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Parsnip vs Daikon - Health impact and Nutrition Comparison

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Parsnip
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Daikon

Introduction

Have you ever wondered if daikon and parsnip are the same, or can you substitute daikon for parsnip? If yes, here you can find the answers to these and other important questions, such as what are the differences between these vegetables, their impact on your health, and so on.

What’s The Actual Difference?

Daikons and parsnips are similar in appearance, however, they have different textures, tastes, and affiliations. The main difference between parsnip and radish is that parsnip is a biennial plant that belongs to the family Apiaceae, whereas radish is a plant of the Brassicaceae family, having an edible root. Daikon tastes like red radish, it contains more water than parsnips. Parsnips have white skin, they are similar in texture to carrots, although not so sweet.

Varieties

Daikon, also known as mooli,  belongs to the Raphanus genus. This is a winter radish that is usually characterized by long white roots and fast-growing leaves. The most common types of daikon are French Breakfast Radish and Daikon White Radish. The parsnip belongs to the Pastinaca genus, it is a root vegetable related to the carrot. This vegetable is native to Eurasia and was used as a sweetener before the cane sugar. The most known parsnip types are the Hollow Crown and Harris Model.

Taste and Use

Daikons have a peppery flavor, sometimes the taste tends to be milder depending on growing conditions. Unlike daikons, parsnips have a spicy sweetness taste. Both daikon and parsnip have wood-like hard structures when raw.

Both daikon and parsnip can be eaten in a variety of ways such as baked, boiled, fried, sauteed, roasted, steamed, and grilled. They are easy additions to a healthy diet.

Nutrition

In this section, we are going to look into the differences between the nutrients of daikons and parsnip. Below you can find the nutrition infographics that visually show the differences between these vegetables.

Micronutrients

Daikon consists of about 95% water, whereas parsnip consists of about 80% water.
The content of micronutrients of parsnips is higher than that of daikon. Parsnips have more protein, carbs, fiber, and monounsaturated fats than daikons. These vegetables lack trans fat.

Vitamins

The vitamin content of parsnip is richer than that of daikon. Parsnip contains 74 times more Vitamin K, 3 times more Vitamin B5, and Vitamin B1, 2 times more Vitamin B3. It is also richer in Vitamin B6, Vitamin E, and Folate. On the other hand, daikon contains more Vitamin C.

Minerals

Overall, parsnips are richer in minerals than daikon. It contains 3 times more zinc, 2 times more phosphorus, more iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and less sodium than daikon. Both vegetables contain equal levels of copper.

Glycemic Index

The glycemic index of parsnip is almost 3 times higher than that of daikon. The GI of parsnip is equal to 97, whereas the GI of daikon is equal to 32. Daikon is considered low glycemic index food, and parsnip is considered high glycemic index food.

Acidity

The average PH value of daikon falls in the range of  -5.3 - 5.7, whereas the PH value of daikon is equal to 7.5. Daikon is more alkaline than a parsnip. Now let’s have a look at the potential renal acid load. The PRAL value of food shows how much acid or alkali a given food produces when broken down in the body. The PRAL value of daikon is -4.4, while the PRAL value of parsnip is equal to -5.9. This indicates that these vegetables in the body are more alkaline.

Calories

The number of calories of parsnips is 4 times higher than that of daikon. Daikon has 18 calories per 100g, while parsnip has 75 calories per 100g.

Health Impact

The nutritional values are presented for raw daikons and raw parsnip.

Weight Loss and Diets

Eating low-calorie, high-fiber foods can help you maintain a healthy weight or lose weight. In this case, daikons have a lower number of calories than parsnips, therefore they are a good choice in the case of a low calories diet. Moreover, daikon also is a great choice in the case of low fats, low carbs diets.
Both daikon and parsnip are considered non-starchy vegetables, which means they are very low in carbs. Studies show that eating non-starchy vegetables can promote a healthy body weight [1].

Cardiovascular Health

Overall, vegetable consumption has been linked to a lower risk of heart and other chronic diseases.
Daikon and parsnip are highly nutritious vegetables, rich in powerful plant compounds, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. These compounds may protect your body from disease. Besides, parsnips are rich in potassium vitamin C, which may balance your blood pressure. These vegetables are also rich in natural nitrates that improve blood flow [2].
The high levels of folate in parsnip can also reduce homocysteine levels in the blood, which are associated with higher risks of heart diseases [3].

