Parsley: An Unappreciated Herb


   Parsley: An Unappreciated Herb

Generally in every food the chef add this herb to provide the garnishing and beauty to his dish, but still Parsley remains an unappreciated herb.

Parsley is a pretty little Mediterranean herb that lends a sprinkling of colour to your plate. But let’s not think of it as just a garnish—after all, parsley has been around for more than 2000 years, and boasts some time-tested benefits that you should know about.

Parsley is the world's most popular herb. It derives its name from the Greek word meaning "rock celery" (parsley is a relative to celery). It is a biennial plant that will return to the garden year after year once it is established. The delicious and vibrant taste and wonderful healing properties of parsley are often ignored in its popular role as a table garnish.


Highly nutritious, parsley can be found year round in your local supermarket.



Parsley is rich in many vital vitamins, including Vitamin C, B 12, K and A. This means parsley keeps your immune system strong, tones your bones and heals the nervous system, too. It helps flush out excess fluid from the body, thus supporting kidney function. However, the herb contains oxalates, which can cause problems for those with existing kidney and gall bladder problems. It is a good source of iron and folate. Parsley's volatile oil components include myristicin, limonene, eugenol, and alpha-thujene. Its flavonoids include apiin, apigenin, crisoeriol, and luteolin.

Regular use of parsley can help control your blood pressure. The folic acid in this herb is like a tonic for your heart. Parsley essential oil, when massaged into the scalp, may reduce hair loss. Use parsley daily, and you’ll feel relief from joint pain. That’s because the herb has anti-inflammatory properties. Parsley tea relaxes stiff muscles and encourages digestion. Studies indicate that parsley—especially its essential oil—may have a role in inhibiting cancerous tumors. In fact, scientists have billed it a ‘chemoprotective’ food.

Parsley is used for urinary tract infections (UTIs), kidney stones (nephrolithiasis), gastrointestinal (GI) disorders, constipation, jaundice, intestinal gas (flatulence), indigestion, colic, diabetes, cough, asthma, fluid retention (edema), osteoarthritis, “tired blood” (anemia), high blood pressure, prostate conditions, and spleen conditions. It is also used to start menstrual flow, to cause an abortion, as an aphrodisiac, and as a breath freshener.

   Parsley: An Unappreciated Herb Some people apply parsley directly to the skin for cracked or chapped skin, bruises, tumors, insect bites, lice, parasites, and to stimulate hair growth. In foods and beverages, parsley is widely used as a garnish, condiment, food, and flavouring. In manufacturing, parsley seed oil is used as a fragrance in soaps, cosmetics, and perfumes. Parsley might help stimulate the appetite, improve digestion, increase urine production, reduce spasms, and increase menstrual flow.

Parsley in food amounts is fine, but parsley in the larger medicinal amounts is likely unsafe when taken by mouth during pregnancy. Parsley has been used to cause an abortion and to start menstrual flow. In addition, developing evidence suggests that taking An-Tai-Yin, an herbal combination product containing parsley and dong quai, during the first three months of pregnancy increases the risk of serious birth defects. If you are pregnant, stick with using only the amount of parsley typically found in food.

A sprig of parsley can provide much more than a decoration on your plate. Parsley contains two types of unusual components that provide unique health benefits. The first type is volatile oil components—including myristicin, limonene, eugenol, and alpha-thujene. The second type is flavonoids—including apiin, apigenin, crisoeriol, and luteolin.

Parsley's volatile oils—particularly myristicin—have been shown to inhibit tumor formation in animal studies, and particularly, tumor formation in the lungs. Myristicin has also been shown to activate the enzyme glutathione-S-transferase, which helps attach the molecule glutathione to oxidized molecules that would otherwise do damage in the body. The activity of parsley's volatile oils qualifies it as a "chemoprotective" food, and in particular, a food that can help neutralize particular types of carcinogens (like the benzopyrenes that are part of cigarette smoke and charcoal grill smoke).

