Parsnip vs. Potato — Health Impact and Nutrition Comparison
Parsnips are richer in fiber, calcium, selenium, vitamin C, vitamin B3, vitamin K, folate, and vitamin E.
On the other hand, potatoes provide more potassium, iron, protein, and vitamin B3. Potatoes also have a lower glycemic index.
Table of contents
Parsnip is a taproot vegetable that is native to the Eurasian plateau. Parsnip was cultivated by the Romans and was used as a natural sweetener in their diets before using cane sugar. It is a taproot vegetable that resembles carrots and is creamy white. This vegetable was introduced to the North Americas by the French settlers.
Potato is a root vegetable, similar to parsnip. It is native to the American continent. The potato plant was domesticated between 10000 and 7000 BC as they tried to make the potato plant into an edible version of its wild type. This highlights its integration into the human diet for nearly 12000 years. Nowadays, potatoes are one of the most consumed vegetables worldwide. They are one of the most versatile foods in every household, and without potatoes, we would have never enjoyed fries.
What are the actual differences?
There are some general differences when it comes to comparing these foods. The price, shelf life, culinary world usage, and taste are from those.
They both have long shelf lives when stored properly. Potatoes can have a longer shelf life lasting for a few months when stored properly.
Culinary world usage
Parsnip is a versatile food that can be cooked and added to stews and soups; some even bake parsnips and season them with herbs and spices. On the other hand, potatoes are more versatile and can be used in numerous ways. They can be boiled, fried, baked, or grilled. Potatoes are also associated with stews and soups. Even potatoes can be used in alcoholic beverage preparations.
Parsnips look like carrots since they are taproot vegetables and have a sweet earthy flavor with a solid texture before cooking. After cooking, the flavors are enriched, but it becomes softer.
On the other hand, potatoes have a starchy flavor (depending on the type of potatoes). They have different tastes when fried, boiled, or grilled. Both are white to white-yellow.
Note that the default serving size in this part is considered 100g unless written otherwise.
As the chart below shows, parsnip contains slightly more water than potatoes. Instead, potato is more affluent in carbohydrates and protein. Please, check the corresponding paragraphs for more detailed information.
Per 100g of each, potatoes contain more carbs compared to parsnips. While potatoes have 21g of carbohydrates, parsnips contain only 18g.
Potatoes are extremely rich in starch. Parsnips contain 4 times more sugar. Hence they may seem sweeter.
Parsnips contain more fiber than potatoes, and the amount is double for parsnips. Parsnips are rich in both soluble and insoluble fiber.
Parsnips have 4.9g of fiber per 100g, while potatoes have 2.2g of fiber.
Although it is essential to mention that part of the fibers is lost during the boiling process or exposing the foods to high temperatures, this is mostly the case for potatoes.
Both foods contain negligible amounts of fats.
Since they are plants, they are devoid of cholesterol.
Potatoes are richer in proteins; however, these amounts are meager to consider. They are classified as low-protein foods.
Parsnips are lower in calories than potatoes. Parsnips contain 75 calories, whereas potatoes have 77 calories per 100g. They are within low-caloric foods.
Parsnip has a higher glycemic index than potatoes. Parsnip has a glycemic index equal to 97, which is very high compared to potato, which has a glycemic index 86. Both these foods have high glycemic indices.
Parsnip is more affluent in calcium, zinc, copper, and selenium.
In comparison, potatoes are richer in potassium. Noting that they are both deficient in sodium.
Below is the comparative diagram that highlights their mineral distributions.
Parsnip is richer in vitamins C, B1, B5, K, folate, and E. On the other hand, potato is richer in vitamins B3 and B6.
Since most eating methods involve a cooking process that exposes the potato to high temperatures, it is, to some extent, unavailable once it is ready to eat.
Below is the comparative diagram of their vitamin profiles.
Diets and Weight Loss
Parsnips and potatoes are vegetables and part of the vegan diet. It is also important to mention that some plant-based burgers use potatoes as an alternative to meat. This can also be applied to other foods where meat has to be replaced with a plant-based alternative.
Since they are high in carbs and have a high glycemic index, they are not part of the keto diet.
Bodybuilders consume boiled potatoes as a carb in association with their protein intake. Potatoes' high carb and high glycemic index can be used in this manner beneficially as it provides a surge of glucose and a quick boost of energy. However, some bodybuilders prefer consuming carbs with a lower glycemic index.
If consumed in a healthy manner and in moderation, potatoes, meaning that not deep-fried or pan-fried with any fat, don't pose any risk to cardiovascular health and the cardiometabolic system. However, there was an increased risk of chronic cardiovascular diseases when consuming fried potatoes. (1)
On the other hand, parsnip provides hypotensive properties to the cardiovascular system, which positively affects the cardiovascular system. They provide a better flow of blood to the heart muscles, thus, in turn, preventing or reducing risks of ischemic heart diseases and the same for overall system circulation where it provides vasodilation which prevents congestion and hypertensive diseases. (2)
Foods high in carbs and a higher glycemic index are associated with uncontrolled glucose concentrations in the blood. The most important feature is glucose control in type 2 diabetic patients. Thus it is essential to avoid foods with a high glycemic index in prediabetes or type 2 diabetes. (3)
Consumption of potatoes in boiled or fried states increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. When it comes to boiled potatoes, the risks are null to very low in moderation. (1)
According to the study, parsnip compounds may have apoptotic and neutralizing roles over cancer cells, such as leukemic cell lines, lungs, prostate, etc. (4)
There is no association between potato consumption and the risk of cancer. Although some preparation methods might differ, the case of fried potatoes with various oils can increase the risk of developing different types of cancer. In those cases, it is essential to consider all the variables. (5)
Research shows that parsnips' antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds may help to reduce oxidative stress and local or system inflammation. This, in turn, decreases many primarily chronic diseases, like arthritis, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases. (6)
Potatoes have the property of decreasing biomarkers of inflammation which in turn provides anti-inflammatory characteristics. (7)
Parsnips decrease spasms of smooth muscles in the overall human body. It has antispasmodic properties. It reduces the spasm of the intestines, urogenital tract, and, most importantly, bronchospasm, which is important in asthma. (8)
Phytophotodermatitis is a condition that comes after touching wild parsnip leaves and being exposed to the sun. The UV and the compounds in the plant irritate and burn the skin, causing phytophotodermatitis. (9)
Fat Type Comparison
Comparison summary table
|Lower in Sugar|
|Lower in Saturated Fat|
|Lower in Glycemic Index|
|Lower in price|
|Rich in minerals|
|Rich in vitamins|
|Lower in Sodium||Equal|
|Lower in Cholesterol||Equal|
All nutrients comparison - raw data values
|Vitamin A RAE||0µg||1µg|
Which food is preferable for your diet?
|Low Fats diet|
|Low Carbs diet|
|Low Calories diet|
|Low Glycemic Index diet|
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Vitamins & Minerals Daily Need Coverage Score
All the values for which the sources are not specified explicitly are taken from FDA’s Food Central. The exact link to the food presented on this page can be found below.
- Parsnip - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170417/nutrients
- Potato - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170093/nutrients
All the Daily Values are presented for males aged 31-50, for 2000-calorie diets.