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Are Parsnips Keto-Friendly?

Parsnips on a kitchen counter

Parsnips, while delicious and nutritionally beneficial, are not keto-friendly due to their high carb content.

It might come as a surprise, especially considering their similarities with other low-carb root vegetables.

However, in this article, we delve into the specifics of why parsnips pose a challenge for those following a keto diet.

We'll examine the carb content of parsnips, explore how their consumption affects a keto diet, and suggest some keto-compatible alternatives.

So, if you're wondering how to navigate the keto landscape while enjoying flavors similar to parsnips, read on for some useful insights and suggestions.


  • Parsnips are not keto-friendly due to their high net carbohydrate content and high glycemic index.
  • The high net carbs in parsnips make it difficult to maintain ketosis, a key aspect of the keto diet.
  • Despite their nutritional benefits, parsnips can cause challenges in a ketogenic diet and should be consumed with caution.

Are Parsnips Keto-Friendly?

Parsnips, despite their numerous nutritional benefits, are not considered keto-friendly. This determination primarily stems from their carbohydrate content, which is a crucial factor in evaluating a food's compatibility with the ketogenic diet.

Parsnips contain a significant amount of net carbohydrates, with 13.09 g per 100 g. This carbohydrate content is high, especially considering the strict carb limit of the ketogenic diet, which typically allows for about 20 to 50 g of net carbs per day. If you consume parsnips, they can contribute a substantial portion to this daily limit, which can make it challenging to stay within the guidelines of the keto diet.

Can You Have Parsnips On a Strict Keto Diet?

On a strict keto diet, where the daily carbohydrate intake is limited to less than 20g, incorporating parsnips into your meal plan would be challenging due to their high net carb content. A single serving of parsnips (100g) contains 13.09g of net carbs, which would account for a significant portion of the daily carb limit on a strict keto diet.

When following a slightly less restrictive low-carb or moderate ketogenic diet, where the daily net carb limit might be increased to between 30-50g, there's a bit more flexibility. However, even under these circumstances, consuming parsnips could still pose a challenge. The net carb content of parsnips can take up a substantial portion of the increased carb limit, leaving little room for other food items that also contain carbs.

Carbs In Parsnips

Parsnips have a notable amount of carbohydrates, with a significant portion being net carbs. Specifically, a typical serving size of 100g of parsnips contains 13.09g of net carbs. This is a substantial amount, particularly for those adhering to a ketogenic or low-carb diet.

In addition to the net carb content, it's also important to consider the glycemic index of parsnips, which is high at 85 [source]. The glycemic index is a measure of how quickly and significantly a food can raise blood sugar levels. A high glycemic index indicates that parsnips can potentially cause a more rapid and dramatic increase in blood sugar compared to foods with a lower index. This is another factor that may make parsnips less suitable for a strict ketogenic diet. Foods with a lower GI digest slowly, leading to a steady rise in blood sugar levels, whereas foods with a high GI are quickly digested, causing a rapid spike.

Parsnips Nutrition Facts

Parsnips, a root vegetable related to carrots, are powerhouses of nutrition. The nutritional data for a 100g serving of parsnips reveals a rich array of both macro and micronutrients.

To begin with, parsnips contain 17.99g of carbohydrates, with a large portion of these being net carbs (13.09g). These carbohydrates provide energy, measured at 314.0kJ for this serving size. This is complemented by a high water content of 79.53g, which helps keep the body hydrated.

Regarding macronutrients, parsnips may seem low in protein, with only 1.2g, and total lipid (fat) amounting to a mere 0.3g. However, they provide a good amount of fiber (4.9g), contributing to digestive health, and total sugars (4.8g), which offer a touch of natural sweetness.

In terms of micronutrients, it contains 36.0mg of Calcium, an essential mineral for bone health. Iron, pivotal for red blood cell function, is present at 0.59mg. Notably, potassium stands at 375.0mg, helping to maintain fluid balance in the body. Other minerals like magnesium, phosphorus, sodium, zinc, copper, manganese, and selenium are also found in varying amounts.

Among vitamins, parsnips contain vitamin C (17.0mg), which is crucial for immune function. They also provide a wide spectrum of B vitamins such as thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B-6, and folate, which are essential for energy production and brain function. Additionally, vitamin E and vitamin K are available in small amounts.

Not to be overlooked is the presence of different fatty acids. While saturated fats amount to a small 0.05g, there are higher levels of monounsaturated (0.112g) and polyunsaturated fats (0.047g), which are heart-healthy fats.

