Properties of parsnip

Nutritional  properties of parsnip

What are the main nutritional benefits of parsnip?

Nutritionally, we could say that parsnip is similar to other vegetables, with a nutritional composition similar to that of carrots.

It is a root rich in carbohydrates (18%), in the form of starches, which are the main form of energy reserve for plants. Parsnip, in cold climates, is capable of transforming part of its starches into sugars, and for this reason it is sweeter than carrots.

Furthermore, it has a very high fiber content (5%), contains practically no protein (1%), and its fat content is almost zero.

Of its mineral content,  we should  highlight the high contribution in potassium, a very important nutrient for the heart and kidneys.

Among the vitamins, its content in vitamin C and folic acid (vitamin B9) stands out, an important component for the health of the heart, athletes and diet during pregnancy.

Where and how to buy parsnips?

Parsnips can be purchased at markets and vegetable and fruit stores. It is a crop that is usually available during the fall and winter. The fresh roots are turgid and hard.

Which are the bests parsnips and how to store them?

If they bend easily, are wrinkled, or appear bruised, they should not be purchased. It is also better to consume them as soon as possible and not keep them for more than ten days in the refrigerator, since then they begin to soften and diminish their flavor.

How is parsnip consumed?

recipe fried parsnip chip
Parsnip chips: cut into thin slices and fried in olive oil.

Before the introduction of  potatoes, parsnips, along with turnips, were widely consumed foods in Europe. Progressively, its use in the kitchen has been decreasing, increasing consumption of potatoes. Among the main preparations:

  • Broths and stews: Currently, parsnips are usually consumed in broths, which provide a distinguished aroma. It is also used for meat and fish stews, accompanied by aromatic herbs.
  • Parsnip chips: More recently, cooking parsnip has re-established, so,  recipes as rich as parsnip chips are quite common, a delicious starter with fewer carbs than potato chips or sweet potato chips.
  • Vegetable creams and other: It can also be consumed in vegetable creams, with peas or other legumes, and in any preparation, taking into account that it has a fairly aromatic flavor.

Nutritional differences between parsnips and potatoes

Parsnip has fewer carbohydrates than the tuber of  potato plant and it is therefore more suitable for people with problems with the metabolism of these nutrients, such as obesity, menopause or diabetes.

The cooking time for parsnips is shorter than for potatoes. It should also be noted that its flavor is very different, since, while the potato is quite neutral, the parsnip is a quite aromatic ingredient.

Medicinal properties of parsnip

Medicinal components of parsnip

parsnip plant
Parsnip plant, a crop

In addition to its nutrient content, parsnip has other substances, called phytochemicals, that contribute more properties than purely food to this food. Among its phytochemicals it is worth mentioning its essential oil (88% composed of terpinolene and myristicin), and to a lesser extent, mono and sesquiterpenes.

Other very prominent components of the root are its content in quercitin, lignans (of the type: secoisolariciresinol and matairestinol) and furanocoumarins (such as bergapten).

Parsnip aroma properties

The parsnip essential oil, although it is found in little concentration in the root, is the one that provides much of its aromatic flavor, and may have some effect on the body.

This essential oil is rich in terpinolene, with antioxidant, antinitrosaminic properties; and in myristicin, with analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antidepressant, diuretic and uterotonic properties.

Certain components of its essential oil, mainly myristicin, can produce psychoactive, hypnotic or even hallucinogenic effects, although it contains them in such a small amount, that this effect is unlikely to occur.

Parsnip for the digestive system

Parsnip sold in a marketplace

Parsnip is a great food for the digestive system, because it is light and easy to digest, and because it provides a large amount of fiber with prebiotic properties, to increase the healthy intestinal flora of our intestines. Eating parsnip is appropriate after episodes of diarrhea or taking antibiotics, to help regenerate the intestinal flora.

In addition to fiber, the parsnip root also has sulfur components with antiseptic properties that help control intestinal putrefactions, being, overall, a very suitable food in cases of constipation.

Complementing this effect, the essential oils of the plant, mainly terpinolene, decrease the formation of nitrosamines in the intestine, components that are produced during digestion in the intestine of red meat and processed meat, closely related to cancer of colon.

Parsnip for cholesterol

Parsnip is really a very fibrous food, due to its high fiber content (5g per 100g). A large parsnip (200g) contains 10g of fiber, equivalent to ⅓ of all the recommended fiber per day. This vegetable contains as much fiber as 5 times more fiber than lettuce, or twice as much fiber as a carrot.

Due to the undoubted role that fiber has in lowering cholesterol, the consumption of this food is highly recommended in people who must lower their blood lipid level. As always, within some healthy diet guidelines.

A diet rich in fiber, with plant foods such as parsnips, in addition to lowering high cholesterol levels, prevents obesity and associated diseases such as type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer.

Parsnip as a diuretic food

Parsnip is very rich in diuretic and antioxidant components, among which is its essential oil and its high potassium content. These components are very suitable to help the kidneys and the liver to eliminate substances from the body, such as excess sodium, which when accumulated produces fluid retention.

Parsnip for hypertension and heart disease

In case of hypertension, it is recommended to increase the contribution in potassium, magnesium and calcium (all of them intervene in the contraction of the muscles, such as the heart muscle). Of these three minerals, parsnip is very rich in potassium and magnesium, being another suitable vegetable in the diet for hypertension, especially if you take medications for hypertension, which increase the elimination of potassium.

For the same reason, it is a food that is recommended in diets for athletes.

properties of parsnip parsnip sativa
Medicinal properties of parsnip and its possible benefits. They are a very nutritious food that is consumed as a vegetable.

Parsnip in Traditional Chinese Medicine

Traditional Chinese Medicine attributes parsnips properties to warm the body. Due to its natural sweet flavor, it nourishes the earth element, represented by the stomach, spleen and pancreas.

This is consistent with food color theory, which attributes properties for the digestive system to foods that are yellow or orange in color, such as parsnips.


punto rojo More information on parsnip

This article was endorsed by Elisenda Carballido - Dietitian nutritionist. Postgraduate in Phytotherapy and master in Nutrition and Metabolism.
Written by Editorial Botanical-online team in charge of content writing

27 March, 2020

Other interesting articles

This material is for informational purposes only. In case of doubt, consult the doctor.
"Botanical-online" is not responsible for damages caused by self-medication.