Out of all the common every-day popular Irish vegetables, carrots are probably the best source of beta-carotene (a form of vitamin A). Just to give you a comparison – to get the same amount of beta-carotene as a medium portion of carrots, you would need to eat 670 pears!
Vitamin A is one of the most important vitamins for maintaining healthy skin and teeth. It’s also a very important nutrient for good vision, especially night vision. Hence the old saying carrots can make you see around corners! Beta carotene provides protection against macular degeneration – the leading cause of blindness in later life.
Vitamin A is a fat soluble vitamin and comes in two forms – preformed vitamin A (retinoids) that we eat in animal foods, such as liver and dairy. And the second form is beta carotene and other carotinoids, which can be converted to active vitamin A in the body. Carotinoids are mainly found in carrots, red and yellow fruits as well as dark green leafy vegetables. Approximately one third of the carotene in food is converted to vitamin A. Light cooking and pureeing and mashing ruptures the cell membrane and makes the carotene more readily available.
Parsnips are a source of fibre and although they impart a sweet flavour, an average serving contains only 51 calories. Parsnips are high in folate or folic acid - this is an essential B vitamin for the nervous system and the proper functioning of the brain. Folate is also necessary for growth and the reproduction of body cells. It’s vital for the healthy development of babies in utero.
Parsnips are also a source of vitamin C and potassium. Potassium just like sodium is necessary for maintaining the body’s fluid balance, proper muscle and nerve function.
Parsnips are delicious in soups, or roasted with a drizzle of honey over them. And who can resist one of the ultimate comfort foods – mashed carrot and parsnip. Perfect with your Sunday lunch!
Turnips are a “starch” vegetable, and provide one third of the amount of calories as an equal amount of potatoes. One turnip goes a very long way!
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