5 Health Benefits of Parsley

Do you think of parsley as nothing more than a frilly green garnish served on the side of your entrée? If so, you have a lot to learn. Parsley is a superfood that is a good source of minerals, antioxidants and anti-inflammatories. By switching it from a decoration to a staple in your diet, you can help yourself live a longer, healthier life.

What Is Parsley?

Parsley may well be the first herb you ever encountered, and there’s good reason for that. It is considered the world’s most popular herb. That’s true, but it’s not because so much is sold to add a little color to restaurant dishes. The herb has long been used in traditional medicine and is one of the main ingredients in many regional dishes throughout the Mediterranean. The plant is a member of the same family as carrots, and other herbs like dill and cumin.

The seeds of the parsley plant are also a valued herb, though they are used more frequently in Asian countries.

Parsley has long been used as a home remedy for a wide variety of maladies, including indigestion, constipation, water retention and gallstones. The seeds are valued for their ability to reduce menstrual pain and regulate menstrual cycles.

There are generally two different types of parsley available at your local market:

  • Curly-leaf Parsley, which is the more decorative type that is usually used as garnish
  • Flat-leaf Parsley, which has a stronger flavor and is more frequently used in recipes

Both types contain the same compounds, minerals and vitamins and offer the same remarkable health benefits.

1.      Parsley is A Rich Source of Unique, Health-Promoting Nutrients

When we speak of the nutrients in foods, we generally point to a laundry list of vitamins, minerals and other familiar, high-value compounds. Parsley has all those key nutrients, but also stands alone in its flavonoids and volatile oil components.

The better known nutrients that put parsley squarely into the category of superfood include Vitamin C and beta-carotene, both of which are important antioxidants known for their role in preventing serious medical conditions. It also contains folic acid, Vitamin K, calcium, potassium, manganese and iron. Additionally, parsley contains volatile oil components that have been shown to act as a powerful natural detox, diuretic, anti-inflammatory and to stop tumors from forming. It also contains flavonoids that counter the effects of free radical damage to cells. One half cup of fresh parsley contains:

Calories – 8

Fiber – 1 gram

Vitamin K – 496 mg (554% of RDV)

Vitamin C – 40 mg (54% of RDV)

Vitamin A – 128 mg (15% of RDV)

Folate – 48 mg (12% of RDV)

Iron – 92 mg (10% of RDV)

Calcium – 40 mg (4% of RDV)

Magnesium – 16 mg (4% of RDV)

Potassium – 168 mg (4% of RDV)

Adding parsley to your food is an easy way to increase your intake of vitamins K and C and important minerals and nutrients that support heart health, fight the negative effects of inflammation, and may even prevent the formation of cancerous tumors.

2.      Parsley Aids Digestion

The enzymes found in parsley’s essential oils help to breakdown the foods that we eat and stimulate our appetite. Eating parsley minimizes gas and constipation and eases indigestion and nausea. It also helps to increase kidney activity, increasing the volume of urine produced and making parsley an excellent remedy for water retention. This reduces bloating.

Bottom Line: Parsley and parsley seeds have long been used to cure numerous gastrointestinal symptoms. Parsley tea has long been used to ease the discomfort of an upset stomach.

3.      Parsley Helps to Clear and Smooth Your Complexion

The essential oils in parsley are antifungal and antiseptic. They can address many of the causes of blemishes and rashes. In fact, many facial cleansers and moisturizers include these oils in their list of ingredients. Additionally, the high levels of Vitamin C and Vitamin K found in parsley are extremely beneficial for the appearance of your skin. Vitamin C boosts the production of collagen and works with its high copper and zinc content to clear blemishes. Vitamin K can minimize redness and enhance skin’s elasticity. Dry skin can benefit from parsley’s beta-carotene, which protects skin cells from damage. People also make skin soothing face masks from parsley which can be applied directly to the skin to help minimize dark spots and pimples.

Bottom Line: Parsley oils anti-fungal and antiseptic properties combine with its valuable minerals and antioxidants to help beautify the appearance of skin and eliminate inflammation and the signs of aging.

4.      Parsley Contributes to Heart Health

Parsley is rich in a number of antioxidants that have been proven to provide benefits to cardiovascular health. It contains flavonoids including quercetin, as well as vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta carotene that repair damage caused by oxidative stress. It also contains a compound called falcarinol that has been found to have a powerful impact in preventing the formation of clots that can lead to stroke and heart attack. Parsley’s essential oils also contain a compound called myristicin which protects against the damage caused by inflammation, and the high levels of folate in the herb help to strengthen the cells of the blood vessels that help to circulate blood to the heart.

Bottom Line: Adding parsley to your diet is a smart step for helping to repair the harmful effects of stress and protect against damage in the future.

5.      Parsley Helps Build and Protect Bone Strength

Parsley contains high levels of magnesium, calcium, boron and fluoride. These essential nutrients help the body to build and retain bone strength. Parsley also contains extremely high levels of Vitamin K, which has been proven to protect against the bone loss experienced in osteoporosis. Additionally, the antioxidants and anti-inflammatories in parsley help to minimize the pain caused by inflammation in the joints, and helps the body to excrete uric acid which makes arthritis pain more pronounced.

Bottom Line: Bone health is supported by the nutrients found in parsley and its essential oils.

6.      Parsley May Be a Valuable Weapon in the Battle Against Cancer

Cancer is one of the most insidious and challenging diseases we face as humans. The many different forms that the disease takes each respond differently to different protocols and treatments, but all cancer patients benefit from adding more antioxidants such as those found in chlorophyll, which is found in large quantities in parsley, to our diet. The nutrients in parsley have been shown to have some unique benefits for the treatment of certain types of cancers. A flavonoid called apigenin has been shown to lower the risk of several cancers, including leukemia, cervical cancer, ovarian cancer and pancreatic cancer. It has also been shown to disrupt the ability of cancer cells to multiply and expand into larger tumors. Another flavonoid, luteolin, has been shown to minimize some of the harmful side effects caused by chemotherapeutic medications used to treat cancer, as well as to stop the growth and spread of prostate, thyroid and breast cancer cells. Breast cancer cells have also been shown to be vulnerable to another flavonoid found in parsley called falcarinol.

Bottom Line:  We are just beginning to learn the many ways that parsley may help us to kill cancer cells and stop them from spreading, as well as to minimize the harmful side effects caused by cancer treatment protocols.

Tips for Buying and Using Parsley

You can purchase parsley as a dried herb to keep in your pantry, but to get the greatest impact from its nutrients it is best to buy it fresh from the produce section of your local market. Look for leaves that are deep green and look fresh, and keep the bunches that you purchase in the refrigerator. You can refresh a bunch of parsley with a splash of water if it starts to wilt.

Parsley can be chopped and added to most savory dishes and salads. It adds a splash of color and a fresh flavor. Parsley is a delicious alternative to basil for pesto, and can also be stirred into a variety of sauces and soups.