Root vegetables have long been enjoyed as a delicious part of a healthy diet.
Defined as an edible plant that grows underground, potatoes, carrots and onions are a few common examples that most are familiar with.
However, there are many other types — each with a distinct set of nutrients and health benefits.
Here are the 13 healthiest root vegetables to add to your diet.
Onions are popular root vegetables, serving as a staple ingredient in many cuisines.
They’re high in fiber, vitamin C and antioxidants (1).
Research shows that eating onions may be associated with a wide array of health benefits.
For instance, one study found that eating 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of raw onions per day significantly reduced blood sugar levels in people with diabetes (4).
What’s more, other research observed that onions may possess powerful anticancer properties, with observational studies linking a higher intake of this root vegetable to a lower risk of common types of cancer (5, 6).
Onions work well in a variety of meals and can easily be added to salads, soups, scrambled eggs, casseroles, rice or pasta dishes and many more.
Summary Onions are high in antioxidants and may help reduce blood sugar levels and your risk of certain cancers.
Sweet potatoes are vibrant and delicious root vegetables that are highly nutritious and jam-packed with health benefits.
Sweet potatoes can be baked, boiled, roasted or sautéed and enjoyed as a delicious side dish or added to everything from sandwiches to salads to breakfast bowls.
Summary Sweet potatoes may help improve blood sugar control and are high in vitamin A, which may preserve vision and improve immunity and skin health.
Turnips are a delicious root vegetable and have been cultivated for centuries.
They have an impressive nutrient profile, being a great source of vitamin C, fiber, manganese and potassium (14).
Adding vitamin C to your diet can help boost your immunity, with one study noting that getting enough of this vitamin could help reduce symptoms and shorten the severity of respiratory infections, such as the common cold (15).
Turnips can be swapped into nearly any recipe in place of potatoes. Try making turnip fries, coleslaw, stir-fry or salad.
Summary Turnips are high in immune-boosting vitamin C and considered a root as well as cruciferous vegetable. Eating it may be associated with a lower risk of certain types of cancer.
Ginger is a flowering plant from China that is closely related to other root vegetables like turmeric.
It’s loaded with antioxidants, including a specific compound called gingerol, which has been associated with a long list of health benefits (20).
Ginger makes a great addition to tea, soups, smoothies and stews and can bring a zesty zing to just about any dish.
Summary Ginger is rich in antioxidants and can help reduce nausea and decrease pain and inflammation.
Beets are one of the most nutritious root vegetables available, packing a good amount of fiber, folate and manganese into each serving (25).
They’re also high in nitrates, which are beneficial plant compounds that can help dilate your blood vessels, potentially lowering blood pressure and improving heart health (26).
To take advantage of the unique health benefits of beets, try roasting, juicing, pickling, boiling or steaming this delicious root vegetable.
Summary Beets are a good source of nitrates and may improve exercise performance, increase blood flow and decrease the growth of cancer cells — according to human and animal studies.
Garlic is a root vegetable that belongs to the Allium genus and is closely related to onions, leeks, chives and shallots.
Plus, it’s well-known for its medicinal properties, which are mostly attributed to the compound allicin, which is released when cloves of garlic are crushed, chewed or chopped (33).
Best of all, garlic is highly versatile and can be used to amplify the flavor of your favorite savory soups, sauces, side dishes and main courses.
Summary Garlic has potent medicinal properties due to the compound allicin. It may help improve your immunity, reduce blood pressure and decrease cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
Radishes may be small, but they manage to pack a punch when it comes to nutrition.
Not only that, but one rat study found that the leaves of the radish plant may protect against stomach ulcers (42).
Radishes are great for bringing a bit of crunch to your meals or snacks. Try adding slices to slaws, sandwiches, salads or tacos to give your dish a nutritious and tasty upgrade.
Summary Radishes contain a good amount of fiber and vitamin C. They may also have antifungal properties and could protect against stomach ulcers, according to animal and test-tube studies.
Known for its licorice-like flavor, fennel is a flowering plant species closely related to carrots.
In addition to supplying very few calories per serving, fennel packs fiber, vitamin C, potassium and manganese (43).
It also contains the compound anethole, which gives fennel its distinct flavor, aroma and a wide array of health benefits.
Fennel can be enjoyed fresh, roasted or sautéed, as well as mixed into salads, soups, sauces and pasta dishes.
Summary Fennel contains the compound anethole, which has been shown to reduce blood sugar and block the growth of bacteria in test-tube and animal studies.
As one of the most well-known root vegetables, carrots also top the charts as one of the most nutritious.
Other research shows that a higher intake of carotenoids, such as beta-carotene, may be associated with a lower risk of certain types of cancer, including breast, prostate and stomach cancer (51, 52, 53).
Carrots make a great snack when eaten raw or dipped in hummus, but they can also be cooked and used in stir-fries, stews or side dishes.
Summary Carrots are high in beta-carotene, which may be tied to a lower risk of vision problems and certain types of cancer. Eating carrots has also been linked to lower cholesterol levels and improved antioxidant status.
Also known as celery root, celeriac is a highly versatile and delicious root vegetable that’s easy to cook and enjoy.
Vitamin K is an essential nutrient, necessary for proper blood clotting (57).
It’s also needed for the function of osteocalcin, a protein hormone that is key for your bone health (58).
Celeriac has a nutty taste and crunchy texture that works especially well in salads. It can also be boiled, roasted, baked or mashed and used in place of potatoes in nearly any recipe.
Summary Celeriac is a nutrient-rich root vegetable that’s high in vitamin K, a vitamin that is necessary for blood clotting and bone health.
Turmeric is a type of root vegetable that belongs to the same plant family as ginger and cardamom.
The rhizomes, or root, of the plant are often ground into a spice, which is used to add a splash of color, flavor and health benefits to many dishes.
Turmeric contains a compound called curcumin, which has been shown to prevent blood clot formation, lower cholesterol levels and reduce markers of inflammation in both test-tube and animal studies (59, 60, 61).
Turmeric is widely available as a spice and can be added to both savory and sweet recipes, as well as drinks, such as golden turmeric milk.
To reap its benefits, be sure to pair turmeric with black pepper, as the latter contains a compound that can significantly boost the absorption of curcumin in your gut (65).
Summary Turmeric contains curcumin, a compound that has been associated with a long list of benefits, including improved joint pain, blood sugar levels and symptoms of depression.
They’re also very nutritious, packing a good chunk of fiber, vitamin C, vitamin B6, potassium and manganese (68).
Steer clear of fried potatoes or processed potato products, which are often high in fat, salt and calories yet lacking in nutrition. Instead, select baked, boiled or steamed potatoes to get the most nutrients.
Summary Potatoes pack many nutrients and are high in resistant starch. They’re also very filling, which may promote weight loss.
Rutabagas are root vegetables that belong to the mustard family and are commonly cultivated for their edible leaves and roots.
They also provide glucosinolates, sulfur-containing compounds that are commonly found in cruciferous vegetables that may help protect against cancer cell development and growth and prevent oxidative stress (76, 77).
Rutabaga can be mashed, baked or roasted and enjoyed in soups, salads, noodles and even desserts.
Summary Rutabagas are high in fiber and glucosinolates, which may help protect against cancer and prevent oxidative stress.
Plenty of nutritious and delicious root vegetables exist — each with a unique set of health benefits.
From reducing oxidative stress to preventing chronic disease, adding a serving or two of root vegetables to your daily diet can be incredibly beneficial.
For best results, combine these tasty root vegetables with a variety of other nutrient-rich ingredients to help optimize your diet and your health.