Radish Vs. Turnip Vs. Beets explained at FarmerJer.com.

Differences And Similarities of Radish Vs. Turnip Vs. Beets

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Let’s learn about radish vs. turnip vs. beets. Everyone knows it’s essential to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. They have a lot of health benefits, they’re delicious when prepared right, and they can be grown almost anywhere. We take the easy road here and go for the familiar over the atypical. Experimenting with veggies such as radishes, turnips, and beets is fun once you know them. 

The most significant similarity between radishes, turnips, and beets is that they all contain a taproot. Radish and turnip belong to cruciferous vegetables, and beets to Beta vulgaris. Although they vary in appearance and taste, the vegetables share some common nutrients. 


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There seems to be a lot of stigma in this particular vegetable group. We know we should eat radishes because it’s healthy. But it’s labeled as boring. Turnip is spicy when eaten raw, while beets are bitter and overly earthy. It doesn’t have to be the case. With so many recipes and spices, it’s possible to get the best out of nature without compromising flavor. 

Distinguishing Radish from Beets from Turnip

To the untrained eye, vegetables with taproots can all look the same. There’s a leafy part above the earth and the root that grows below. Though this appears to be so, there are a lot of differences between them. 


Radish has lots of varieties it comes in. There’s daikon, green radish, black radish, oilseed radish, and red radish. Radishes can be long, globe or oval. The red globe radish is the most widespread and easily recognizable due to its reddish hue. The eatable part’s the pearly white flesh of the root. The leaves can grow long (up to 24 inches) or short (3-5 in), and the root is about an inch in diameter. 


Beets are a lot bigger than radishes and turnips. They have a deep purple coloring you can’t miss. The leaves look like Swiss chard – not surprising since they stem from the same species. The root looks like an overgrown purple chestnut and grows up to 3 inches in diameter. The leaves grow to about 20 inches and are edible, as well as the root.


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Turnip usually has a white or pink root with light-green leaves. The root’s flesh is white or yellow (in a variety called rutabaga). It’s a few inches in diameter, and the plant’s between 12 and 18 inches high. The lower part of the root is white, yet the top can be red, purple, or green. Turnip greens are another name for their soft, eatable leaves.

Shape-wise and size-wise, turnip and radish are more alike. The color is how you can set them apart – turnip is paler than radish. Beets are the biggest of all three and come in a vibrant purple. Besides sharing some visual resemblance, these three vegetables also have some of the same health benefits. They’re rich in iron and minerals, for example. But which is the richest?

Nutritional Differences With Radish Vs. Turnip Vs. Beets

Like most vegetables, the primary nutrient in all three taproots is water. Radish has more water than the other two, 95%. Turnip is 93% water, and beets 88%. Carbohydrates follow next, with beets containing almost 10%. Turnip consists of around 4% carbs and radish 3%. 

Carbs are separated into two categories: sugar and dietary fiber. The latter makes these veggies very popular among Weight Watchers, beets especially. No wonder it contains 3% fiber and less than 7% sugar. Turnip’s got even more: 3.5% dietary fiber and only 0.5% sugar. Radish contains about the same sugar and fiber (1.8% and 1.6%, respectively). 

When we look at fat, we notice that none of the vegetables have a high amount. It’s under 1%: turnip has the most, 0.2%, beets 0.17%, and radish the least, 0.1%. Protein-wise, beets take the lead with 1.5%. It’s twice the amount radish got (0.7%), even less than turnip (1.1%).

Vitamins are essential, as we need a good amount of them in our daily food intake. Beets have more vitamins than both radishes and turnips. It’s rich in folate (vitamin B9), vitamin A, and E. The other two have no traces of vitamin E. 

Turnips got the most vitamin C, radishes following close behind. It’s full of vitamin Bs (B1, B3, B5, B6), and lutein is extracted when its leaves are boiled. Radish has plenty of vitamin C, folate, and B6, and it’s the source of vitamin K (both beets and radish have none).

When we look at minerals in radishes, beets, and turnips, it’s safe to say beets win yet again. Beets are a great source of iron, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, and zinc. Iron makes up most of its precious minerals. 

