What is Parsley and Why Should You Eat It?
Parsley is an herb that can be used in many different ways, but most people don’t realize the full extent of its benefits. In fact, if you’re anything like most people, you may use parsley only as a garnish on your food if you use it at all! Here are some important facts about parsley and how this versatile herb can benefit your health.
What is it?
Parsley may not be as popular or well-known as other herbs like thyme, basil, oregano, or rosemary, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less powerful. In fact, parsley has a host of health benefits some of which have been researched and confirmed by scientific studies. Read on to find out what is parsley and why you should consider adding it to your diet.
1. Rich in vitamins A, C, and K: This herb contains large amounts of vitamins A (in the form of beta carotene), C, and K. As these nutrients are essential for supporting many different bodily functions, including fighting off infections, maintaining healthy skin, building strong bones and helping wounds heal faster, they’re also beneficial for overall health and wellbeing.
2. Has anti-inflammatory properties: Like other plants, parsley contains natural anti-inflammatory compounds called polyphenols. These substances can help ease aches and pains by reducing inflammation throughout your body; they also help protect against conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
3. Protects against Alzheimer’s disease: Several animal studies have shown that consuming extra vitamin E may slow down brain degeneration and reduce symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. And although there haven’t been any human trials conducted yet, some experts believe that taking vitamin E supplements could prevent age-related memory loss in humans too.
4. Also known as Petroselinum crispum, parsley belongs to the same family as carrots, celery, and coriander. The plant grows best during spring and summer and produces small flowers along its stems at maturity. Although commonly used around their homes to add flavor to soups, stews, and salads, most people don’t realize that when eaten raw or cooked, parsley has amazing healing powers due to its high concentration of antioxidants.
Read on to find out what other health benefits you can gain from eating more parsley.
1. Prevents kidney stones: According to a study published in Kidney International Reports, compounds found in parsley may help prevent kidney stones from forming by increasing urinary excretion of calcium oxalate—the main component found in many types of kidney stones.
2. Parsley contains vitamins A, C, and K (all-important for maintaining healthy skin), folate (which helps reduce levels of homocysteine in your blood), and vitamin B6 (which supports nervous system function).
3. Has anti-inflammatory properties: Many plants contain polyphenols, which are believed to have natural anti-inflammatory properties.
4. Helps fight against certain cancers: Several studies have shown that regularly consuming cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower could reduce your risk of developing cancer by limiting the damage caused by carcinogens; these veggies also contain glucosinolates, which convert into helpful enzymes once digested. Because parsley falls into both categories, it could potentially provide similar protection against cancerous cells too.
5. Protects against Alzheimer’s disease: One study published in BioMed Central showed that taking 400 micrograms of folic acid every day helped improve cognitive functioning among elderly patients with mild cognitive impairment also known as early-stage Alzheimer’s disease.
And although there haven’t been any human trials conducted yet, some experts believe that taking folic acid supplements could also slow down brain degeneration and improve memory loss symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
6. Can help relieve symptoms associated with asthma: In one study published in Phytotherapy Research, participants who took an extract containing 10% rosmarinic acid experienced reduced asthma symptoms and improved lung function after three months.
7. Improves heart health: The flavonoids present in parsley may help lower cholesterol levels and protect against cardiovascular diseases such as atherosclerosis, myocardial infarction, and stroke.
8. Increases body’s ability to absorb iron: According to a study published in Experimental and Toxicologic Pathology, ingesting foods rich in chlorophyll (like parsley) could help increase your body’s ability to absorb iron. The mineral is vital for red blood cell production and helps transport oxygen throughout your body.
9. Contains nutrients that support a healthy pregnancy: According to research published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, pregnant women who ate foods rich in folic acid (like parsley) were less likely to give birth prematurely. Researchers also found that women who had higher levels of folic acid in their blood were less likely to experience complications with their pregnancies.
10. May help reduces symptoms associated with rheumatoid arthritis: Rheumatoid arthritis is a type of inflammatory disease that causes painful inflammation in your joints and surrounding tissues. According to a study published in Nutrition Research, eating foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids (like parsley) could help reduce symptoms associated with rheumatoid arthritis by lowering levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines—which are released by your immune system to control inflammation—in your body.
11. If you’re wondering what is parsley and is parsley, perhaps it’s time to learn a little bit about one of your favorite herbs. This herb belongs to the family Apiaceae and is part of a plant genus that includes over 50 species.
There are several good reasons to eat parsley. This herb contains a powerful antioxidant called apigenin, which may help protect against cell damage. Other antioxidants in parsley may also help prevent premature aging and heart disease, according to a study published in Phytotherapy Research. Parsley may even boost athletic performance.
So what’s stopping you from adding more of it to your diet? For starters, try making one of these recipes:
Modified Carrot-Parsley Salad: Boil some carrots until they’re soft enough to mash easily with a fork. Mash them together with chopped parsley (or cilantro) and mayonnaise or sour cream.
Season with salt and pepper as desired, then serve cold on top of salad greens or crackers for dipping. Chopped red bell pepper makes an especially nice addition here! Boil some carrots until they’re soft enough to mash easily with a fork. Mash them together with chopped parsley (or cilantro) and mayonnaise or sour cream. Season with salt and pepper as desired, then serve cold on top of salad greens or crackers for dipping.
Chopped red bell pepper makes an especially nice addition here! Parsley Pesto: This simple sauce is great over pasta or fish, but it’s also delicious stirred into scrambled eggs in place of butter! Just mix together 1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves, 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, 2 tablespoons pine nuts or walnuts, 2 cloves garlic, and 3 tablespoons olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste before serving.
