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The Differences Between Turnips And Radishes (They Really Are Different)

Quick Answer

Here’s a breakdown of the main differences between a turnip and a radish:

  • Turnips are generally ready to harvest in 60 days, whereas radishes are ready in just 22 days.
  • Turnips are more susceptible to plant diseases than radishes.
  • Round radishes are smaller than round turnips.
  • Round turnips have creamy-white skin and a purple top, whilst round radishes sport a reddish skin color.
  • A radish is made up of 95% water, whereas a turnip is made up of 93% water.
  • A turnip contains more sodium.
  • A radish contains more potassium.
  • A turnip contains more sugar.

When you first look at a turnip and radish, these two vegetables will appear to be very similar.

However, there are some distinct differences between turnips and radishes.

First, let’s get the main similarity between these veggies out of the way. Both are root vegetables.

This means that the root of the vegetable is edible.

But, as we look closer at turnips and radishes, we will start to see differences in their appearance, taste, and texture.

Belonging to the same family, Brassicaceae, turnips, and radishes can be either annual or biennial.

The Differences Between Turnips And Radishes

In terms of nutritional value, both are pretty similar, with a low number of calories and high water content.

But, although there are a range of shared characteristics, it is important to know the differences between these vegetables.

If not, you may mix up a recipe and end up with something that doesn’t taste quite right.

So, join us as we guide you through the differences between turnips and radishes.

We will discuss their appearance, flavors, texture, and more, so you can be better prepared when including these vegetables in your next recipe.

Main Differences Between A Turnip And A Radish

The main differences between these two root vegetables are their sensory and physical characteristics, such as their taste, appearance, and texture.

A radish tends to have a small, round shape, measuring approximately 0.8 to 1.2 inches in length.

Radishes also come in a variety of colors, such as purple, black, yellow, and white.

However, the main color is typically red with white on their insides.

The texture of radishes is smooth on the outside, but when cooked, the crunchy, hard texture becomes softer.

As for taste, a radish typically has a peppery, savory flavor.

When raw, they are somewhat sweet, but as they mature, this flavor becomes spicier. And, when cooked, radishes are much milder.

Turnips, on the other hand, are a lot larger than radishes. Although round in shape as well, turnips can reach up to two to three inches in length.

Moreover, compared to the numerous exterior colors of radishes, a turnip always has a purplish-white hue.

Compared to radishes, turnips have a rougher texture on their outsides. However, they are also rather crunchy.

A young, cooked turnip will generally have a sweeter flavor, whereas older and raw turnips are more earthy with a bitter, spicier flavoring.

A raw radish tends to have a zesty, sweet, and crispy flavor, compared to the slight spice, and crunchy nature of a raw turnip.

Moreover, raw radishes become spicier as they mature, whereas turnips become more starchy and bitter, as well as spicier.

Although turnips and radishes belong to the same Brassicaceae family and are both cruciferous vegetables (others include mustard plants, Brussels sprouts, kale, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, garden cress, etc.), they differ in appearance, size, flavor, texture, and color.

The Nutritional Value Of Turnips And Radishes

The nutritional values of turnips and radishes are quite similar.

Let’s compare the nutritional profiles of a 100-gram serving of raw radishes with a 100-gram serving of turnips:

Turnips Radishes
Calories  2816
Fiber 1.8 grams1.6 grams
Fat 0 grams0 grams 
Carbohydrates 6.4 grams3.4 grams
Protein 0.9 grams0.7 grams
Potassium 4% of the Daily Recommended Intake6% of the Daily Recommended Intake
Folate 4% of the Daily Recommended Intake6% of the Daily Recommended Intake
Vitamin C23% of the Daily Recommended Intake16% of the Daily Recommended Intake
Calcium 2.3% of the Daily Recommended Intake2% of the Daily Recommended Intake
Phosphorous 2% of the Daily Recommended Intake1.9% of the Daily Recommended Intake

As you can see above, both turnips and radishes are largely made up of carbohydrates.

However, turnips provide over twice as many carbs as radishes. But, in terms of proteins and fat, there is very little to no difference.

Both vegetables are pretty good sources of vitamin C with generous amounts of potassium and folate, too.

