Parsnip vs Carrot - Health impact and Nutrition Comparison
Carrots and parsnips are root vegetables belonging to the Apiaceae family (family of parsley and celery). Parsnips are richer in minerals. They are cheaper than carrots with a difference of around 0.4$. These vegetables may have a long shelf life given they are stored in a cool place in a way to avoid the loss of their moisture content (1). Both vegetables can be consumed in a variety of ways such as baked, boiled, fried, sauteed, roasted, steamed, and grilled. Both carrots and parsnips are packed with nutrients, antioxidants, and fiber. With increased awareness about a healthy lifestyle nowadays, carrots and parsnips are becoming popular root vegetables. They are easy additions to one’s diet. Let’s compare and contrast visuals to discuss how these two items are nutritionally similar or different along with the benefits associated with these foods.
Different carrots have distinct tastes. These flavors range from bitter to sweet. Usually, carrots are generally sweet. On the other hand, parsnips have a spicy sweetness taste. Both carrots and parsnips have hardy wood-like hard structures when raw.
WEIGHT LOSS AND DIETS
Since parsnips and carrots are low in calories and high in fiber they contribute to satiety. They allow one to feel full, thus reducing the number of snacks between meals (by inhibiting the production of ghrelin hormone). Lower energy density allows for a higher volume of food to be consumed. This helps people feel fuller while consuming fewer calories. Moreover, eating foods rich in fiber helps stabilize blood sugar and prevent crashes. Carrots are preferred over parsnips in low calories, low fats, low carbs, and low glycemic index diets.
We will refer to the infographics to compare the nutritional content of carrots and parsnips. Mineral comparison score is given according to the number of minerals by which one food or another is richer. Carrot was given a score of 0 while parsnip was given a score of 8. Parsnip has more iron, potassium, magnesium, copper, zinc, and phosphorus. Parsnip contains 85.5% less sodium compared to carrot. Both food items are equal in their calcium content. Vitamin comparison score shows the number of vitamins by which one or another food is richer. Carrot received a vitamin score of 4 while parsnip received a vitamin score of 6. Carrot is richer in vitamin B3, vitamin B6, and vitamin B2. Meanwhile, parsnip is richer in vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin B1, vitamin B5, and vitamin K. It is worthy of noting that parsnips contain 252.6% more folate than carrots. Finally, 100 g of carrots contains 16706 IU of vitamin A (provitamin A carotenoid), while 100 g of parsnips contains none. Both foods are very low in fats. Parsnips contain 1.75 times more fiber than carrots.
Parsnips are around 1.82 times higher in calories compared to carrots.
Parsnips are 1.88 times higher in carbohydrates than carrots. 18% of daily carbohydrate needs are covered by 300 g of parsnips while only 10% are covered by 300 g of carrots. Carrots contain fewer sugars.
Parsnips are higher in protein than carrots. 7% of daily carbohydrate needs are covered by 300 g of parsnips. On the other hand, 6% of protein’s daily needs are covered by 300 g of carrots.
Carrot is lower in glycemic index compared to parsnip. The difference in glycemic index is 13 GI units.
Studies show that high beta-carotene levels found in carrots may protect against cardiovascular disease (2). Moreover, another study explored the effects of carrot juice on cardiovascular health (3). The results revealed that consuming 16 fluid ounces of freshly squeezed carrot juice for three months enhances the cardiovascular system by increasing the body’s antioxidant status (3). The results also showed the cardioprotective function of carrot juice by the mechanism of reduced lipid peroxidation (3). Carrot extracts have shown to lower the risk of myocardial infarction in rats (4). Furthermore, a study showed an inverse relationship between consumption of beta-carotene rich fruits and vegetables and cardiovascular disease-related mortality (5).
Likewise, parsnips have a high potassium content. It is understood that by reducing blood pressure and controlling heart rate, potassium protects heart health. Additionally, parsnips are rich in folate. Folate reduces the odds of having a stroke (6). Moreover, parsnips have a high fiber content. Adequate fiber in the diet helps reduce the odds of cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease (7). In conclusion, parsnips and carrots have cardioprotective and heart health-promoting attributes.
A study showed that carrot powder prevented high blood sugar in type 1 diabetic rats (8). Carrots are non-starchy vegetables. According to the American Diabetes Association, half of one’s plate can be filled with carrots as weight loss and knowing what to eat are essential to regulating blood sugar in type two diabetic patients (9). Regarding parsnips, they are high in antioxidants. It has been hypothesized that antioxidants have a preventive effect on the development of diabetes type 2 (10). Moreover, both parsnips and carrots are high in fiber. Fiber helps regulate blood sugar levels.
A study explored the effect of high carrot consumption (32 g of raw carrot per day) on the risk of colorectal cancer. The results showed that there was a 17% decrease in the risk of colorectal cancer given this high consumption. A meta-analysis indicated that high consumption of carrot may decrease the risk of breast cancer (11). Furthermore, a study revealed that carrot consumption could be inversely correlated with the odds of prostate cancer (12). Parsnips may also play a role in the prevention of cancer. According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, parsnips contain cancer-fighting folate (13). The smaller the parsnip, the more the antioxidant level (14). Moreover, vitamin C is an antioxidant with free-radical scavenging activity. Thus, it protects from cancer. The fact that parsnips are rich in vitamin C may indicate their role in cancer prevention. A study showed the possible chemoprotective effects of polyacetylenes extracted from carrot and parsnip and their cytotoxic activities (15). Therefore, to a certain extent, parsnips and carrots may have chemoprotective and cancer-preventing effects.
There have been reports of phytophotodermatitis when picking parsnips (16). Phytophotodermatitis (PPD) is a skin-related inflammatory response that occurs as a result of a class of compounds known as furanocoumarins reacting in the presence of light causing skin rashes (17). PPD can be also caused by many vegetables of the carrot family (17). A study showed that carrot extract containing sunscreen may lead to PPD (18). A study has confirmed the allergenicity of carrots by means of a double-blinded placebo-controlled food challenge (19).
Carrots are rich in vitamin A. Overconsumption of vitamin A may lead to toxicity as this vitamin is a fat-soluble one. It’s important to note that the toxicity is mainly triggered by the overuse of vitamin A supplementation and not by the overconsumption of the carrot itself.
Both carrots and parsnips are rich in biologically active substances that contribute to one’s health. Parsnips are richer in minerals. Carrots are recommended for people following a low fat, low carb, low calorie, or low glycemic index diets. These foods have been shown to have anti-cancer and anti-diabetic effects. In a nutshell, these foods are great inclusions in one’s diet.
Vitamin and Mineral Summary Scores
Comparison summary table
|Lower in Sodium|
|Lower in price|
|Rich in minerals|
|Lower in Sugar|
|Lower in Saturated Fat|
|Lower in glycemic index|
|Lower in Cholesterol||Equal|
|Rich in vitamins||Equal|
Which food is preferable for your diet?
|Low Calories diet|
|Low Fats diet|
|Low Carbs diet|
|Low glycemic index diet|
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All nutrients comparison - raw data values