With a long narrow, knobby body and a tuft of green leaves, the parsnip could easily be confused for an anemic version of the carrot.
The missing link, if you will, is beta-carotene, the compound responsible for giving carrots their golden hue. But rest assured, parsnips have plenty of nutritional power. For example, the parsnip boasts a high volume of insoluble fiber, which is important for a healthy digestive system as well as for regulating cholesterol and reducing blood sugar fluctuations. It is also a good source of potassium, which helps reduce the risk of kidney stones. The vegetable’s high folic acid content, meanwhile, can help reduce the risk of heart disease, osteoporosis and dementia and, for pregnant women, decrease the likelihood of birth defects. Rounding out parsnip’s nutritional power punch, its high vitamin C content has been associated with improved lung function—and even a reduction in asthma symptoms in children—and also gives skin a healthy glow.
With lower sugar content than its orange-hued friend, parsnips can serve as a low calorie substitute in fruit and vegetable juices, soups—especially sweeter varieties with apple— and bisques. Other recipes, meanwhile, recommend roasting parsnips or using them as a substitute in otherwise bland potato dishes.