Cancer

According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, parsnip contains cancer-fighting folate.  Moreover, they are rich in sulforaphane, which research has shown is effective in fighting breast, colon, prostate, and ovarian cancers. Parsnip is also a great source of Vitamin C, which is an antioxidant with free-radical scavenging activity. Thus, it protects against cancer.  According to one study, polyacetylenes extracted from parsnips have possible chemoprotective effects and cytotoxic activity [4].

Diabetes

Daikons are low-calorie, high-fiber vegetables, they contain chemical compounds called glucosinolate and isothiocyanate that may help regulate blood sugar levels. Daikon contains coenzyme Q10, an antioxidant that may help block the formation of diabetes [4].

According to several studies, there’s a direct link between the consumption of fiber-rich foods, such as parsnips, and a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes. One cup of parsnips contains 7 grams of soluble fiber, which may help to lower cholesterol levels and regulate blood sugar [5].  

Boost Immune System

Research shows that the compound falcarindiol (FAD), found in parsnips, may stop immune cells from reaching maturity. This ability of parsnips can be used in new therapies for the treatment of autoimmune and allergic diseases.
On the other hand, daikon is a great source of Vitamin C. 100 grams of daikon contains 22 mg of Vitamin C, which is 30% of the RDA. Vitamin C is mainly found in the leaves of plants [5].

Bone Health

Parsnips contain a decent amount of magnesium and calcium, two essential minerals for bone development. A cup of chopped parsnips contains over 45 milligrams of magnesium. At the recommended daily intake for most adults of 320-420 mg, parsnips easily provide more than 10% of their magnesium needs [6].

Side Effects

Daikons are presumed to be relatively safe vegetables. However, they might not be suitable for those suffering from gallstones. People with impaired thyroid function can minimize the risk of negative effects by cooking them and increasing their selenium intake [7]. 

Parsnip is relatively safe when applied to the skin. Nevertheless, when it is used on the skin, parsnip can cause the skin to become extra sensitive to the sun.

Summary

Parsnips are richer in minerals, vitamins, contain less sodium and are cheaper than daikons. They have 3 times more zinc, phosphorus, and 7 times more Vitamin K. On the other hand, daikons contain more Vitamin C, lower in calories, saturated fats, and sugars than parsnips.

References

  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27174619/
  2. Health benefits of herbs and spices
  3. Health attributes of roots and tubers
  4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21114468/
  5. https://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/27/2/362
  6. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1111/mcn.12368
  7. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13596-015-0183-9
Article author photo Elen Khachatrian
Profession: Nutrition & Microbiology at YSU
Last updated: August 10, 2021

Infographic

Parsnip vs Daikon infographic
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Mineral Comparison

Mineral comparison score is based on the number of minerals by which one or the other food is richer. The "coverage" chart below show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food
:
0
Daikon
Contains more Iron +47.5%
Contains more Calcium +33.3%
Contains more Potassium +65.2%
Contains more Magnesium +81.3%
Contains more Zinc +293.3%
Contains more Phosphorus +208.7%
Contains less Sodium -52.4%
Equal in Copper - 0.115
Iron Calcium Potassium Magnesium Copper Zinc Phosphorus Sodium 23% 11% 34% 21% 40% 17% 31% 2%
Iron Calcium Potassium Magnesium Copper Zinc Phosphorus Sodium 15% 9% 21% 12% 39% 5% 10% 3%
Contains more Iron +47.5%
Contains more Calcium +33.3%
Contains more Potassium +65.2%
Contains more Magnesium +81.3%
Contains more Zinc +293.3%
Contains more Phosphorus +208.7%
Contains less Sodium -52.4%
Equal in Copper - 0.115

Vitamin Comparison

Vitamin comparison score is based on the number of vitamins by which one or the other food is richer. The "coverage" chart below show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food
:
1
Daikon
Contains more Vitamin E +∞%
Contains more Vitamin B1 +350%
Contains more Vitamin B2 +150%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +250%
Contains more Vitamin B5 +334.8%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +95.7%
Contains more Vitamin K +7400%
Contains more Folate +139.3%
Contains more Vitamin C +29.4%
Vitamin C Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Vitamin B12 Vitamin K Folate 57% 0% 30% 0% 23% 12% 14% 36% 21% 0% 57% 51%
Vitamin C Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Vitamin B12 Vitamin K Folate 74% 0% 0% 0% 5% 5% 4% 9% 11% 0% 1% 22%
Contains more Vitamin E +∞%
Contains more Vitamin B1 +350%
Contains more Vitamin B2 +150%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +250%
Contains more Vitamin B5 +334.8%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +95.7%
Contains more Vitamin K +7400%
Contains more Folate +139.3%
Contains more Vitamin C +29.4%

