Potato vs Parsnip - Health impact and Nutrition Comparison
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.
Table of contents
- What are the actual differences?
- Nutritional data comparison
- Diets and weight loss
- Health impacts
- Cardiovascular health
- Antioxidative and anti-inflammatory characteristics
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.
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.
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.
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.
Parsnip and potatoes have similar amounts of calories. Parsnips contain 75 calories, whereas potatoes are 77. 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 of 86. Both these foods have high glycemic indices.
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.
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.
Both foods contain negligible amounts of fats.
Since they are plants, they are devoid of cholesterol.
Potatoes are richer in proteins; however, both these amounts are very low to take into consideration. They are classified as low protein foods.
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.
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.
Diets and weight loss
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.
Since they are high 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. 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.
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.
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)
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)
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)
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)
Comparison summary table
|Lower in Sugar|
|Lower in Sodium|
|Lower in Saturated Fat|
|Lower in glycemic index|
|Lower in price|
|Rich in minerals|
|Lower in Cholesterol||Equal|
|Rich in vitamins||Equal|
All nutrients comparison - raw data values
Which food is preferable for your diet?
|Low Fats diet|
|Low Carbs diet|
|Low Calories diet|
|Low glycemic index diet|