Turnip vs. Parsnip — Health Impact and Nutrition Comparison
While turnips are particularly rich in vitamin C, parsnips are higher in vitamin K. Turnips also have a lower glycemic index.
Parsnips contain higher amounts of fiber, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, vitamin E, and folate. They also have less sodium and saturated fats.
Table of contents
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 higher 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.
Both parsnips and turnips have no cholesterol. Parsnips contain more monounsaturated fats (although limited in quantity), while turnips have more polyunsaturated fats (also in minimal quantities). Parsnips contain 2.72 times more fiber compared to turnips.
Parsnips have 2 times more calories than turnips. Parsnips have 75 calories per 100g, whereas turnips have only 28 calories.
Parsnips contain 2 times more potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, and 3 times more folate than turnips. They are also higher in iron, calcium, and zinc. Parsnips contain 85.1% less sodium compared to turnips.
Parsnips have more vitamin E, vitamin B3, vitamin B5, and folate. Moreover, they contain 22400% more vitamin K than turnips.
Meanwhile, turnips contain more vitamin C.
Parsnips are 2.8 times higher in carbohydrates than turnips. 18% of the daily carbohydrate need is covered by 300g of parsnips, while only 6% is covered by 300g of turnips.
Turnips contain fewer sugars (a difference of 1g).
Parsnips are higher in protein than turnips. 7% of daily protein needs are covered by 300g of parsnips. On the other hand, 5% of protein’s daily needs are covered by 300g of turnips.
Weight Loss and Diets
Turnips are preferred over parsnips in low-calorie, low-fat, low-carb, and low-glycemic index diets.
Both foods are low in carbohydrates and calories and are, therefore, consumed on low-carb and low-calorie 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. Such foods that are rich in water also help the individual feel fuller and may lead to increased weight loss (1).
Parsnips and turnips are also both recommended in the DASH diet, which 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).
Moreover, turnips contain 1.8g of fiber per 100g portion (4). Fiber affects cardiovascular disease risk factors beneficially (5).
Likewise, parsnips may also have valuable cardiovascular effects.
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 beneficial effects 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).
The dietary fiber contained in these vegetables may also play a role in decreasing the risk of diabetes (10). The fiber contained in both of these foods helps improve insulin sensitivity (5).
A study suggests that turnips may play an important role in the prevention of type 2 diabetes mellitus (11). Another study demonstrated that turnip leaf extract plays a role in decreasing blood sugar levels (12).
Similarly, parsnips may aid in preventing the development of type 2 diabetes because of their richness in antioxidants (13).
Thus, parsnips and turnips may aid in the management and prevention of type 2 diabetes.
According to the National Foundation for Cancer Research, turnips are rich in carotenoids that decrease the risk of some cancers (14).
Turnips are cruciferous vegetables. Regular cruciferous vegetable consumption leads to a decrease in the risk of lung cancer as well as colorectal cancer (15).
Turnips also contain phytochemical compounds known as glucosinolates (16). Intake of isothiocyanates (hydrolysis product of glucosinolate) may have a protective effect against cancer (17). Cooking methods may alter the bioavailability of glucosinolates (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 turnips) (18).
Parsnips may also play a role in the prevention of some cancers. Turnips and parsnips are rich in vitamin C. Studies suggest that vitamin C has a role in inhibiting the process of tumor formation (19). Moreover, a study revealed that parsnips have cytotoxic abilities against cancer cells, meaning they may be toxic to cancer cells (20).
Downsides and Risks
Parsnips contain a type of phototoxic substance called psoralen (21). Phototoxicity is a cytotoxic reaction produced against skin cells due to the activation of phototoxic chemicals by light (22). These substances found in parsnips have been linked to photodermatitis (23). Parsnips could cause photodermatitis in some individuals (24).
Moreover, parsnips may be associated with oral allergy syndrome (25). Oral allergy syndrome is an allergic response in the mouth.
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) (26).
- Folic acid, a B vitamin, lowers stroke risk in people with high blood pressure
Fat Type Comparison
Comparison summary table
|Lower in Sugar|
|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|
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|
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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.
- Turnip - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170465/nutrients
- 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.