Parsnips are a root vegetable that is native to Eurasia and have been used extensively in that region since ancient times. This vegetable is closely related to carrots and parsley, and for that reason, it is often mistaken for carrots in historical records. Parsnip is hardy annual or biennial plant with a number of culinary applications. It was even used as a sweetening agent for foods before cane sugar became a major import to Europe. You will often find parsnips as the main vegetable dish in European nations, particularly in the United Kingdom, where “neeps and tatties” (parsnips and potatoes) are one of the most famous dishes in Scotland.
Parsnips can be eaten raw but most of the common culinary applications require the root vegetable to be cooked. While they are often substituted for carrots in recipes, they are slightly sweeter in taste than carrots, which makes them even more valuable and versatile. In the past, parsnips were even used in herbal medicine and as an aphrodisiac.
Not only are these root vegetables delicious and useful, but they are also packed with healthy nutrients that are essential for human health, including significant levels of certain key minerals:
- Potassium, manganese, magnesium, phosphorous, Zinc, and Iron, in addition to an impressive range of vitamins, including vitamin B, Vitamin C, E, and K, as well as high levels of Fiber, and some Protein.
Improve Heart Health
Parsnips contain a high level of potassium, which acts as a vasodilator and reduces blood pressure, as well as stress on the heart. The high levels of folate in parsnips are the perfect complement, as it reduces homocysteine levels in the blood, which is associated with a higher risk of heart diseases. While fruits and vegetables are always a good choice, parsnips make a huge impact on keeping cardiovascular system healthy.
Rich in Dietary Fiber
Parsnips have been praised for their high fiber content for many years, particularly because they are composed of soluble fiber, the variety that is closely associated with reducing cholesterol levels (further boosting heart health) and with a lower chance of developing diabetes. On top of that, dietary fiber is a key component of our digestive process, facilitating healthy movement of food through the digestive tract, a reduction in constipation, and the prevention of other gastrointestinal disorders.
Reduce Birth Defects
While folate was already mentioned in conjunction with a healthier heart, it is also important to note that folate (a member of the B-vitamin family) is also connected with reducing neural tube birth defects in infants and optimizing metabolic processes related to energy production and your nervous system.
As a low-calorie option with high levels of soluble fiber, parsnips fill you up and prevent the release of ghrelin, which is a “hunger” hormone. This can significantly reduce your likelihood of snacking between meals and help you with your weight loss goals. Also, the optimized digestive processes help you eliminate waste and get the most healthy nutrients from your food.
Boost Immune System
Parsnips are also packed with antioxidant vitamins and organic compounds that protect the body from foreign invaders, as well as toxic by-products from our own cellular metabolism. Vitamin C and E act as antioxidants in the body and eliminate or neutralize free radicals that can cause chronic diseases, including cancer. Vitamin C also stimulates the production of white blood cells to attack diseases and foreign microbes in the body, in addition to functioning as a key element in the production of collagen, which is a fundamental building block of our body.
Although the content of protein isn’t impressively high in them, the full range of minerals and vitamins in parsnips makes them an ideal snack or dietary addition. They can help to balance diets that may suffer from unpredictability or nutrient deficiency. Just as carrots are a great on-the-go snack, parsnips can similarly be a healthy option, rather than potato chips and junk food.