Nutrient NameAmount and Unit per 100 g
Net Carbs13.09g
Total lipid (fat)0.3g
Carbohydrate, by difference17.99g
Fiber, total dietary4.9g
Total Sugars4.8g
Calcium, Ca36.0mg
Iron, Fe0.59mg
Magnesium, Mg29.0mg
Phosphorus, P71.0mg
Potassium, K375.0mg
Sodium, Na10.0mg
Zinc, Zn0.59mg
Copper, Cu0.12mg
Manganese, Mn0.56mg
Selenium, Se1.8µg
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid17.0mg
Pantothenic acid0.6mg
Vitamin B-60.09mg
Folate, total67.0µg
Folate, food67.0µg
Folate, DFE67.0µg
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol)1.49mg
Vitamin K (phylloquinone)22.5µg
Fatty acids, total saturated0.05g
SFA 14:00.003g
SFA 16:00.03g
SFA 18:00.014g
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated0.112g
MUFA 16:10.003g
MUFA 18:10.102g
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated0.047g
PUFA 18:20.041g
PUFA 18:30.003g
Nutritional data is sourced from the US Department of Agriculture's FoodData Central system. Please see Cast Iron Keto's editorial and research standards for more information.

Health Implications of Parsnips on a Keto Diet

Including parsnips in a ketogenic diet can present challenges, primarily due to their high net carbohydrate content and high glycemic index. These factors can make it difficult to maintain a state of ketosis, which is key to the effectiveness of the ketogenic diet.

However, parsnips do have some nutritional benefits worth noting. They are a good source of several vitamins and minerals, including Vitamin C, Manganese, and Phosphorus. These nutrients contribute to overall health by supporting immune function, bone health, and energy metabolism, respectively.

Keto-Compatible Alternatives for Parsnips

  1. Cauliflower: A versatile vegetable that can be mashed, riced, or roasted as a low-carb alternative to parsnips. It's rich in vitamins C, K, and B6, and has a significantly lower net carb content at about 3g per 100g serving.
  2. Turnips: They can be used in much the same way as parsnips in recipes but have fewer carbs. A 100g serving of turnips contains approximately 6g of net carbs.
  3. Rutabaga: This is another root vegetable that can substitute for parsnips in recipes. It contains fewer carbs than parsnips, with around 9g of net carbs per 100g serving.
  4. Zucchini: Perfect for roasting or sautéing as a parsnip substitute, zucchini has a very low net carb content of roughly 3g per 100g serving.

Concluding Thoughts on Parsnips and Keto

While parsnips offer a variety of nutritional benefits, such as providing significant amounts of Vitamin C, Manganese, and Phosphorus, their high net carb content and high glycemic index make them less suitable for a ketogenic diet. Consuming parsnips could challenge your ability to stay within your daily carb limit and maintain ketosis, which is a central aspect of the ketogenic lifestyle.

That said, a world of keto-friendly alternatives exists for those who enjoy the flavor and texture of parsnips. Vegetables like cauliflower, turnips, rutabagas, and zucchini can be used as substitutes in a variety of recipes, allowing you to enjoy your favorite dishes while sticking to your keto diet.

Explore our Is It Keto Knowledge Hub.

Is Rutabaga Keto-Friendly
Are Roots and Tubers Keto-Friendly

Cast Iron Keto's Editorial and Research Standards

Certain rare or exotic food items may not have nutritional profiles in the FoodData Central database. If an exact match is not found in the FoodData Central database, then, the Cast Iron Keto team utilizes a three-prong approach to provide readers with the closest relevant nutritional data, where possible.

First, in the event that nutritional profiles for a rare or exotic food item is not available in the FoodData Central database, we investigate alternative names for that particular food item and use that data, when possible. Second, in cases where no alternate names exist, Cast Iron Keto will use nutritional data for a close relative or similar food item. Finally, if no close relatives or similar items exist, we refrain from publishing nutrient data tables.

When making dietary or health decisions based on FoodData Central's data, we suggest readers consult with a nutritionist or other health experts, particularly if the food in question has a significant role in your diet or if you are using the food item to treat any health disorder(s).

Furthermore, it is important to note that even if a close relative or similar item is used to approximate the nutritional data, different food items can have varying levels of nutrients due to factors such as soil quality, farming practices, and regional differences.


The information on this website is only intended to be general summary information for public use, designed for educational purposes only and is not engaged in rendering medical advice or professional services. This information does not replace written law or regulations, nor does it replace professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have questions about a medical condition or are seeking to evaluate the health merits of certain food items for the treatment of any medical condition, you should seek the advice of a doctor or other qualified health professionals.

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Frequently Asked Questions

No, due to their high net carbohydrate content and high glycemic index, parsnips are not considered keto-friendly.

Parsnips have a high net carb content, which can make it difficult to stay within your daily carb limit and maintain ketosis, a key aspect of a keto diet.

Yes, parsnips are a good source of several vitamins and minerals, including Vitamin C, Manganese, and Phosphorus.

Yes, vegetables such as cauliflower, turnips, rutabagas, and zucchini can be used as alternatives to parsnips in a keto diet.