcium contents. Preventing osteoporosis is something that can be done when you’re young, so keep those calcium levels high!
Vision Health: Protecting our ability to see the world is a key part of human nutrition, and nothing is better for that than vitamin A. Kohlrabi is a rich source of carotenes, including beta-carotene, which acts as an antioxidant compound in the body, particularly in the ocular area. Vitamin A can help to prevent macular degeneration and slow down or eliminate the appearance of cataracts. This is done by neutralizing the free radicals in the eye and preventing oxidative stress.
Metabolism: For those people who want to regulate their metabolism or feel that something in their body just isn’t working properly, they should try kohlrabi, which is a rich source of B-vitamins, many of which play key roles in enzymatic processes within the body. This vital network of reactions and processes determines how functional and efficient our bodies are, so making sure to add B-vitamin-rich foods like kohlrabi to a weekly diet can really help!
Cancer Prevention: Kohlrabi is one of those amazing vegetables that seems blessed with high levels of phytochemicals, particularly glucosinolates, which are considered some of the most important antioxidant compounds for the prevention of cancer, including breast and prostate cancer.
A Final Word of Caution: Aside from a very rare case of a food allergy, kohlrabi is not the source of any known allergens and can be eaten without worry by the vast majority of people – especially for those looking for a healthier form of cabbage!