Parsnips Nutrition Facts

Calories, Carbs, and Health Benefits of Parsnips

parsnips nutrition facts and health benefits
Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

What are parsnips? You have likely seen them at the farmers' market, but perhaps you were a little perplexed. They might look like bleached and overgrown carrots but there is so much more to parsnips than meets the eye. These root vegetables are tasty, easy to prepare, and filled with nutrients. If you aren’t eating parsnips, it’s time to add them to your shopping list.

Nutrition Facts

The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for 1 cup cooked parsnip, sliced, and boiled with added salt or fat.

  • Calories: 111
  • Fat: 0.4g
  • Sodium: 15mg
  • Carbohydrates: 16.6g
  • Fiber: 5.6g
  • Sugars: 7.4g
  • Protein: 2g

Carbs in Parsnips

Since parsnips are typically eaten cooked, it is best to evaluate the nutrient composition of sliced and boiled parsnips. One cup of cooked parsnips contains 111 calories, about 17 grams of carbohydrate, 7.4 grams of natural sugars and an impressive 5.6 grams of tummy-pleasing fiber. This fiber count will earn you nearly 25 percent of the daily recommended value of this illusive nutrient.

While many veggies contain some fiber, not all contain such high amounts in a relatively modest one-cup serving. If you are trying to up your intake of fiber, parsnips are a good place to start.

Fats in Parsnips

Like most vegetables, parsnips are extremely low in fat, containing just a measly 0.4 grams per cup. When cooked, the fibrous texture of parsnips will mellow and the starch will develop. This leaves a tender, soft and extra creamy texture that make parsnips a healthier swap over higher-carb side dishes like mashed potatoes or creamy pasta dishes. 

Protein in Parsnips

Protein is not where parsnips shine. Cooked parsnips provide about 2 grams of protein in a one-cup serving. Even though parsnips are low in protein, the high amounts of fiber they contain will slow their digestion, leading to increased satiety (that sensation of feeling fuller for longer).

Micronutrients Parsnips

You will find plenty of vitamins and minerals packed into parsnips. One cup of cooked parsnips offers nearly 34 percent of your daily vitamin C needs and 8 percent of vitamin E. Both of these vitamins help circulation and skin integrity. They also act to fight inflammation and protect healthy cells as powerful antioxidants.

These root veggies also contain a wide variety of B-vitamins, nutrients responsible for converting food into energy. One of the most plentiful B-vitamins found in parsnips is folate—one cup brings in 22 percent of the daily allotment. Folate is responsible for manufacturing genetic material within the body and allows for proper cell division.

As for minerals, parsnips are equally impressive. Magnesium, potassium, copper, and phosphorus are all present, with a minimum of 10 percent of the daily value for each of these minerals per serving. All of these minerals work together to help keep muscles, bones, and blood in tip-top shape. 

Health Benefits

This low-calorie vegetable has plenty to offer in the nutrition department. In addition to being incredibly versatile in recipes, eating more parsnips does a body good. With fiber to curb appetite and regulate digestion, plus high doses of several vitamins and minerals in a relatively small portion, parsnips are an under appreciated superfood.

One of the most interesting characteristics about parsnips is their mild, yet undeniable sweetness. Since parsnips are most often harvested in the fall and winter months, the cooler temps and mild ground frosts help these veggies develop their natural sugars. For this reason, parsnips have been used to make everything from sugar alternatives to beer throughout the world since ancient Greek and Roman times.

Common Questions

Are parsnips related to carrots?

It may be easy to mistake parsnips for carrots initially but once you take a closer look you can see that parsnips are firmer and harder than most carrots.

Can you eat parsnips raw?

While parsnips are fairly easy to identify, many minds are boggled when it comes to preparing them. Another head scratcher is since most recipes call for cooking parsnips, is it safe or desirable to eat them raw?

While it is less common to do so, you can eat parsnips raw. They are earthier and not as sweet as the cooked version and 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. 

Recipes and Preparation Tips

Since they are grown in the dirt, it is easy to identify grit and grime that is stuck in the tiny grooves on the outer skin of parsnips. To clean, give them a good scrub and trim away the tough stem; use a sharp vegetable peeler to slice away the tough outer skin. Underneath you will unveil a creamy, white flesh and ​unleash a slightly floral scent.

To help balance out the earthy 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 at their best when they are cooked and they can be prepared in several low maintenance ways. Chop and toss in a pot of generously salted boiling water or simmering broth until tender or use in the same fashion to punch up the flavor in vegetable broth.

Once they are tender, drain and mash until creamy with olive oil and a handful of chopped fresh herbs. Roasted parsnips achieve golden, caramelized goodness when you toss with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and roast at 400 degrees F.

Follow this method after cutting parsnips into thin strips for a much healthier take on baked French fries. Add roughly chopped parsnips to a ​sheet pan of roasted vegetables, a roasting pan with whole chicken or a casserole of pot roast or beef stew.

To revitalize leftovers combine boiled or roasted parsnips with simmering broth and then puree in a blender for a velvety parsnip soup. For an extra layer of creaminess, stir in a splash of cream or Greek yogurt. For a vegan version of this soup, blend with a handful of cashews.

Allergies and Interactions

According to the American Academy of Asthma, Allergy and Immunology, some people who come into contact with parsnips can predispose you to a phototoxic reaction—a burning or stinging sensation after exposure to the sun.

Parsnips may also cause hives or allergic contact dermatitis with itching, burning skin and/or swelling of the mouth lips and tongue. If you suspect that you are allergic to parsnips, contact your healthcare provider.

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