Vitamin and Mineral Summary Scores

The summary score is calculated by summing up the daily values contained in 300 grams of the product. Obviously the more the food fulfills human daily needs, the more the summary score is.
Vitamin Summary Score
25
Parsnip
11
Daikon
Mineral Summary Score
22
Parsnip
14
Daikon

Macronutrients Comparison

Macronutrient comparison charts compare the amount of protein, total fats, and total carbohydrates in 300 grams of the food. The displayed values show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of food.
Protein
7%
Parsnip
4%
Daikon
Carbohydrates
18%
Parsnip
4%
Daikon
Fats
1%
Parsnip
0%
Daikon

Comparison summary table

Pay attention to the most right column. It shows the amounts side by side, making it easier to realize the amount of difference.
Parsnip Daikon
Lower in Sodium ok
Lower in price ok
Rich in minerals ok
Rich in vitamins ok
Lower in Sugar ok
Lower in Saturated Fat ok
Lower in glycemic index ok
Lower in Cholesterol Equal

Which food is preferable for your diet?

ok
ok
is better in case of low diet
Parsnip Daikon
Low Calories diet ok
Low Fats diet ok
Low Carbs diet ok
Low glycemic index diet ok

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Comparison summary

Which food contains less Sodium?
Parsnip
Parsnip contains less Sodium (difference - 11mg)
Which food is cheaper?
Parsnip
Parsnip is cheaper (difference - $0.2)
Which food is richer in minerals?
Parsnip
Parsnip is relatively richer in minerals
Which food is richer in vitamins?
Parsnip
Parsnip is relatively richer in vitamins
Which food is lower in Sugar?
Daikon
Daikon is lower in Sugar (difference - 2.3g)
Which food is lower in Saturated Fat?
Daikon
Daikon is lower in Saturated Fat (difference - 0.02g)
Which food is lower in glycemic index?
Daikon
Daikon is lower in glycemic index (difference - 65)
Which food contains less Cholesterol?
?
The foods are relatively equal in Cholesterol (0 mg)

All nutrients comparison - raw data values

Nutrient Parsnip Daikon Opinion
Calories 75 18 Parsnip
Protein 1.2 0.6 Parsnip
Fats 0.3 0.1 Parsnip
Vitamin C 17 22 Daikon
Carbs 17.99 4.1 Parsnip
Cholesterol 0 0
Vitamin D 0 0
Iron 0.59 0.4 Parsnip
Calcium 36 27 Parsnip
Potassium 375 227 Parsnip
Magnesium 29 16 Parsnip
Sugar 4.8 2.5 Daikon
Fiber 4.9 1.6 Parsnip
Copper 0.12 0.115 Parsnip
Zinc 0.59 0.15 Parsnip
Starch
Phosphorus 71 23 Parsnip
Sodium 10 21 Parsnip
Vitamin A 0 0
Vitamin E 1.49 0 Parsnip
Vitamin D 0 0
Vitamin B1 0.09 0.02 Parsnip
Vitamin B2 0.05 0.02 Parsnip
Vitamin B3 0.7 0.2 Parsnip
Vitamin B5 0.6 0.138 Parsnip
Vitamin B6 0.09 0.046 Parsnip
Vitamin B12 0 0
Vitamin K 22.5 0.3 Parsnip
Folate 67 28 Parsnip
Trans Fat 0 0
Saturated Fat 0.05 0.03 Daikon
Monounsaturated Fat 0.112 0.017 Parsnip
Polyunsaturated fat 0.047 0.045 Parsnip
Tryptophan 0.003 Daikon
Threonine 0.025 Daikon
Isoleucine 0.026 Daikon
Leucine 0.031 Daikon
Lysine 0.03 Daikon
Methionine 0.006 Daikon
Phenylalanine 0.02 Daikon
Valine 0.028 Daikon
Histidine 0.011 Daikon
Fructose

References

The source of all the nutrient values on the page (excluding the main article the sources for which are presented separately if present) is the USDA's FoodCentral. The exact links to the foods presented on this page can be found below.

  1. Parsnip - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170417/nutrients
  2. Daikon - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/168451/nutrients

All the Daily Values are presented for males aged 31-50, for 2000 calorie diets.

Data provided by FoodStruct.com should be considered and used as information only. Please consult your physician before beginning any diet.