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Rutabaga, a lesser-known root vegetable, often remains underappreciated despite its impressive nutritional profile. A member of the cruciferous family, rutabagas are rich in vitamins C and E and essential minerals such as potassium and manganese, which contribute to overall health and well-being. 

Their significantly low glycemic index sets rutabagas apart from their counterparts, making them a favorable dietary addition for individuals looking to manage their blood sugar levels. A half-cup serving of cooked rutabaga contains just 4 grams of sugar and provides a substantial amount of fiber, promoting digestive health and satiety.¹ 

This article explores the often overlooked benefits of incorporating rutabagas into your meals, shedding light on their impact on blood sugar regulation and offering insights into their potential role in managing conditions such as diabetes.

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Glycemic Index Table

A 100-gram serving of rutabaga contains approximately 5.5 grams of carbohydrates.¹ Given its low glycemic index of around 72, rutabaga is considered a food that causes a moderate rise in blood sugar levels, making it suitable for individuals looking to manage their blood sugar.² The glycemic load (GL) for a 100-gram serving of rutabaga can be calculated by multiplying the glycemic index by the amount of carbohydrate per serving and dividing by 100. Therefore, the GL for rutabaga is approximately 4, indicating a low impact on blood sugar levels.

When preparing rutabaga, it is essential to consider cooking methods as they can affect the glycemic index. Boiling or steaming rutabaga may result in a higher glycemic index compared to roasting, as cooking breaks down the fibrous structure, potentially making the carbohydrates more readily available for digestion.

Understanding the glycemic index is crucial as it measures how quickly a carbohydrate-containing food raises blood glucose levels. Foods with a high glycemic index lead to a rapid spike in blood sugar, while those with a low glycemic index cause a more gradual but sustained increase. This information is vital for individuals managing conditions such as diabetes, as it helps them make informed dietary choices to control their blood sugar levels effectively.

Glycemic Index


Serving Size


Carbohydrate* per Serving (g)

5.5 g

GL per Serving


Nutritional Facts

Rutabagas are nutrient-dense root vegetables, rich in essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, which supports the immune system, and potassium, which plays a crucial role in maintaining healthy blood pressure levels. They are also a good source of dietary fiber, contributing to digestive health and promoting a feeling of fullness. A 100-gram serving of rutabaga contains approximately 35 calories, 5.5 grams of carbohydrates, and 3 grams of fiber, making it a beneficial addition to a balanced diet.¹

The nutritional information below is for 100 g of rutabaga.¹


35 kcal


5.5 g


1.09 g


3 g


0 mg


B6 (0.1 mg), C (25 mg).


12 mg

Total Fat

0.16 g

Is Rutabaga Good for Weight Loss?

Rutabagas can benefit individuals aiming to lose weight due to their low-calorie and high-fiber content. With approximately 35 calories per 100-gram serving and a significant amount of dietary fiber, rutabagas can promote satiety, potentially reducing overall calorie intake.¹ Their fiber content can also support digestive health and contribute to a feeling of fullness, aiding in portion control. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), incorporating low-calorie, nutrient-dense vegetables like rutabagas into meals can be an effective strategy for weight management and overall health.

Is Rutabaga Safe for People Living with Diabetes?

Rutabagas are generally considered safe for individuals with diabetes due to their low glycemic index and moderate carbohydrate content. They can be a valuable addition to a diabetic diet as they contribute to better blood sugar management and provide essential nutrients. Rutabagas are rich in dietary fiber, which can aid in controlling blood sugar levels and improving insulin sensitivity. According to the American Diabetes Association, incorporating non-starchy vegetables like rutabagas into meals can help people with diabetes maintain stable blood sugar levels and promote overall health.

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Allergies to rutabaga, though relatively uncommon, can manifest as symptoms such as itching, swelling, and in severe cases, anaphylaxis. These allergic reactions are typically associated with the presence of certain compounds, including glucosinolates, which are known to cause cross-reactivity with other cruciferous vegetables. Individuals with known sensitivities to cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage or broccoli should exercise caution when consuming rutabagas. It is crucial for individuals experiencing allergic symptoms after consuming rutabaga to seek medical advice for proper diagnosis and management.

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What is Glycemic Index?

The glycemic index (GI) is a measure of how quickly a carbohydrate-containing food raises blood sugar levels compared to a reference food, usually glucose. It ranks foods on a scale from 0 to 100, with higher values indicating a faster rise in blood sugar. The glycemic index (GI) scale is typically categorized as follows: Low GI [55 or less], Medium GI [56-69], High GI [70 or higher]. Foods with a high glycemic index digest rapidly and can cause dramatic fluctuations in blood glucose or glucose spikes.

What is Glycemic Load?

Glycemic load (GL) takes into account both the quality (glycemic index) and quantity (carbohydrate content) of carbohydrates in a specific serving of food. It is a measure of how much a particular food will raise blood sugar levels. GL is calculated by multiplying the glycemic index of a food by its carbohydrate content and dividing it by 100. It provides a more accurate representation of the overall impact of a food on blood sugar compared to the glycemic index alone.

Does Rutabaga Spike Insulin?

Rutabaga has a low glycemic index and does not typically cause a significant spike in insulin levels. It is a root vegetable that is relatively low in carbohydrates and contains dietary fiber, which helps regulate blood sugar levels. However, individual responses may vary, and portion control is still important when managing blood sugar levels.

Is Rutabaga Low Glycemic?

Yes, rutabaga is low glycemic as it has a glycemic index of 53.

Can People Living with Diabetes Eat Rutabaga?

Yes, people living with diabetes can eat rutabaga as it is a low glycemic index vegetable that can help regulate blood sugar levels. However, it is important to monitor portion sizes and incorporate it into a balanced meal plan.

Topics discussed in this article:


  1. USDA FoodData Central. (2019, April 1). Food Details - Rutabagas, raw. 
  2. The University of Sydney. (2023, May 1). Glycemic Index – Glycemic Index Research and GI News

About the author

It is a long established fact that a reader will be distracted by the readable content of a page when looking at its layout.

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About the author

Brittany Barry is a national board-certified health coach and NASM-certified personal trainer based in South Carolina.

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Please note: The Signos team is committed to sharing insightful and actionable health articles that are backed by scientific research, supported by expert reviews, and vetted by experienced health editors. The Signos blog is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If you have or suspect you have a medical problem, promptly contact your professional healthcare provider. Read more about our editorial process and content philosophy here.

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