Parsnips are a popular winter vegetable, and a traditional Christmas dinner vegetable in many parts of the world. It’s a root vegetable that looks like a white carrot, and can be used in a similar fashion. It can be baked, boiled, pureed into a soup, and much more. Parsnip root can also be mistaken as parsley root because they look remarkably similar, however, these two roots (from the same family) taste nothing alike. Parsnip nutrition is not distinctly unique either. It is related to carrots, celery, and parsley, and shares many of the same amazing health benefits.
One noticeable difference between a parsnip and its cousins is how sweet this root vegetable can be, especially when baked. It is a great addition to any mix of root vegetables you may normally serve during the fall/winter.
Parsnips are available from the fall through the spring, so they are a great choice during the cool months.
The cool temperatures of late fall can sweeten parsnips, enhancing the flavour. However, if you leave them in the ground too long they will become woody and tough to eat.
While parsnip may taste quite sweet, they are relatively low in sugars. A 100g serving contains 18g of carbohydrates, 4.8g of that come from sugar.
Parsnips are a great source of dietary fibre (4.9g per 100g serving). What is extra great about this is that most of the fibre is soluble.
When soluble fibre absorbs water it expands into a soft, mushy consistency that easily makes its way through the digestive tract.
Soluble fibre can help stabilize blood sugar levels, minimizing the sugar the body absorbs, and in turn minimizes the amount of insulin the body has to release. In fact, the consumption rate of dietary fibre has an inverse risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes. That’s because less sugar and less insulin mean there is a lower risk of developing insulin resistance.
Parsnips are also a good source of folate, manganese, potassium, vitamin C, and vitamin K.
Potassium is an electrolyte, arguably the most important electrolyte because we require so much of it, and it is necessary for so many aspects of living. Parsnip is a good source of potassium, and it is important to get potassium-rich foods in your diet to provide your body with the energy it needs to function. Click here to learn more about the important of potassium and good whole food source of this important electrolyte.
Manganese is another important mineral that you find in vegetables. It is used as an antioxidant in the body. Manganese antioxidants help protect the body from oxidative stress. In fact, when enzymatic antioxidants fail to completely protect you from oxidative stress, manganese antioxidants are able to pick up the slack and protect cells from reactive oxygen species. This mineral is unique in this regard. This slows the aging process, and overall deterioration of the body.
Vitamin K1 is an important nutrient found in plants. It is a coagulant, and a vitamin K1 deficiency will result in heavy or uncontrollable bleeding, bruising, and anemia.
Vitamin C is an antioxidant vitamin that fights disease and stress in the body. It can help prevent illness, and can significantly reduce inflammation in the body.
Folate helps with DNA and RNA replication, and is an essential vitamin for breaking down amino acids. It can also prevent the cellular damage that leads to cancer, and helps keep damaged cells from replicating.
This can be a difficult vegetable to grow, specifically to germinate. Germinating indoors can speed up the process and make it a little easier, but this can still be a more challenging crop for a novice gardener. They are prone to many pests and fungal diseases. Unless you are willing to put in the work you may want to stick to buying parsnips from your local organic farmer.
You should be cautious if you plan to grow your own parsnips. While the root of the plant is healthy and good for you, you’ll want to be careful when handling the foliage. The greens of the plant contain a natural protective toxicity that can cause a rash similar to that caused by poison ivy. For the most part reactions to the plant are minimal, however, they do range to far more severe redness, burning, and blistering.
While parsnips may resemble several other vegetables, it’s still important to diversify the foods we eat to get the best blend of nutrients possible. Try adding parsnip to your list of root vegetables to eat this winter!