Parsnips have been cultivated along the Mediterranean and surrounding areas since ancient Roman times. It is a relative of carrots and turnips. It is used as a source of starch in stews and soups, as a sweetener in desserts, and even as a raw material used to make wine. This is because of the high content of sugars in the vegetable.
In many of the dishes that call for potatoes, they can easily be substituted with parsnips. They can be boiled, fried, baked, made into a puree, a cream soup or even steamed. They are also a wonderful addition to salads - grated or thinly sliced.
Because of the numerous health benefits they provide, they are a must for any menu. Just 3.5 oz (100 g) of the root vegetable contain 30% of the daily dose of vitamin C and K.
They are exceptionally important for the immune system, connective tissue, cardiovascular system, bone and gum health. Further, parsnips are a rich source of folic acid, essential for future mothers. High levels of potassium, manganese, magnesium and phosphorus are also contained therein.
One of the main components lacking in the daily menu of modern man is fiber. Parsnips contain about 1/3 of the daily recommended dose of vegetable fiber. These are the ones that protect against various types of cancer, obesity and diabetes, help control appetite and body weight, satiate hunger and decrease the levels of cholesterol in the blood.
Parsnips aid digestion and the development of gut flora. In folk medicine the vegetable is recommended as a treatment for the kidneys and excretory system, high blood pressure, bronchitis and anemia. This is mainly due to its diuretic and vasodilatory properties. It is considered an aphrodisiac.
Studies have shown that parsnips contain chemical compounds capable of destroying the tumor cells that form in the large intestine. Others have shown that it also contains substances that suppress the immune reactions of the body, making it a wonderful tool in the battle against a number of autoimmune and allergic conditions.
In raw form, as well as an extract, certain valuable antioxidants, such as falcarinol and panaxadiol, are obtained from it. Falcarinol has been proven slow the growth rate of cancer cells. The antioxidants, besides having an anti-cancerous effect, also have antifungal and anti-inflammatory functions.