Saturday, 31 January 2015

The Health Benefits of Parsnip

parsnips 

Parsnips nutrition facts

Parsnips are sweet, succulent underground taproots closely related to the carrot family of vegetables. They have similar appearance and growth characteristics as other Apiaceae family members like carrots, parsley, celery, cumin, dill, etc. Botanically, they belong to the Umbelliferae (Apiaceae) family, in the genus, Pastinaca.

Pastinaca sativa is a biennial cool season crop native to Mediterranean region. In the first year, it grows about 1-1.5 meter tall and bears underground taproots which are generally harvested after the first-frost of the season. If left undisturbed, the plant develops umbrella-shaped clusters of small yellow flowers, and seeds during the next season.
Its fleshy, stout roots appear as that of carrots, but are white or cream in color and sweeter than that of carrots. Adequate winter frost is essential for good crop production since it facilitates convertion of much of its starch into sugars and helps develop long, narrow, and firm parsnips. The roots generally harvested when they reach about six to ten inches in length, by pulling the entire plant along with its root (uprooting) as in carrots.

Health benefits of parsnips

  • Generally, parsnip contains more sugar than carrots, radish, turnips. It has calories (100 g provide 75 calories) comparable to that of some fruits like banana, and  grapes. Nonetheless, its sweet, juicy root is rich in several health-benefiting phyto-nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
  • It is one of the excellent sources of soluble and insoluble dietary fiber. 100 g root provides 4.9 mg or 13% of fiber. Adequate fiber in the diet helps reduce blood cholesterol levels, obesity and constipation conditions.
  • As in carrots and other members of apiaceae family vegetables, parsnip too contains many poly-acetylene anti-oxidants such as falcarinol, falcarindiol, panaxydiol, and methyl-falcarindiol.
  • Several research studies from scientists at University of Newcastle at Tyne found that these compounds have anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, and anti-cancer function and offer protection from colon cancer and acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL).
  • Fresh roots are also good in vitamin-C; provide about 17 mg or 28% of RDA. Vitamin-C is a powerful water-soluble anti-oxidant, easily available to us from natural sources. It helps the human body maintain healthy connective tissue, teeth, and gum. Its anti-oxidant property helps protect from diseases and cancers by scavenging harmful free radicals from the body.
  • Further, the root is rich in many B-complex groups of vitamins such as folic acid, vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine), thiamin, and pantothenic acid as well as vitamin K and vitamin E.
  • In addition, it also has healthy levels of minerals like iron, calcium, copper, potassium, manganese and phosphorus. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps controlling heart rate and blood pressure by countering effects of sodium.

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