Help shoppers choose from these seasonal nutritious taproots.
Winter is the time for an abundance of root vegetables, but do you know your taproots? It is true root vegetables are considered taproots, which are loosely defined as roots that grow downward into the ground. Taproots can be subdivided into tuberous roots like sweet potatoes, yams and fleshy roots like carrots and beets. It’s important to make the distinction that root vegetables are different from tubers (potatoes, cassava), rhizomes (ginger, galangal) and bulbs (shallots, garlic).
The taproot is considered the main root of a primary-root system. It grows vertically downward and from the main root arise smaller lateral roots (secondary roots), which in turn produce even smaller lateral roots (tertiary roots). Carrots and beets are tuberous roots modified from taproots.
Plants with taproots tend to be very drought tolerant and unbelievably, many can send roots down 20-30 feet or more, allowing them to find water, even in dry climates or conditions.
Typical taproots you can find in the supermarket include:
Beets. A rich source of polyphenols and betalains both potent antioxidants. Beets are also known to support liver function and moreover, have been shown to lessen tumor cell growth in lab studies.
Burdock root. Rich in potassium, inulin – a prebiotic feeding the probiotics in your gut, as well as vitamin C, E, iron, magnesium and Traditionally burdock is thought to aid in detoxification and to “purify the blood.”
Carrots. Rich in beta carotene, biotin, vitamin K, potassium, vitamin C and a variety of phytonutrient antioxidants.
Parsnip. Sweet when cooked and high in soluble fiber as well as rich in potassium, vitamin C, folate, B5, copper, and manganese.
Radish. Zingy and full of flavor, radishes are rich in vitamin C, folate, potassium, and calcium, and are low in calories. They are members of the cruciferous family, thus boast all of the anti-cancer benefits.
Turnips. Also a cruciferous vegetable rich in vitamin C, fiber, B6 and can be eaten raw or cooked with a variety of cancer protective benefits.
Before cooking or eating, it is imperative to thoroughly wash with a scrub brush, before using. Do not soak and do not clean before storage. Well-cleaned skins are not only edible, they offer extra fiber and valuable nutrients.