With so many vitamins and nutrients, it’s no wonder turnips and radishes are regarded as important vegetables in a balanced diet.

Take vitamin C, for example. This is a strong antioxidant that helps support the immune system.

Potassium is important in helping muscle contraction and nerve transmissions, whilst folate is key in DNA synthesis.

Other antioxidants found in these Brassicaceae veggies include carotenoids, tocopherols, and glucosinolates.

Again, these offer a whole host of important health benefits.

It’s important to note, however, that the nutritional value of these vegetables can be heavily impacted by various factors.

Influential aspects include the environment where they are grown, the conditions they are cooked under, how they are processed, and their harvesting time.

The Health Benefits Of Turnips And Radishes

We have already touched upon some of the health benefits of turnips and radishes above, but there are many to consider.

Because they belong to the same family, these veggies have similar plant compounds that are beneficial to our health.

Therefore, they also share most of their health benefits, too.

As we mentioned, both turnips and radishes are very rich in antioxidants. These include:

  • Flavonoids
  • Anthocyanins
  • Carotenoids
  • Vitamin C

Each of these compounds fights the detrimental effects of oxidative stress, by defending the cells and keeping them strong.

Without these antioxidants, your body is at risk of certain diseases such as cancer and heart disease.

These vegetables are believed to contain an array of cancer-fighting properties.

Like other cruciferous vegetables, turnips and radishes are abundant in glucosinolates and isothiocyanates (derived from glucosinolates).

Together, glucosinolates and isothiocyanates could fight against cancerous cells.

They do this by stunting their growth and, in turn, reducing their overall size. In time, this can lead to the death of these cancerous cells.

The health benefits keep going!

Tests on animals and test-tube subjects have found that turnips and radishes may contain anti-diabetic properties, as well.

As part of a healthy, balanced diet, both root vegetables have been shown to lower blood sugar levels, through the reduction of glucose absorption in the intestines.

Moreover, they may be able to improve the production of insulin and its sensitivity.

The Side Effects Of Turnips And Radishes

The Side Effects Of Turnips And Radishes

Although there are many health benefits associated with turnips and radishes, there are some possible side effects from consuming them, too.

For those with a mustard allergy, the consumption of these vegetables has been known to potentially cause an allergic reaction.

This is because mustard plants belong to the same Brassicaceae family as turnips and radishes.

It is also known that some people have allergies to radishes.

If someone with such an allergy comes into contact with a radish, it can lead to an immediate itchy rash and possible anaphylaxis.

Whilst this is possible, it is very rare.

Turnips Vs Radishes: When To Cook With These Vegetables?

Turnips work well in a variety of dishes, from fresh salads to cooked meals. When cooked, turnips are best in a little oil and seasoned with herbs.

For the best results, we recommend sautéing your turnips with some garlic and butter and then drizzle some olive oil before baking for around 20 minutes.

You can also roast turnips.

Just cut some slices, season with salt and pepper, and drizzle a little olive oil on top before roasting for 30 minutes or until it is done.

Turnips work well in vegetable stock with herbs, too. Just wait until the veggie is soft but still crisp.

And, don’t be afraid to pan-fry some slices until they are golden, as well!

As for radishes, you can cook and use these in much the same way as turnips.

Although you can enjoy a radish raw, we recommend chopping some up and adding them to a leafy or crunchy salad with other ingredients.

You can also cook radishes and include them in a range of dishes.

Radish leaves work well in potato soups, and when sautéd, radish slices go brilliantly with pork or minced beef.

Add them to enchiladas, stews, or tostados as garnish for delicious results.

Add some salt and chives, and your radishes can become tasty, nutritious snacks to go with your beer. Trust us!

In Summary

Turnips and radishes are both parts of the same family, meaning they have very similar nutritional profiles.

Also boasting similar health benefits, these root vegetables have many properties that can fight off cancerous cells and other diseases.

But, in terms of their appearance, size, taste, texture, and culinary uses, turnips and radishes have many differences.

Turnips are usually cooked, whereas radishes can be enjoyed raw in salads.

We hope this article has helped you understand the similarities and differences between turnips and radishes, so you can decide which vegetable is best for your future dishes.

Experiment with each and let us know what works best in certain recipes! Thanks for reading!

Jess Smith