Properties and Benefits of Parsnip: A common garden vegetable, the parsnip is a wonderfully healthy combination of vitamins C and K, B vitamins, phosphorus, potassium and manganese. Its sweet flavor and creamy texture when cooked make it a delightful addition to any diet. Even more, the parsnip contains falcarinol and falcarindiol, two natural antioxidants with powerful anticancer properties. Animal studies performed at several reputable London universities suggest that falcarinol and falcarindiol may inhibit the progression of colon tumors and even prevent them from forming.
If this isn’t a good enough reason to start eating parsnip, then read further and convince yourselves of just how healthy parsnips really are. The parsnip (also known as Pastinaca sativa) is a root vegetable cultivated since ancient times. It is a close relative of the carrot, with which it shares its dashing good looks. Parsnips have an underground bulky main root, similar to a carrot, which represents the edible part of the vegetable.
Very important: the stem and its beautiful green leaves are to be handled with great care because their sap causes very unpleasant rashes as well as skin discoloration, even burns. The creamy-white root remains unaffected by the toxicity of the stem and leaves, and is thus safe for consumption.
More important, parsnips (meaning the root part) concentrate vitamins, minerals, powerful antioxidants and phytochemicals with wonderful health benefits. For instance, parsnips are a great source of dietary fiber, indigestible plant material which can help reduce cholesterol levels and cure constipation.
Fiber prevents the intestinal absorption of the fats ingested, indirectly reducing cholesterol. In addition to this, a diet consisting of fiber-rich foods helps the stool pass through the intestines more quickly. Eating parsnip is not only a natural way of relieving constipation, but it can also help protect against colon cancer.
As far as its anticancer properties are concerned, the parsnip contains falcarinol, farcalindiol, methyl-falcarindiol and panaxydiol. These antioxidant natural substances are found in some members of the Apiaceae family like parsnip, carrots and parsley, and are potent anti-inflammatory, antifungal and anticancer agents which can protect against colon cancer and acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Ongoing research suggests that falcarinol and farcalindiol can efficiently inhibit tumor growth and have proved to be efficient against colon tumors especially.
As you can see in the nutritional table below, parsnips boast a variety of vitamins and minerals which all contribute to a great health. For instance, 100 g of fresh parsnip (root) provides 29% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin C. Vitamin C stimulates immunity, protects against bacterial infections, reduces inflammation and helps increase appetite, as well as nutrient absorption, particularly iron.
But remember: when you cook parsnip for too long, it loses most of its vitamin C content. If you wish to enjoy these wonderful health benefits vitamin C provides, try adding some fresh, grated parsnip to a salad you enjoy. Parsnips are also a great source of vitamins K and E. Vitamin K helps blood coagulation and supports strong, healthy bones. Vitamin E is great for the skin and promotes physical and cognitive development in children.
Other important vitamins present in parsnips are the following B vitamins: folate, pantothenic acid, pyridoxine and thiamin. Parsnips provide a variety of dietary minerals such as potassium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese and phosphorus. Potassium regulates blood pressure and body fluids while magnesium supports muscle activity and optimizes calcium absorption. Copper prevents premature graying and manganese has powerful antioxidant properties.
Overall, parsnips are very healthy vegetables and can prove extremely versatile in the kitchen. They can be added to salads and casseroles or be made into mouth-watering pancakes or roasted alongside carrots as a wonderful side-dish. Because of their starchy content, parsnips help thicken soups. Interesting fact: during winter frosts, the plant turns some of its starch into sugar; picking parsnips after winter frosts ensures sweeter roots.
The parsnip is a biennial plant. If left to mature, it will develop small, yellow flowers which can be collected and used to plant an entire parsnip garden. Because they have a moderate caloric content (about 75 kcal/100 g of fresh root), extremely low fat content (less than 1%) and are about 80% water, parsnips can be consumed without fear of gaining weight. However, always remember that most fruits and vegetables have the highest concentration of phytochemicals in their skin. This is also true for parsnip, which is why it would be best to wash it carefully and cook it whole.