Other Names of Parsnip: Pastinaca sativa
Useful Parts of the Plant: Roots
The parsnip plant has a thick fleshy root that is whitish or yellowish in color. The pulp of the root is succulent and flavorful and can be used in a multitude of dishes. Parsnip is native to the Mediterranean and is cultivated in much the same way as carrots i.e. the entire plant is pulled out with the roots. Parsnips are in facts members of the carrot family though they contain higher levels of health promoting vitamins and potassium than carrots.
When choosing parsnips look for tubers that are firm to touch and even colored. They stay fresh for four to five days if stored in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.
Nutritional Information and Properties
Parsnips are extremely high in soluble fiber that is responsible for lowering cholesterol levels and maintaining blood sugar balance. As a rich source of vitamin B and folic acid, parsnips can help reduce birth defects if eaten during pregnancy. Parsnips contain a high starch and sugar content. This makes them sweet to taste. In fact, parsnips were often used in sweet dishes during Elizabethan times. Parsnips also provide the body with potassium, manganese, niacin, thiamin, and some amounts of vitamin E. Parsnips are a low calorie (75 calories per 100 grams) addition to any meal and chock full of nutrients and minerals that can both improve health and combat a variety of diseases.
As with other members of the carrot family such as celery and parsley, parsnips are also rich in phytonutrients that may prevent certain types of cancers.
If you have sensitive skin or are prone to allergies, care should be taken when handling parsnip plants. Reactions such as contact dermatitis or Oral Allergy Syndrome may develop as a result.
There are no other significant uses of parsnips.