Radish is rich in potassium, copper, iron, phosphorus, and calcium. It’s got less sodium and more calcium than beets. 

Turnip has even more calcium than radish, as well as more copper than beets. Other than that, its main minerals are copper, potassium, phosphorus, iron, and sodium. Beets seem to have the most sodium out of the three. 

All in all, beets provide the most minerals required in our daily diet. Turnip comes in second, before radish. Turnips also got the same amount of vitamins as beets. Looks like radish lost this one. 


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Here’s a helpful list of which vegetable has more nutrients compared to others:

Watermost mediumleast
Carbs (sugar)mediumleastmost
Carbs (dietary fiber)leastmostmedium
Vitaminsleastmost/same as beetsmost/same as turnip

It’s one thing to know which beneficial ingredients make up certain veggies. It’s another thing entirely tailor-suiting your specific dietary needs to them. Having in mind potential health benefits and concerns, of course.

Effects on Diet and Health

How many times have you read this quote? “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” It keeps getting repeated repeatedly, yet we don’t take it seriously. We indulge in junk food more often than we should. Sugar and sodium make up a large part of our diets. The fast-paced world has no time to waste on mindful food preparation. 

With just a few extra helpings of fruits and vegetables, you can be well on your way to a healthy lifestyle. Be it on a daily or a weekly basis. We should all listen to our bodies and what they’re trying to tell us. Let’s start by looking at these three types of vegetables and what they’ve got to offer us. 

You can’t go wrong choosing between radishes, beets, or turnips for a low-fat diet. Radish has a slightly lower amount of fat than the other two. The same goes for a low-calorie diet: radish’s got the least calories. Beets have a medium glycemic index, and radish ranks even lower, winning this category as well. A low carbs diet works great with either one of these veggies. 

Although all these foods are generally considered alkaline, beets are slightly acidic. Their pH is between 5.3 and 6.6. It’s the same with radish (5.5-6 pH), and turnip’s the most acidic (6-7.5). When digested, the vegetables become alkaline, making them ideal for anyone with a heart condition. 


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Regarding weight loss, these are some of the best vegetables you want to have in your meals. Beets are commonly juiced and added to smoothies. A study with obese rats drinking radish juice has proven it can reduce cholesterol.

Like other cruciferous vegetables, eating lots of turnips lowers the chances of getting cancer. Beets are suitable for the heart and for lowering high blood pressure. Radish plays a significant role in controlling cardiovascular diseases, too. However, it’s most effective with battling diabetes.  

Many studies show that: “The antidiabetic activity of radish may be due to its ability to enhance the antioxidant defense mechanism and reduce oxidative stress, which is an imbalance between reactive oxygen species and antioxidants in cellular systems.”

It’s hard to imagine there could be downsides to eating radishes, turnips, or beets. But there are some potential risks to consider. Since they all contain iron, they produce compounds called nitrates. A high amount of them can induce certain types of cancer. It’s essential to note this while ingesting many beets, as they have the highest concentration of iron.


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Both turnip and radish can cause hypothyroidism if overeaten too often. It means that a few essential hormones aren’t created, which can induce nerve or heart issues. 

Here’s a complete overview of which vegetable has the best influence on dieting:

Low carbsbestmediummedium
Low glycemic indexbestmediummedium

This list looks at the potential benefits and risks radishes, turnips, and beets have on the health:

Health Effects
Cancer reducingyesyesmedium
Cancer inducingnonopotentially
Lower diabetesyesnono
Fewer heart issuesnonoyes
Lower cholesterolyesnono
Hormone imbalancepotentiallypotentiallyno

Figuring out which supplements work best for you is no small feat. Trying to grow your produce is even bigger than that. Whether you live in an apartment or have a house with a big garden, it’s not impossible. Do you already have what it takes to grow beets, radishes, and turnips?

