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Feeding and Diet

Parsnips nutrition facts

Parsnips are closely related to carrots family of vegetables; grown for their sweet, succulent underground taproots. The root vegetable has similar appearance and growth characteristics as other apiaceae family members like carrots, parsley, celery, cumin, dill etc. Botanically, they belong to the umbelliferae (apiaceae) family of the genus: Pastinaca.

Scientific name: Pastinaca sativa.Pastinaca sativa is a biennial cool season crop native to Mediterranean region. In the first year, it grows about 1-1.5 meter tall and bears underground taproots, which are generally harvested after the first frost of the season. If left undisturbed, the plant develops umbrella-shaped clusters of small yellow flowers and seeds during the next season.

Its fleshy, stout roots appear like that of carrots, but are white or cream in color and sweeter than that of carrots. Good winter frost is essential for better crop, as frost converts much of the starch to sugars and helps develop long, firm parsnips. The roots are generally harvested when they reach about six to ten inches long, by pulling the entire plant with its root (uprooting) as in carrots.

Health benefits of parsnips

  • Generally, parsnip contains more sugar than carrots, radish, turnips. In general, it has calories (100 g provide 75 calories) comparable to that of some fruits like banana, grapes etc. Nonetheless, its sweet, juicy root is rich in several health-benefiting phyto-nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

  • It is one of the excellent sources of soluble and insoluble dietary fiber. 100 g root provides 4.9 mg or 13% of fiber. Adequate fiber in the diet helps reduce blood cholesterol levels, obesity and constipation conditions.

  • As in carrots and other members of apiaceae family vegetables, parsnip too contains many poly-acetylene anti-oxidants such as falcarinol, falcarindiol, panaxydiol, and methyl-falcarindiol.

  • Several research studies from scientists at University of Newcastle at Tyne found that these compounds have anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, and anti-cancer function and offer protection from colon cancer and acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL).

  • Fresh roots are also good in vitamin C; provide about 17 mg or 28% of RDA. Vitamin C is a powerful water-soluble anti-oxidant, easily available to us from natural sources. It helps body maintain healthy connective tissue, teeth, and gum. Its anti-oxidant property helps protect from diseases and cancers by scavenging harmful free radicals from the body.

  • Further, the root is rich in many B-complex groups of vitamins such as folic acid, vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine), thiamin, and pantothenic acid as well as vitamin K and vitamin E.

  • In addition, it also has healthy levels of minerals like iron, calcium, copper, potassium, manganese and phosphorus. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps controlling heart rate and blood pressure by countering effects of sodium.

Principle Nutrient Value Percentage of RDA
Energy 75 Kcal 4%
Carbohydrates 17.99 g 14%
Protein 1.20 g 2%
Total Fat 0.30 g 1%
Cholesterol 0 mg 0%
Dietary Fiber 4.9 g 13%
Vitamins

Folates 67 ?g 17%
Niacin 0.700 mg 4%
Pantothenic acid 0.600 mg 12%
Pyridoxine 0.90 mg 7%
Riboflavin 0.050 mg 4%
Thiamin 0.090 mg 7.5%
Vitamin A 0 IU 0%
Vitamin C 17 mg 29%
Vitamin K 22.5 ?g 19%
Electrolytes

Sodium 10 mg <1%
Potassium 375 mg 8%
Minerals

Calcium 36 mg 3.5%
Copper 0.120 mg 13%
Iron 0.59 mg 7.5%
Magnesium 29 mg 7%
Manganese 0.560 mg 24%
Phosphorus 71 mg 10%
Selenium 1.8 ?g 3%
Zinc 0.59 mg 5%
Phyto-nutrients

Carotene-? 0 ?g --
Carotene-? 0 ?g --
Crypto-xanthin-? 0 ?g --
Lutein-zeaxanthin 0 ?g --

Selection and storage

In the Northern Europe, parsnips season begins soon after the first frost and last until March, when fresh arrivals flood the markets. It is not uncommon to find parsnips and carrots grown by many families in their home garden during the season.

In the markets select fresh, firm, fleshy, medium size, even surfaced parsnips. Avoid long, thin, and tail like roots, as they are stringy and less sought after in cooking. Also, avoid, woody, over-mature ones, as they are off-flavored. Do not buy soft, shriveled, pitted, knobby, or damaged roots.

Store parsnips in a plastic bag and place in the vegetable drawer of the refrigerator set between 0?C and 5? C. Do not place raw parsnips in the freezer compartment.

Preparation and serving methods

To prepare, wash them in cold water and scrub or gently peel the skin. Trim off the ends. Cut into cubes, disc, and pieces as you desire.

Tender parsnips cooked in a similar way like carrots. Do not overcook; indeed, they cook early as they contain more sugar than starch.

Here are some serving tips:

  • Raw parsnips add unique sweet taste to salads, coleslaw, and toppings.

  • Cooked and mashed with potato, leeks, cauliflower etc.

  • Slices and cubes added to stews, soups, and stir-fries and served with poultry, fish, and meat.

  • It can be used in breads, pies, casseroles, cakes etc in a variety of savory dishes.