Turnip vs Parsnip - Health impact and Nutrition Comparison
Parsnips are a relative of the carrot and celery. They belong to the Apiaceae family. Turnips are a relative of the cabbage and belong to the Brassicaceae family. They are both root vegetables that are rich in nutrients. Both foods are usually pale (white in color). Both items should be hard when raw, without any discoloration or cuts and bruises. Moreover, both items are equal in price. Parsnips are relatively more packed with vitamins and minerals but have a lower glycemic index. We will further discuss and compare the nutritional components, health benefits, and health concerns that each food possesses.
Parsnips are sweet tasting like carrots. On the other hand, turnips are not that sweet. Smaller turnips are sweeter, while larger ones are spicier and more piquant.
Observing the infographics will allow us to compare the nutrition content of parsnips and turnips. The mineral comparison score is given according to the number of minerals by which one food or another is richer. Turnip was given a score of 0 while parsnip was given a score of 8. Parsnip contains more iron, calcium, potassium, magnesium, copper, zinc, and phosphorus. Parsnips contain 85.1% less sodium compared to turnips. The vitamin comparison score reveals the number of vitamins by which one or another food is richer in. Turnip received a vitamin score of 1 while parsnip received a vitamin score of 7. Parsnips have more vitamin E, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin B3, vitamin B5, and folate. Moreover, they contain 22400% more vitamin K than turnips. Meanwhile, turnips contain more vitamin C. Both food items are equal in vitamin B6. Both parsnips and turnips have no cholesterol. Parsnips contain more monounsaturated fats (although limited in quantity), while turnips have more polyunsaturated fats (also in very limited quantities). Parsnips contain 2.72 times more fiber compared to turnips.
Parsnips are around 2.68 times higher in calories compared to turnips.
Parsnips are 2.8 times higher in carbohydrates than turnips. 18% of daily carbohydrate needs are covered by 300 g of parsnips while only 6% are covered by 300 g of turnips. Turnips contain fewer sugars (a difference of 1 g).
Parsnips are higher in protein than turnips. 7% of daily protein needs are covered by 300 g of parsnips On the other hand 5% of protein’s daily needs are covered by 300 g of turnips.
Parsnip has a lower glycemic index compared to a turnip. The difference in glycemic index is 21 GI units.
WEIGHT LOSS AND DIETS
Turnips are preferred over parsnips in low calories, low fat, and low carbs diets. On the other hand, in low glycemic index diets, parsnips are recommended over turnips. Both foods are low in carbohydrates and calories and are therefore consumed in diets that are low in carbohydrates, low-calorie diets, and low glycemic index diets. In the Keto diet, these root vegetables can be consumed as potato substitutes. Moreover, both parsnips and turnips are high in fiber. Fiber helps one stay fuller for longer. Furthermore, eating foods high in fiber helps keep one’s blood sugar steady. Furthermore, such foods that are rich in water also helps the individual feel fuller and may lead to increased weight loss (1). Also, parsnips and turnips are both recommended in the DASH diet that is mainly adopted to lower blood pressure (2).
Turnips are considered to be in the medium range for nitrate content (3). Dietary nitrate has been associated with cardiovascular benefits. Some of these benefits include reduced blood pressure. The consumption of nitrate-rich vegetables lowers cardiovascular risk (3). Moving on, turnips contain 1.8 g of fiber per 100 g portion (4). Fiber affects cardiovascular disease risk factors beneficially (5).
Likewise, parsnips may also have valuable cardiovascular attributes. Additionally, parsnips are high in potassium. It is known that potassium protects heart health by lowering blood pressure. Furthermore, parsnips are rich in folate. Folate decreases one’s risk of having a stroke (6). Therefore, turnips and parsnips may contribute to cardiovascular health.
Flavonoids such as kaempferol and quercetin glycosides were found in turnip extracts (7). These compounds have beneficial effects on diabetic patients. For instance, kaempferol possesses an antidiabetic power by enhancing glucose metabolism (8). Also, quercetin has been shown to have antidiabetic potential by affecting glucose utilization and insulin sensitization (9). Dietary fiber contained in these vegetables may play a role in decreasing the risk of diabetes (10). A study suggests that turnips may play an important role in the prevention of type 2 diabetes mellitus (11). Moreover, another study demonstrated that turnip leaf extract plays a role in the decrease of blood sugar levels (12).
Similarly, parsnips may aid in preventing the development of type two diabetes because of their richness in antioxidants (13). Furthermore, the fiber contained in both of these foods helps improve insulin sensitivity (14). Accordingly, parsnips and turnips may aid in the management and/or prevention of type two diabetes.
According to the National Foundation for Cancer Research, turnips are rich in caroteinoids which decrease the risk of some cancers (15). Also, turnips are cruciferous vegetables. Regular cruciferous vegetables consumption leads to a decrease in the risk of lung cancer as well as colorectal cancer (16). Turnips contain phytochemical compounds known as glucosinolates (17). Cooking methods may alter the bioavailability of glucosinolates (18). Intake of isothiocyanates (hydrolysis product of glucosinolate) may have a protective effect against cancer (18). Some epidemiological studies have shown a decrease in the risk of colon and rectal cancer upon the consumption of cruciferous vegetables (among which are the turnips) (19). Parsnips may also play a role in prevention of some cancers. Turnips and parsnips are rich in vitamin C. Studies suggest that vitamin C has a role in the inhibition of the process of tumor formation (20). Moreover, a study revealed that parsnips have cytotoxic abilities against cancer cells meaning they may be toxic to cancer cells (21).
Parsnips contain a type of phototoxic substance called psoralen (22). Phototoxicity is a cytotoxic reaction produced against skin cells due to the activation of phototoxic chemicals by light (23). These substances found in parsnip have been linked to photodermatitis (24). Parsnip could cause photodermatitis in some individuals (25). Moreover, parsnips may be associated with oral allergy syndrome (26). Oral allergy syndrome is an allergic response in the mouth (26).
By the same token, turnips may also be associated with allergic reactions. One case study showed that handling turnip greens (leaves of the turnip) may trigger allergic reactions (particularly contact allergy) (27).
In a nutshell, both parsnips and turnips are nutrient rich vegetables. Parsnips are richer in minerals. While turnips are particularly rich in vitamin C, parsnips are higher in vitamin K. Both food items can be protective against cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer. They may also be associated with some allergic reactions. Finally, these foods can be a great addition to one’s diet.
Vitamin and Mineral Summary Scores
Comparison summary table
|Lower in Sugars|
|Lower in Saturated Fat|
|Lower in glycemic index|
|Lower in Sodium|
|Rich in minerals|
|Rich in vitamins|
|Lower in Cholesterol||Equal|
|Lower in price||Equal|
Which food is preferable in case of diets?
|Low Calories diet|
|Low Fats diet|
|Low Carbs diet|
|Low glycemic index diet|
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All nutrients comparison - raw data values