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Root Vegetables
Root vegetables are plant roots used as vegetables. Here "root" means any underground part of a plant.
Root vegetables are generally storage organs, enlarged to store energy in the form of carbohydrates. They differ in the concentration and the balance between sugars, starches, and other types of carbohydrate. Of particular economic importance are those with a high carbohydrate concentration in the form of starch. Starchy root vegetables are important staple foods, particularly in tropical regions, overshadowing cereals.

Botany distinguishes true roots such as tuberous roots and taproots from non-roots such as tubers, rhizomes, corms, and bulbs, though some contain both taproot and hypocotyl tissue, making it difficult to tell some types apart. In ordinary, agricultural, and culinary use, "root vegetable" can apply to all these types.

Technically, the term “root vegetables” includes only those that are either tuberous roots or taproots and include beets, cassava, carrots, horseradish, radishes, rutabagas, parsnips, salsify and turnips. Other categories of underground vegetables include: bulbs (onions, garlic), corms (celeriac, eddo, taro), rhizomes (ginger, galangal, turmeric), and tubers (potatoes and the like). That said, most people refer to the whole shebang of edible underground plants as root vegetables.

As the storage house for a plant’s nutrients, root vegetables are rich stores of vitamins, Phytonutrients, and complex carbohydrates. Because of their nature, they can survive cold storage and they are invaluable source of nutrition in colder climates when little else is growing.

Since roots vegetables are storage organs for the plants they support, they are packed full of energy in the form of carbohydrates (by way of fiber, sugar and starch). Root vegetables that have a medium rating on the GI include sweet potatoes, boiled potatoes, yams, onions, beets and raw carrots. Those that get a high ranking include baked potatoes, mashed potatoes, parsnips, cooked carrots and rutabagas.

Healing properties of garlic, ginseng and ginger are well known. Fennel root is very good for the digestive tract. In general, root vegetables have no fat and are low in calories. They can be an excellent source of protein, and their Phytonutrients are proven to have extraordinary health benefits. The Phytonutrients include antioxidants which fight free radicals in our bodies. The Phytonutrients are associated with the color of the vegetable, and the more intense a vegetable’s color is, the more Phytonutrients it contains. A glass of carrot juice contains about 45,000 IU of vitamin A which is extremely important for healthy eyes.

Nutritional and Health Properties of Some Common Roots:
Carrot: One small sized carrot has 30 calories from 5g of sugar and 2g of fiber. A single carrot may give most of the daily requirement for Vitamin A, along with good amount of vitamin C, iron and calcium. Carrots also contain trace amounts of vitamin K, vitamin B6, folate, pantothenic acid, magnesium, potassium, copper and manganese.

Beets: A medium-sized beet contains 2g of fiber and 6g of sugar. It is fat free, low in sodium and an excellent source of folate. A single cup of cooked beets provides almost 1/3rd daily requirement of folate and 1/4th of the daily requirement of manganese. It also is a good source for potassium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, sodium and copper. Beet has been found useful in the treatment of Colon Cancer and birth related defects. It is a natural cleanser which removes toxins from the body and nourishes the bloodstream. Beet is useful in the treatment of liver related dysfunctions like Jaundice, Cirrhosis etc.

Sweet Potato: Because of their sugar content, sweet potatoes are higher in calories than many vegetables. A medium-sized sweet potato has 7g of sugar and 100 calories. However, sweet potatoes are also high in vitamins. A medium-sized sweet potato has considerably high amount of vitamin A and vitamin C. Sweet potatoes provide 3g of fiber and small amounts of thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, B6, pantothenic acid and manganese.

Radish: Radish has excellent levels of copper, manganese and potassium. It is also a good source of calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorous, zinc and sodium. Radishes are a very good source of vitamin c and vitamin k. They also contain riboflavin and vitamin b6. 100g of radish contains 16 calories only. Radish is low in saturated fat and very low in cholesterol. They are also very good source of dietary fiber. Radish has anti-bacterial as well as anti-fungal properties. It is beneficial for cough, respiratory problems, digestive disorders, asthma, bronchitis and liver and gallbladder troubles.

Turnip: Turnips are an excellent source of Potassium, sodium and calcium. It is also a good source of magnesium and phosphorus. It also has small amount of iron, zinc, copper, manganese and selenium. Turnips are rich in Vitamin C. It has good amount of choline and small amount of Vitamin K, B6, thiamin, niacin, folate and Pantothenic acid. 100g of turnips have 28 calories. Calories from fat are 1. Turnips are used in treating arthritis and are good anti-oxidants; it lowers the risk of obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and cancers of the stomach, pancreas, bladder and lung diseases. Turnips help prevent cataracts and cardiovascular disease.

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