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Potato vs Parsnip - Health impact and Nutrition Comparison

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Potato
vs
Parsnip

Summary

Parsnip is an underrated and overlooked vegetable richer in fibers, phosphorus, zinc, copper, and magnesium, and vitamins B1, B5, K, folate, and E. On the other hand, potatoes are richer in potassium, iron, and vitamins B3, B6, and C. Potatoes have a lower glycemic index.

Introduction

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 the usage of cane sugar for that purpose. It is a taproot vegetable that resembles carrots and has a creamy white color. This vegetable was introduced to the North Americas by the French settlers.

It is important to know about its toxic effects on the skin, discussed in the health impacts section.

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.

In this article, we will discuss the difference between parsnips and potatoes according to general differences, nutritional content differences, diet and weight loss impacts, and health impacts.

What are the actual differences?

There are some general differences when it comes to comparing both these foods. From those are the price, shelf life, culinary world usage, and taste.

Price

Potatoes are cheaper than parsnips and are available yearlong in all the regions of the world. They are considered one of the cheapest food sources available all around.

Shelf life

They both have long shelf lives when stored properly. Potatoes can have a longer shelf life which can last for a couple of 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 it 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, grilled. Potatoes are also associated with stews and soups. Even potatoes can be used in alcoholic beverage preparations.

Taste

Parsnips look like carrots since they are taproot vegetables, but they taste nothing like carrots. They 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 types of potatoes). They have different tastes in the case of fried, boiled, or grilled. Both are white to white-yellow in color.

Nutritional data comparison

In this part of the text, we will compare the macronutrient and micronutrient aspects of both these foods. Note that the default serving size in this part is considered 100g unless written otherwise.

Calories

Parsnip and potatoes have similar amounts of calories. Parsnips contain 75 calories, whereas potatoes are 77. They are within low caloric foods.

Glycemic index

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 of 86. Both these foods have high glycemic indices.

Carbs

Parsnips and potatoes have a similar content of carbs. They are high in carbs, and they have nearly 18g of carbs per 100g of each. These carbs also constitute the number of fibers.

Fiber

Parsnips contain more fibers than potatoes, and the amount is double for parsnips. Although it is important to mention that part of the fibers is lost during the boiling process or exposing the foods at high temperatures, this is mostly the case for potatoes.

Fats

Both foods contain negligible amounts of fats.

Cholesterol

Since they are plants, they are devoid of cholesterol.

Proteins

Potatoes are richer in proteins; however, both these amounts are very low to take into consideration. They are classified as low protein foods.

Minerals

Parsnip is richer in phosphorus, zinc, copper, and magnesium. In comparison, potatoes are richer in potassium and iron. Noting that they are both very low in sodium.

Below is the comparative diagram that highlights their mineral distributions.

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
Potato
3
:
Contains more Iron +37.3%
Contains more Potassium +13.3%
Contains less Sodium -40%
Contains more Calcium +200%
Contains more Magnesium +26.1%
Contains more Zinc +96.7%
Contains more Phosphorus +24.6%
Equal in Copper - 0.12
Iron Calcium Potassium Magnesium Copper Zinc Phosphorus Sodium 31% 4% 38% 17% 37% 9% 25% 1%
Iron Calcium Potassium Magnesium Copper Zinc Phosphorus Sodium 23% 11% 34% 21% 40% 17% 31% 2%
Contains more Iron +37.3%
Contains more Potassium +13.3%
Contains less Sodium -40%
Contains more Calcium +200%
Contains more Magnesium +26.1%
Contains more Zinc +96.7%
Contains more Phosphorus +24.6%
Equal in Copper - 0.12

Vitamins

Parsnip is richer in vitamins B1, B5, K, folate, and E. on the other hand, potato is richer in vitamins B3, B6, and C. However, the vitamin C content in potatoes is very remarkable since vitamin C is heat-labile, meaning that it gets destroyed when exposed to hot temperatures. Since most eating methods involve a cooking process that exposes the potato to high temperature, it is to some extent not very available once it is ready to eat.

Below is the comparative diagram of their vitamin profiles.

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
Potato
4
:
Contains more Vitamin C +15.9%
Contains more Vitamin A +∞%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +51.6%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +231.1%
Contains more Vitamin E +14800%
Contains more Vitamin B1 +11.1%
Contains more Vitamin B2 +56.3%
Contains more Vitamin B5 +103.4%
Contains more Vitamin K +1025%
Contains more Folate +346.7%
Vitamin C Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Vitamin B12 Vitamin K Folate 66% 1% 1% 0% 21% 8% 20% 18% 69% 0% 5% 12%
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%
Contains more Vitamin C +15.9%
Contains more Vitamin A +∞%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +51.6%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +231.1%
Contains more Vitamin E +14800%
Contains more Vitamin B1 +11.1%
Contains more Vitamin B2 +56.3%
Contains more Vitamin B5 +103.4%
Contains more Vitamin K +1025%
Contains more Folate +346.7%

Diets and weight loss

Vegan

Parsnip and potatoes are vegetables, and they are 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.

Keto

Since they are high carbs and have a high glycemic index, they are not part of the keto diet.

Bodybuilding

Bodybuilders consume boiled potatoes as a carb in association with their protein intake. The high carb and high glycemic index of potatoes can be used in this manner beneficially as it provides a surge of glucose and a quick boost of energy. However, some bodybuilders prefer to consume carbs that have a lower glycemic index.

