Parsley is an easy-to-use, incredibly flavorful, nutrition powerhouse, yet, unfortunately, it often gets regarded as a "throw-away" garnish on dinner plates. Derived from the Greek word meaning "rock celery" (because it's related to celery), parsley has been cultivated for 2,000 years, and was used medicinally long before that.
Aside from adding a burst of fresh flavor to soups, vegetables, meats and a host of other dishes, parsley is full of valuable nutrients that have proven health benefits.
Parsley's Many Health-Giving Properties
Parsley contains three times as much vitamin C as oranges, and twice as much iron as spinach. It's an excellent source of vitamin K, vitamin A and folate, as well. But parsley's nutrition advantages do not end there.
For a quick look at parley's major nutrients (based on two tablespoons, which has only 2.7 calories!), check out the chart below, then keep reading to find out about more of parsley's healthy benefits.
* Based on nutrient density and daily value.
Fights cancer. Parsley contains volatile oils that have been found to inhibit tumor formation in animal studies, particularly those in the lungs. The oils are not only cancer-fighting, they're also known to neutralize carcinogens including those found in cigarette smoke and charcoal grill smoke. Parsley also contains folic acid, which has been found to help prevent colon and cervical cancers.
Antioxidant-rich. Parsley contains beneficial antioxidant compounds called flavonoids. These compounds combine with oxygen-containing molecules and help prevent oxygen-based damage to cells. Parsley extracts have also been found to increase the antioxidant capacity of the blood in animal studies.
Good for the heart. The folic acid in parsley is a critical nutrient in cardiovascular health. Specifically, folic acid helps convert potentially dangerous homocysteine into harmless molecules, a process that protects blood vessels and reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke.
Protects against rheumatoid arthritis. A study published in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases found that people who ate the least amount of vitamin-C-rich foods (like parsley) had a three times greater chance of developing rheumatoid arthritis than those who ate the most.
How to Use Parsley
As you can see from the chart above, it only takes two tablespoons of parsley to yield a host of health benefits (but you can use as much as you like!). Fresh parsley is always more flavorful than the dried variety, so if you can get it, always use fresh. Generally, the flat version tends to have a more intense flavor than the curly-leaf variety, but pick the type that appeals to you the most.
Simply wash the parsley, chop it up and sprinkle it into your favorite dishes, from soups and salads to fish and meat dishes. Or, check out the tasty recipe below for a parsley sauce that works great on lamb, fish and chicken.
Garlic, Lemon & Parsley Dressing