Cultivating Turnip, Radish, and Beets

Ancient civilizations like Romans, Egyptians, and Greeks have been growing beets for centuries. This tradition continued throughout the years, and the plant spread worldwide. Turnip seemed to have been around even before that – traces of it were found in 2000 BC. There’s not much data on when radishes were first cultivated, but ancient Romans surely appreciated them. 

Though these vegetables were always around, they weren’t grown for the same reasons as today. The roots were used as medicines for different ailments or brewed into teas. People often fed the leaves to the cattle. Many people still do this today – turnip greens are one of the most popular veggies for feeding cows.


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Radishes, beets, and turnips are among the simplest vegetables you can grow. They can be grown in containers or planted directly in the ground. If you’re using containers, ensure they’re deep enough so the roots can spread.

Radishes can grow both during fall and spring. You should avoid growing radishes in the hot summer months. The great news is that you only have to wait a few weeks to harvest the seeds after planting the seeds. The roots require a lot of nutrients and a place in the sun. The plants also need plenty of water. Don’t overcrowd your radishes; give each the space to grow.

Growing beets is much like growing radishes: they need their designated space, lots of sunlight, and water. Beets take longer to harvest; you can expect to enjoy the fruits of your labor after 6-8 weeks. They’re very cold-resistant, so you can sow the seeds from early spring.

Turnips are pretty much the same as the other two. Plant the seeds in spring or fall – bear in mind that the fall harvest will taste sweeter than the spring one. Give them space so as not to grow all over each other. You can expect to have them on your dining table after 6-10 weeks. 

There’s not much you can do wrong when deciding to plant your turnips, beets, or radishes. The plants are forgiving and don’t require a lot of attention. Give it a go so you can try out some delicious recipes with these versatile greens. 

Preparing Beets, Radishes, and Turnips

The thing that will determine your success with cooking these vegetables is cleaning them well. Since they grow beneath the soil, they’re often muddy. Use lots of water to get rid of all the dirt. Scrub them with a designated sponge to ensure you get it all out. Skip this step if you’re planning on roasting them. Peel them if you like, but the skin is eatable too.


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Most people throw away the leaves and focus on the root. While you can do so with the radish, try the leaves of the turnip and the beets. They’re delicious raw in a salad or cooked for a few minutes and served as a side dish. You can also eat the roots raw, but the taste is pretty strong. 

All three vegetables are most often cooked or blanched. They taste fantastic when pickled, as the flavors mellow down a bit. Beets are traditionally eaten this way in Eastern Europe (think borscht). They’re served cooked and spiced in India quite a lot, too. 

Radish is usually eaten raw in a salad or on its own. It’s also great when cooked or steamed. Alternatively, bake or roast it in the oven with other vegetables or meat. The same goes for turnip. Special attention is given to turnip greens, particularly in the South of the US. It’s served as a side to ham or pork, with hot sauce and cornbread.

The options for eating these vegetables are endless. They can be combined with all sorts of ingredients, from meat and fish to potatoes and rice, or eaten as they are. Experiment to see what works best for you. It’s not all about the bitterness or even the health benefits. Radishes, beets, and turnips can be heaven when prepared correctly.


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Old Vegetables, New Friends

Radish, turnip, and beets are often overlooked in the supermarket vegetable aisle. They seem like a lot of work for not a lot of flavor. Until you know the incredible value, they can bring to your health and your cooking game. It won’t happen before you learn how to discern between them. And there are some pointers you can always use. 

Radish and turnip look alike; they’re small taproots with long leaves and round-to-oval roots. Turnip is whiter, while radish is usually red. Radish is smaller than a turnip, but it’s better for you if you’re on a diet. Research has proven radishes help people with diabetes. Turnip’s an excellent source of vitamin C, and eating it lowers the chances of developing cancer.

Beets aren’t as easy to get mixed up with as they are intensely purple. Also, they’re larger than both turnip and radish combined. A fantastic source of iron and vitamins, beets can help lower high blood pressure. Turnip and radish are also filled with minerals and other nutrients, which is why these three vegetables are so similar. Their tastes vary, as do their effects on the human body. It can be beneficial to know all about them, as we can gain much more than we can lose.

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