Parsnips Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

parsnips nutrition facts and health benefits
Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

If you've seen parsnips at the farmers' market, you may have felt a little bit perplexed. Parsnips look like bleached, overgrown carrots, but they provide so much more than meets the eye. Despite a lack of vibrant color, parsnips have a lot to offer. These root vegetables are tasty, easy to prepare, and brimming with health-boosting nutrients. If you aren’t eating parsnips, perhaps it’s time to consider adding them to your shopping list.

Parsnips Nutrition Facts

The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for 1 cup cooked, mashed parsnips (210 grams).

  • Calories: 149
  • Fat: 0.6g
  • Sodium: 540mg
  • Carbohydrates: 35.5g
  • Fiber: 7.6g
  • Sugars: 10g
  • Protein: 2.8g

Carbs

A cup of mashed parsnips provides 35.5 grams of carbohydrate, of which 7.6 grams come from fiber and 10 grams are naturally-occurring sugars.

The glycemic index of boiled parsnips is 52 and the glycemic load is 5.

Fats

Parsnips are naturally very low in fat, with less than 1 gram per 1-cup serving. The majority of fatty acids in parsnips are polyunsaturated or monounsaturated.

Protein

Cooked parsnips have 2.8 grams of protein per cup.

Vitamins and Minerals

Parsnips are rich in several vitamins and minerals, including magnesium, calcium, iron, potassium, vitamin C, folate, choline, and vitamin E.

Health Benefits

Parsnips are often underrated for their health-promoting nutrients. Parsnips have a lot to offer, especially in regard to the following conditions.

Reduces Risk of Breast Cancer

Adequate fiber intake during early life (through adolescence and young adulthood) has been shown to significantly lower breast cancer risk later in life. Parsnips are a great way to increase fiber your intake, especially considering that most Americans routinely fall short on this essential nutrient. Beyond fiber, parsnips provide antioxidant vitamins, like vitamin C and vitamin E, which help the body scavenge free radicals and reduce DNA damage that may lead to cancer down the road.

Promotes Strong Bones

Parsnips provide a decent amount of magnesium and calcium, two crucial minerals for bone development. A cup of mashed parsnips has over 60 grams of magnesium. With the daily recommended intake for most adults at 320–420 milligrams, parsnips easily provide over 10% of magnesium needs. Given magnesium's role in the structural formation of bone, parsnips are a wise choice.

Supports Heart Health

Parsnips have several nutrients that are beneficial for heart health. The fiber in parsnips keeps blood levels of cholesterol down. Parsnips are especially high in potassium, which is known to lower blood pressure. Additionally, parsnips provide vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant, and folate, which significantly reduces the risk of stroke. Along with most other vegetables, parsnips are a great way to protect your heart.

Prevents Diverticular Disease

Getting enough fiber is essential for intestinal health. With parsnips providing almost 8 grams per cup, you can get closer to the daily recommended minimum of 20–30 grams per day with just one serving. Consuming adequate amounts of insoluble fiber, from foods like parsnips, can reduce the risk of diverticular disease by up to 40%. Parsnips can help you ward off this painful condition as you age.

Enables Wound Healing

Without enough vitamin C, our bodies are unable to synthesize collagen, a key structural component of skin. Vitamin C's antioxidant effects play an essential role in wound healing, along with its ability to act as a precursor to collagen. Our bodies are unable to produce vitamin C, but luckily, parsnips are a wonderful source. With 27 milligrams of vitamin C per cup, parsnips contribute to the daily goal of 75–90 milligrams per day.

Allergies

Parsnips are associated with mugwort weed allergies, in a cross-reactivity phenomenon known as oral allergy syndrome. Cooking parsnips, rather than eating them raw, can reduce the likelihood of this issue.

A food allergy to parsnips may also cause hives or allergic contact dermatitis. Itching, burning skin and/or swelling of the mouth lips and tongue are all possible symptoms. If you suspect a parsnip allergy, contact your healthcare provider.

Adverse Effects

For most people, the high potassium content of parsnips is a benefit. However, for people with kidney disease, parsnips can lead to a dangerous build-up of potassium in the blood. If you have poor kidney function, meet with a registered dietitian to discuss how parsnips should fit into your meal plan.

If you aren't used to eating a lot of fiber, a sudden increase in your parsnip intake may be tough on your digestive system. To reduce potential discomfort, up your intake of high-fiber foods gradually to give your body enough time to adjust.

Varieties

There are multiple varieties of parsnips which vary in their ability to resist various diseases. Some varieties of parsnips grow better in certain types of soil and come in slightly different sizes and shapes. Examples of parsnip varieties include Skirret, Panache, Harris Model, Tender and True, Gladiator, Andover, and All American.

When It's Best

Parsnips are best in the early Spring, but they can also be found in the Fall. During cold winter months, parsnips develop in sweetness and flavor. Smaller parsnips are more concentrated with antioxidants, so choose the little ones for maximum nutrition.

Storage and Food Safety

Store parsnips in the refrigerator in the vegetable crisper or in a plastic bag to prevent them from drying out. Parsnips will keep in the refrigerator for 2–6 months.

Prior to use, scrub parsnips with a vegetable brush and wash thoroughly under running water. Chop off the top, end, and peel.

How to Prepare

While it is less common to do so, parsnips may be eaten raw. They are earthier and not as sweet as the cooked version. For best results, slice or shred as thinly as possible. Pair raw parsnips with hardy leafy greens or other raw root veggies (such as carrots or radishes) in a salad or slaw. 

To help balance out the flavor of raw parsnips, season with fresh citrus juices, a sprinkle of sea salt and a drizzle of fruity extra virgin olive oil. Toss into a salad with raisins or pomegranate seeds and finish off with a sprinkle of salty cheese or a few crunchy nuts.

Parsnips are sweeter when cooked. Roast them, or boil and use as a substitute for mashed potatoes. Add parsnips to soups and stews for added nutrition and flavor.

Recipes

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Article Sources
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