The flavonoids in parsley—especially luteolin—have been shown to function as antioxidants that combine with highly reactive oxygen-containing molecules (called oxygen radicals) and help prevent oxygen-based damage to cells. In addition, extracts from parsley have been used in animal studies to help increase the antioxidant capacity of the blood.

In addition to its volatile oils and flavonoids, parsley is an excellent source of two vital nutrients that are also important for the prevention of many diseases: vitamin C and vitamin A (notably through its concentration of the pro-vitamin A carotenoid, beta-carotene).

Vitamin C has many different functions. It is the body's primary water-soluble antioxidant, rendering harmless otherwise dangerous free radicals in all water-soluble areas of the body. High levels of free radicals contribute to the development and progression of a wide variety of diseases, including atherosclerosis, colon cancer, diabetes, and asthma. This may explain why people who consume healthy amounts of vitamin C-containing foods have reduced risks for all these conditions. Vitamin C is also a powerful anti-inflammatory agent, which explains its usefulness in conditions such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. And since vitamin C is needed for the healthy function of the immune system, it can also be helpful for preventing recurrent ear infections or colds.

Beta-carotene, another important antioxidant, works in the fat-soluble areas of the body. Diets with beta-carotene-rich foods are also associated with a reduced risk for the development and progression of conditions like atherosclerosis, diabetes, and colon cancer. Like vitamin C, beta-carotene may also be helpful in reducing the severity of asthma, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis. And beta-carotene is converted by the body to vitamin A, a nutrient so important to a strong immune system that its nickname is the "anti-infective vitamin."

   Parsley: An Unappreciated Herb Parsley is a good source of folic acid, one of the most important B vitamins. While it plays numerous roles in the body, one of its most critical roles in relation to cardiovascular health is its necessary participation in the process through which the body converts homocysteine into benign molecules. Homocysteine is a potentially dangerous molecule that, at high levels, can directly damage blood vessels, and high levels of homocysteine are associated with a significantly increased risk of heart attack and stroke in people with atherosclerosis or diabetic heart disease. Enjoying foods rich in folic acid, like parsley, is an especially good idea for individuals who either have, or wish to prevent, these diseases.


Folic acid is also a critical nutrient for proper cell division and is therefore vitally important for cancer-prevention in two areas of the body that contain rapidly dividing cells—the colon, and in women, the cervix.

While one study suggests that high doses of supplemental vitamin C makes osteoarthritis, a type of degenerative arthritis that occurs with aging, worse in laboratory animals, another indicates that vitamin C-rich foods, such as parsley, provide humans with protection against inflammatory polyarthritis, a form of rheumatoid arthritis involving two or more joints.

The findings, presented in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases were drawn from a study of more than 20,000 subjects who kept diet diaries and were arthritis-free when the study began, and focused on subjects who developed inflammatory polyarthritis and similar subjects who remained arthritis-free during the follow-up period. Subjects who consumed the lowest amounts of vitamin C-rich foods were more than three times more likely to develop arthritis than those who consumed the highest amounts.

So, next time parsley appears on your plate as a garnish, recognize its true worth and partake of its abilities to improve your health. As an added bonus, you'll also enjoy parsley's legendary ability to cleanse your palate and your breath at the end of your meal.


While parsley is a wonderfully nutritious and healing food, it is often under-appreciated. Most people do not realize that this vegetable has more uses than just being a decorative garnish that accompanies restaurant meals. They do not know that parsley is actually a storehouse of nutrients and that it features a delicious green and vibrant taste.

The two most popular types of parsley are curly parsley and Italian flat leaf parsley. The Italian variety has a more fragrant and less bitter taste than the curly variety. There is also another type of parsley known as turnip-rooted (or Hamburg) that is cultivated for its roots, which resemble salsify and burdock. Parsley belongs to the Umbelliferae family of plants, and its Latin name is Petroselinum crispum.

Additional resources: http://www.whfoods.com/
 

Dated 01 July 2013

 

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