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Turnip vs Parsnip - Health impact and Nutrition Comparison

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Turnip
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Parsnip

INTRODUCTION

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.

FLAVOR

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.

NUTRITION

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.

CALORIES

Parsnips are around 2.68 times higher in calories compared to turnips.

CARBOHYDRATES

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).

PROTEIN

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.

GLYCEMIC INDEX

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).

 

HEALTH BENEFITS

CARDIOVASCULAR HEALTH

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.

DIABETES

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.

CANCER

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).

HEALTH RISKS

ALLERGY

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).   

SUMMARY

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.

SOURCES

  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10500012/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK482514/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3575935/
  4. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170465/nutrients
  5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16407729/
  6. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/folic-acid-a-b-vitamin-lowers-stroke-risk-in-people-with-high-blood-pressure-201503187810
  7. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16478258/
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6192519
  9. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27633685/
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3257631/
  11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4800080/
  12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4418064/
  13. https://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/27/2/362#   
  14. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16407729/
  15. https://www.nfcr.org/blog/root-vegetables-and-exotic-fruits-month-superfoods/
  16. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2737735/#
  17. https://www.mdpi.com/2304-8158/9/11/1719
  18. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2737735/
  19. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/mnfr.200800065
  20. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/8966286
  21. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15796588/
  22. http://eknygos.lsmuni.lt/springer/99/309-317.pdf 
  23. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4505355/
  24. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/333625250
  25. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29630166/
  26. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4655061/
  27.  https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0091674904009236
Article author photo Christelle  Tchakerian
Profession: Institute for Integrative Nutrition New York
Last updated: February 15, 2021

Infographic

Turnip vs Parsnip infographic
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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
Turnip
0
:
Contains more Iron +96.7%
Contains more Calcium +20%
Contains more Potassium +96.3%
Contains more Magnesium +163.6%
Contains more Copper +41.2%
Contains more Zinc +118.5%
Contains more Phosphorus +163%
Contains less Sodium -85.1%
Iron Calcium Potassium Magnesium Copper Zinc Phosphorus Sodium 12% 9% 17% 8% 29% 8% 12% 9%
Iron Calcium Potassium Magnesium Copper Zinc Phosphorus Sodium 23% 11% 34% 21% 40% 17% 31% 2%
Contains more Iron +96.7%
Contains more Calcium +20%
Contains more Potassium +96.3%
Contains more Magnesium +163.6%
Contains more Copper +41.2%
Contains more Zinc +118.5%
Contains more Phosphorus +163%
Contains less Sodium -85.1%

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
Turnip
1
:
Contains more Vitamin C +23.5%
Contains more Vitamin E +4866.7%
Contains more Vitamin B1 +125%
Contains more Vitamin B2 +66.7%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +75%
Contains more Vitamin B5 +200%
Contains more Vitamin K +22400%
Contains more Folate +346.7%
Equal in Vitamin B6 - 0.09
Vitamin C Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Vitamin B12 Vitamin K Folate 70% 0% 1% 0% 10% 7% 8% 12% 21% 0% 1% 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 +23.5%
Contains more Vitamin E +4866.7%
Contains more Vitamin B1 +125%
Contains more Vitamin B2 +66.7%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +75%
Contains more Vitamin B5 +200%
Contains more Vitamin K +22400%
Contains more Folate +346.7%
Equal in Vitamin B6 - 0.09

Vitamin and Mineral Summary Scores

Summary score is calculated by summing up the daily values contained in 300 grams of the product. Obviously the more the food fulfils human daily needs, the more the summary score is
Vitamin Summary Score
12
Turnip
25
Parsnip
Mineral Summary Score
13
Turnip
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 the food
Protein
5%
Turnip
7%
Parsnip
Carbohydrates
6%
Turnip
18%
Parsnip
Fats
0%
Turnip
1%
Parsnip

Comparison summary table

Pay attention at the most right column. It shows the amounts side by side, making it easier to realize the amount of difference.
Turnip Parsnip
Lower in Sugars ok
Lower in Saturated Fat ok
Lower in glycemic index ok
Lower in Sodium ok
Rich in minerals ok
Rich in vitamins ok
Lower in Cholesterol Equal
Lower in price Equal

Which food is preferable in case of diets?

ok
ok
is better in case of low diet
Turnip 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 contains less Sugars?
Turnip
Turnip contains less Sugars (difference - 1g)
Which food is lower in Saturated Fat?
Turnip
Turnip is lower in Saturated Fat (difference - 0.039g)
Which food is lower in glycemic index?
Turnip
Turnip is lower in glycemic index (difference - 24)
Which food contains less Sodium?
Parsnip
Parsnip contains less Sodium (difference - 57mg)
Which food is richer in minerals?
Parsnip
Parsnip is relatively richer in minerals
Which food is richer in vitamins?
Parsnip
Parsnip is relatively richer in vitamins
Which food contains less Cholesterol?
?
The foods are relatively equal in Cholesterol (0 mg)
Which food is cheaper?
?
The foods are relatively equal in price ($)

All nutrients comparison - raw data values

In the column "Opinion" we made some assumptions which could be controversial. For instance we are assuming that less saturated fats is good for you. Please ignore this column if you have your own opinion.We marked the nutrients, comparison of which we considered as not meaningful, as "N/A"
Nutrient Turnip Parsnip Opinion
Calories 28 75 Parsnip
Protein 0.9 1.2 Parsnip
Fats 0.1 0.3 Parsnip
Vitamin C 21 17 Turnip
Carbs 6.43 17.99 Parsnip
Cholesterol 0 0
Vitamin D 0 0
Iron 0.3 0.59 Parsnip
Calcium 30 36 Parsnip
Potassium 191 375 Parsnip
Magnesium 11 29 Parsnip
Sugars 3.8 4.8 Turnip
Fiber 1.8 4.9 Parsnip
Copper 0.085 0.12 Parsnip
Zinc 0.27 0.59 Parsnip
Starch
Phosphorus 27 71 Parsnip
Sodium 67 10 Parsnip
Vitamin A 0 0
Vitamin E 0.03 1.49 Parsnip
Vitamin D 0 0
Vitamin B1 0.04 0.09 Parsnip
Vitamin B2 0.03 0.05 Parsnip
Vitamin B3 0.4 0.7 Parsnip
Vitamin B5 0.2 0.6 Parsnip
Vitamin B6 0.09 0.09
Vitamin B12 0 0
Vitamin K 0.1 22.5 Parsnip
Folate 15 67 Parsnip
Trans Fat 0 0
Saturated Fat 0.011 0.05 Turnip
Monounsaturated Fat 0.006 0.112 Parsnip
Polyunsaturated fat 0.053 0.047 Turnip
Tryptophan 0.009 Turnip
Threonine 0.025 Turnip
Isoleucine 0.036 Turnip
Leucine 0.033 Turnip
Lysine 0.036 Turnip
Methionine 0.011 Turnip
Phenylalanine 0.017 Turnip
Valine 0.03 Turnip
Histidine 0.014 Turnip
Fructose

References

The source of all the nutrient values on the page (excluding the main article the sources for which are presented seperately if present) is the USDA's FoodCentral. The exact links of the foods presented on this page can be found below.

  1. Turnip - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170465/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.