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Food Highlight: Kohlrabi

Food Highlight: Kohlrabi

Industry experts are predicting kohlrabi to take over as the new “It” vegetable. Kohlrabi is a low calorie vegetable that is nutrient dense, which puts it in a great position to be incorporated into a post surgical bariatric diet for gastric sleeve, gastric bypass, and lap band patients. While we wait to see is this member of the cabbage family will dethrone kale, let’s take an in depth look at kohlrabi, it’s benefits, and tasty ways to eat it.

Kohlrabi, German for ‘cabbage turnip’, is a member of the cruciferous vegetable family along with cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, collard greens, and Brussels sprouts. It is usually whitish-green or purple in color, and resembles a mixture of a cabbage and a turnip. The turnip-shaped bulbous stem (which is the part most frequently consumed) has leaves sprouting from the top. Although it may look like a root, it’s actually a “swollen stem” that grows above ground.

Kohlrabi is nutrient dense. That means there’s a lot of nutrition packed into a small amount of calories. One cup of raw kohlrabi has 36 calories, 2 g protein, 8 g carbohydrates, 0 g fat, 5 g fiber, 140% RDA for vitamin C, 14% RDA for potassium, and is a good source of thiamine, folate, magnesium, phosphorus, B6, copper, and manganese. As most bariatric patients consume about 800-1200 calories a day, 36 calories per cup of kohlrabi barely puts a dent in their total while it provides a good deal of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients.

The dietary fiber provided by kohlrabi helps promote normal digestion and promotes bowel regularity. A diet high in fiber helps you feel fuller for longer, helps prevent a sharp rise in blood sugar, helps prevent hemorrhoids, promotes healthy gut bacteria, and helps prevent colon cancer. In addition, fiber is often a key component in weight loss programs as it contributes to bulk without adding calories, which helps reduce your overall caloric intake.

It is also contains the antioxidant isothiocyanate, which may have protective benefits against some types of cancer. Isothiocyanates help to create a barrier against the hormones that are associated with breast and prostate cancers.

Kohlrabi high potassium levels are beneficial for heart health and muscles. Diets high in potassium are associated with lowering blood pressure. Potassium is also needed for muscle and nerve function. Kohlrabi provides 14% of the RDA for potassium, which is a good source.

One cup of raw kohlrabi provides 140% of the RDA for vitamin C. Vitamin C is often associated with boosting the immune system. A healthy immune system is key to helping to fight off many diseases from the common cold to asthma to cardiovascular diseases to some forms of cancer.

How do you eat kohlrabi?

Kohlrabi is a versatile vegetable, with a taste similar to a turnip but milder and sweeter. You can eat it raw by slicing it thinly and eating it like a chip. Raw, grated kohlrabi can blend well in a salad. The bulb can be sliced or diced and sauteed or steamed until soft. You can add it to a stir fry or soup. The leaves can also be washed and sauteed with garlic and oil, similar to spinach, or eaten raw in a salad.

One word of caution for those considering trying kohlrabi. Due to its levels of uric and oxalic acid, it may be best to avoid if you suffer from gout or kidney stones.

This food highlight is offered by Dr. Shillingford, M.D., P.A., a board certified surgeon specializing in adjustable lap band, gastric sleeve, and gastric bypass surgeries. Dr. Shillingford’s bariatric weight loss practice is located in Boca Raton, Florida and serves patients from all over South Florida including Coral Springs, Delray Beach, Miami, Wellington, Naples, and Fort Lauderdale. Dr. Shillingford’s bariatric patients often ask about healthy foods that are nutrient dense and support a healthy heart, help with bowel regularity, boost immune function, and help promote weight loss.