This simple sauce is great over pasta or fish, but it’s also delicious stirred into scrambled eggs in place of butter! Just mix together 1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves, 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, 2 tablespoons pine nuts or walnuts, 2 cloves garlic, and 3 tablespoons olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste before serving. Cucumber-Parsley Soup: Chop up a few cucumbers and steam them until tender.
While that’s happening, chop up some fresh parsley and combine it with water, lemon juice, honey, salt, and pepper in a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth; add more water if needed to thin out the soup slightly. Serve hot garnished with chopped cucumbers or croutons as desired.
Chop up a few cucumbers and steam them until tender. While that’s happening, chop up some fresh parsley and combine it with water, lemon juice, honey, salt, and pepper in a blender or food processor.
Blend until smooth; add more water if needed to thin out the soup slightly. Serve hot garnished with chopped cucumbers or croutons as desired.
Parsley Butter Sauce: Combine 1 stick of softened butter, 1 tablespoon of dried parsley flakes, and salt and pepper to taste in a small bowl. Stir well to combine; use immediately or store in the refrigerator for later use. Combine 1 stick softened butter, 1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes, and salt and pepper to taste in a small bowl. Stir well to combine; use immediately or store in the refrigerator for later use.
How to cook with it
The first step in cooking with parsley is, of course, picking it. Choose fresh parsley over dried whenever possible—dried parsley doesn’t hold a candle to its fresh counterpart in terms of flavor.
Make sure to pick off any discolored leaves or stems before use, as these parts are higher in natural oils that can make your dish less palatable. To keep parsley fresh for up to one week, place it in a glass of water like you would flowers.
Store it in a cool area out of direct sunlight. When you’re ready to cook with parsley, wash thoroughly under cold water and pat dry with paper towels; if you have time, wrap it loosely in paper towels and store it in the refrigerator until ready to use. Once washed, chop into small pieces (1/4-inch or smaller) and add directly to dishes while they’re cooking.
It will wilt quickly when exposed to heat, so add at the last minute. Or better yet, sprinkle on top of cooked dishes just before serving for maximum impact.
Here are some ideas • Add chopped parsley to the marinara sauce during cooking.
• Sprinkle chopped parsley over grilled chicken breasts just before serving.
• Add chopped parsley to mashed potatoes after mashing but before adding milk and butter.
• Chop finely and mix with mayonnaise for an instant sandwich spread.
• Chop finely and mix with yogurt for an instant dip or salad dressing.
• Add a handful of finely chopped parsley to beef stew, chicken soup, or vegetable soup five minutes before removing it from heat.
• Mix finely chopped parsley with olive oil and lemon juice for a quick vinaigrette.
• Add finely chopped parsley to tuna fish or egg salad sandwiches.
• Toss with hot pasta along with grated Parmesan cheese and a little olive oil just before serving.
How much should I eat? If you’re new to eating more leafy greens, start slowly by adding small amounts of parsley to existing recipes. Gradually increase your intake over time.
A good rule of thumb is to aim for about 1/2 cup per day, which translates to about 5 grams of fiber per day. Since parsley is low in calories and high in fiber, there’s no need to count calories or fat grams when including it in your diet.
What health benefits does parsley offer?
Parsley contains vitamins A and C as well as minerals such as iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, manganese, phosphorus, and zinc. It also offers a host of phytonutrients, including luteolin, apigenin, and quercetin. These compounds help protect against free radical damage, reduce inflammation, and support detoxification processes in our bodies.
In addition to being rich in antioxidants, parsley also helps promote regular bowel movements thanks to its diuretic properties. It’s a mild diuretic, meaning it increases urine production without causing dehydration. Parsley is also a natural breath freshener and can be used to treat bad breath caused by conditions such as gum disease, tooth decay, or oral yeast infections.
Read: What is Parsley Good for
While parsley has been shown to improve symptoms of gingivitis in clinical studies, it shouldn’t be used as a substitute for professional dental care.
Where to get it
If you’re in your local grocery store, parsley should be right there in your produce section. In terms of price, it’s pretty affordable at least compared to some of its health benefits. (i.e., it costs a lot less than your face.) To get more parsley in your diet, try adding it to salsa or serving with olive oil drizzled on top as a garnish for roasted veggies or potatoes.
Here are two quick and easy recipes to get you started
Grilled Chicken with Olive Oil and Parsley
This dish only takes 10 minutes to prepare! Simply grill chicken breasts seasoned with salt, pepper, lemon juice, oregano, and garlic powder. Top off each breast with one tablespoon of olive oil mixed with fresh chopped parsley. For added flavor: Sprinkle rosemary overtops before grilling.
This dish goes great served alongside grilled vegetables such as squash or bell peppers. Chicken Broccoli Stir-Fry Chicken stir-fry is a quick and easy meal that comes together in just 15 minutes. To make it even easier, use frozen broccoli florets (no need to thaw).
Serve with brown rice for a complete meal that’s ready in less than 30 minutes. Combine 1 tablespoon olive oil, 2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 3/4 teaspoon pepper in a small bowl. Toss chicken breasts with mixture; set aside while you prepare the remaining ingredients.
Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to skillet over medium heat; cook chicken for 4 minutes on each side or until no longer pink inside. Remove from skillet; cover and keep warm. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to the same skillet; add garlic and ginger. Cook 30 seconds or until fragrant.
Stir in broccoli, soy sauce, orange juice concentrate, and cornstarch; cook 2 minutes more or until thickened. Place chicken back into the pan along with any juices that have accumulated during resting time. Cook another minute or two to warm through. Sprinkle with sesame seeds before serving if desired. Enjoy.