Health impacts

Parsnips are one of the most underrated foods that have numerous health impacts. Most of these health impacts come from nutrients that are present in parsnip, from those are

Furanocoumarins, xanthotoxin, imperatorin, falcarinol, bergapten, psoralen, coumarins, and others.

These compounds provide most of the health benefits from which will be discussed further on.

Cardiovascular health

If consumed in a healthy manner and moderation, potatoes, meaning that not deep-fried or pan-fried with any type of fat, don’t pose any risk on cardiovascular health and the cardiometabolic system. However, there was an increase in risks of chronic cardiovascular diseases when consuming fried potatoes. (1)

On the other hand, parsnip provides hypotensive properties to the cardiovascular system, which has positive effects on 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)

Diabetes

Foods high in carbs and have a higher glycemic index are associated with uncontrolled glucose concentrations in the blood. The most important feature is the control of glucose in type 2 diabetic patients. Thus it is important 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, in moderation, the risks are null to very low. (1)

Cancer

Parsnip has helpful effects on cancer cells; the above-mentioned compounds have apoptotic and neutralizing roles over cancer cells, such as leukemic cell lines, lung, prostate, and others. (4)

There is no association between potato consumption and risks of cancers. Although some preparation methods might differ, the case of fried potatoes with various types of oils can increase the risk of developing different types of cancer. In those cases, it is important to take into consideration all the variables. (5)

Antioxidative and anti-inflammatory characteristics

Parsnips contain antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds that reduce oxidative stress and local or system inflammation. This, in turn, decreases many diseases that are mostly chronic, like arthritis, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases. (6)

Potatoes have the property of decreasing biomarkers of inflammation which in turn provides anti-inflammatory characteristics. (7)

Miscellaneous

Parsnips decrease spasms of smooth muscles in the overall human body. It has antispasmodic properties. Meaning that 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)

References

  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29987352/
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28215156/
  3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12081851/
  4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16520011/
  5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33861304/
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4469963/
  7. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23855880/
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8010426/
  9. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29630166/
Article author photo Jack  Yacoubian
Education: Haigazian Medical University
Last updated: October 18, 2021

Infographic

Potato vs Parsnip infographic
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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
18
Potato
25
Parsnip
Mineral Summary Score
20
Potato
22
Parsnip

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
12%
Potato
7%
Parsnip
Carbohydrates
17%
Potato
18%
Parsnip
Fats
0%
Potato
1%
Parsnip

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.
Potato Parsnip
Lower in Sugar ok
Lower in Sodium ok
Lower in Saturated Fat ok
Lower in glycemic index ok
Lower in price ok
Rich in minerals ok
Lower in Cholesterol Equal
Rich in vitamins Equal

Which food is preferable for your diet?

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

People also compare

Comparison summary

Which food is lower in Sugar?
Potato
Potato is lower in Sugar (difference - 3.98g)
Which food contains less Sodium?
Potato
Potato contains less Sodium (difference - 4mg)
Which food is lower in Saturated Fat?
Potato
Potato is lower in Saturated Fat (difference - 0.025g)
Which food is lower in glycemic index?
Potato
Potato is lower in glycemic index (difference - 11)
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 contains less Cholesterol?
?
The foods are relatively equal in Cholesterol (0 mg)
Which food is richer in vitamins?
?
It cannot be stated which food is richer in vitamins. See the charts below for detailed information. See the charts below for detailed information. See the charts below for detailed information.

All nutrients comparison - raw data values

Nutrient Potato Parsnip Opinion
Calories 77 75 Potato
Protein 2.05 1.2 Potato
Fats 0.09 0.3 Parsnip
Vitamin C 19.7 17 Potato
Net carbs 15.39 13.09 Potato
Carbs 17.49 17.99 Parsnip
Cholesterol 0 0
Vitamin D 0 0
Iron 0.81 0.59 Potato
Calcium 12 36 Parsnip
Potassium 425 375 Potato
Magnesium 23 29 Parsnip
Sugar 0.82 4.8 Potato
Fiber 2.1 4.9 Parsnip
Copper 0.11 0.12 Parsnip
Zinc 0.3 0.59 Parsnip
Starch 15.29 Potato
Phosphorus 57 71 Parsnip
Sodium 6 10 Potato
Vitamin A 2 0 Potato
Vitamin E 0.01 1.49 Parsnip
Vitamin D 0 0
Vitamin B1 0.081 0.09 Parsnip
Vitamin B2 0.032 0.05 Parsnip
Vitamin B3 1.061 0.7 Potato
Vitamin B5 0.295 0.6 Parsnip
Vitamin B6 0.298 0.09 Potato
Vitamin B12 0 0
Vitamin K 2 22.5 Parsnip
Folate 15 67 Parsnip
Trans Fat 0 0
Saturated Fat 0.025 0.05 Potato
Monounsaturated Fat 0.002 0.112 Parsnip
Polyunsaturated fat 0.042 0.047 Parsnip
Tryptophan 0.021 Potato
Threonine 0.067 Potato
Isoleucine 0.066 Potato
Leucine 0.098 Potato
Lysine 0.107 Potato
Methionine 0.032 Potato
Phenylalanine 0.081 Potato
Valine 0.103 Potato
Histidine 0.035 Potato
Fructose 0.26 Potato

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. Potato - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170026/nutrients
  2. Parsnip - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170417/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.