Exploring the sense and nonsense of food and health

Parsley Facts: Who Knew?

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Parsley (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Parsley is thought of as a garnish on U.S. plates but it is a lot more than that.  It’s the world’s most popular herb.  In Middle Eastern cuisine, it is the main ingredient in a traditional salad called tabbouleh. It has the tendency to grow on rock cliffs, although I grew a lot of it in pots on the deck this year.  The most common varieties are curly, Italian, or flat leaf parsley.  The flat leaf is more aromatic and less bitter than the curly type.

Why is it super in nutrients?  Ten sprigs of parsley contain 556 mcg of the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin.  It also contains 505 mcg. of beta carotene, 164 mcg of vitamin K, and 842 IU’s of vitamin A.

What’s the healthy evidence?  A study in 2007 published in the International Journal of Oncology reviewed epidemiological data on cancer and dietary intake.  They found that apigenin, a flavonoid found in parsley to be a potent anti-inflammatory antioxidant and anticarcinogen.  There is an oil in parsley called myristicin that may inhibit tumors. The anti-inflammatory property may also help prevent heart disease or other chronic diseases associated with inflammation.

It has the ability to freshen breath which comes from the chlorophyll it contains,  the compound that makes it a bright green.  In one animal study it was found to reduce blood glucose levels in rats and reduced their weight. In another study with diabetic rats, parsley protected the livers of the animals.

Eating parsley raw makes its nutrient content highly available.  Add it to salads, cooked potatoes or almost any dish for nutrition and color..  One cup (a lot) has only 22 calories.   By the way, it’s a very attractive plant and easy to grow.

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