- Food and Cooking
Parsley: Health Benefits
Parsley: Health Benefits
Parsley health benefits, facts, and stories from a more than casual lover of this wonderful herb.
It is difficult to imagine that someone reading this article would not know at least some basic information about parsley.
It is green, it is curly, and you can often find it laying on the edge of your plate in a restaurant. Of course, there is more, and I want to tell you about it.
Photo Credit: Bill Burris CC BY-SA 2.0
My Parsley Memories
Before I begin, I want to tell you about when I started to love parsley. I grew up on a small farm in California. We raised our own meat and collected our own eggs. There was a grapefruit tree in the yard, right next to the orange tree, which was next to the kumquat tree. Across the yard were the pecan trees. On the other side of the house were the walnut trees. There were lilacs, camellias, and roses everywhere. And chickens. They ran loose along with the ducks. We always had to watch our step! We had a small garden that mainly grew tomatoes, squash, melons, and corn.
Across the street, as far as the eye could see, were fields of roma tomatoes. Yes, we helped ourselves. Next door a very nice man named Mr. Morinaka lived and grew parsley for profit. As far as I remember that was his only crop. He told my grandmother she could send us over anytime she wanted parsley.
Walking through a field of parsley is like breathing in the greenest goodness you can imagine. My sister and I would lazily pick parsley and take it home to be used. Since we always had fresh parsley, we used it a lot. My grandmother would get out the food dryer and dry it up and store it in jars, too.
Photo Credit: Rick & Brenda Beerhorst CC BY 2.0
Parsley Health Benefits
Parsley is not only a yummy and useful herb, it is a highly nutritious food. Parsley has two main components that provide nutritional and wellness support to the body: volatile oil and flavonoids. Most people have probably heard of flavonoids, the news is full of their benefits and supplement companies have hopped on the bandwagon so that ads are full of information about flavonoids as well. Basically, the flavonoids in parsley are antioxidants that prevent oxidative damage to cells. That is a good thing. This type of cell damage can lead to cancer, among other things, so any substance that counteracts it is beneficial. The volatile oils have been found to actually stop tumor growth in animal studies.
Parsley is also full of vitamins such as vitamin C, vitamin A (as beta-carotene), vitamin K and folic acid. Some of the benefits of vitamin C include reducing the risk of disease in human beings. Diseases such as colon cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and asthma are less likely in people that have a diet high in vitamin C. Vitamin C is also an anti-inflammatory so it helps with rheumatoid and osteoarthritis. It also supports immune system function.
Beta-carotene has similar benefits in the body, though it is a fat soluble vitamin while vitamin C is water soluble. Beta-carotene also converts to vitamin A in the body, which is vital for health.
Parsley is also a great source of folic acid. Folic acid is very important for heart health, and it is vital that pregnant women have enough folic acid in their diet to avoid certain birth defects.
Parsley can be purchased as caffeine free tea or parsley capsules also.
This is an overview of the health benefits of parsley. If you want a more detailed explanation visit WH Foods, the source for this section of the article.
Photo Credit: Shandchem CC BY-SA 2.0
There are two main varieties of parsley. The familiar curly leaf is the type most often ignored on the side of the plate at restaurants. The flat leaf is the one people buy when they mean to get cilantro to make salsa. Ever had salsa with parsley instead of cilantro? Not right.
There is also a turnip rooted parsley called Hamburg parsley, but I have never tried it and I don't know anything about it.
Parsley can easily be grown in an indoor or deck herb garden. I prefer the flat leafed parsley for cooking, salads, and everything else. It is also easier to grow. Curly parsley is more interesting looking though, so if you want a garnish, that would be the way to go. It also has a milder flavor.
Parsley needs good soil, plenty of sunlight, but cannot get too hot. I am not a gardening expert, but I've included a great book below that you can use to grow all kinds of herbs. If you are going to grow parsley, you might as well try a few other herbs!
Photo Credit: Alexandria Perone CC BY-ND 2.0
Using Fresh Parsley
Parsley Health Benefits
Using fresh parsley when cooking can be the magic ingredient that you need to turn a good dish into a great one. Chicken soup is a great example. If you add fresh parsley in it adds an amazing flavor that you wouldn't get otherwise.
Parsley works well in any kind of soup or stew. It is also excellent in casseroles and in salads. Try to add it when the dish is nearly done whenever possible, especially when used in soups or sauces. You don't want to boil it to death or lost the nutrients from exposure to extended heat.
I've told you some of the health benefits of parsley and you may have wondered how to best take advantage of it. You need to buy parsley so you have it on hand when you cook. Experiment with it to see what works in the dishes that you normally cook.
Besides cooking with it, you can enjoy it fresh. Drizzle some olive oil on fresh tomatoes and sprinkle it with fresh chopped parsley. Fresh, chopped parsley is often tossed in tabouli or couscous dishes and it works well tossed into various kinds of rice dishes before serving. Sprinkling parsley on a soft cheese when spread on crackers or thin bread is also great.
Dried parsley can be thrown in just about any dish. It adds color and fresh flavor, even though it is dried. Every cupboard should have a jar!
Photo Credit: Miran Rijavec CC BY-SA 2.0
Buy Some Parsley
You may have a dusty container of dried parsley in your spice cupboard. I suggest replacing it with one of the organic suggestions below. As with any other food, it is always better to purchase organic when you can.
Kosher and organic. Use dried parsley in casseroles, vegetable dishes, eggs, and potato dishes. Excellent to add flavor and color.
The Complete Book of Herbs: A Practical Guide to Growing and Using Herbs
With more than 340,000 copies sold in hardcover, this essential, full-color resource is now available in paperback. Revealing the enormous potential of herbs, this sourcebook includes information on planting, growing, and harvesting herbs, as well as the main uses of herbs. It also offers an exhaustive identification guide, recipes, ideas for gifts, and much more.
5 stars on Amazon.com. Buy this book and learn how to grow parsley along with other herbs.
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