Many people know this biennial only as a garnish. The Mediterranean native was introduced to Britain in 1548. It has a long history that encompasses many different cultures. It is one of the most popular herbs on the planet – and for good reason. Originally, it was used medicinally; and according to WebMD®, it is still an ingredient in many medicines today. It is not surprising then, to learn that consuming the plant may also be good for you.
This humble green is rich in many vitamins and nutrients including vitamins A, C, E, K, folic acid, calcium, potassium, iron, and magnesium – just to name a few. Added to that is the fact that it contains powerful antioxidants. The vitamin K content of parsley is huge. Two tablespoons contain a whopping 153% of the recommended daily amount. One-quarter cup of parsley packs almost as much vitamin K as a whole cup of Swiss chard, and nearly double the amount found in a whole cup of spinach. Vitamin K is necessary for blood clotting and maintaining good bone health. It has been identified as essential in the prevention of osteoporosis.
If all of this is not enough to convince you, there is more. Parsley may help prevent breast cancer. Results published in 2011 on a study performed at the University of Missouri suggest that apigenin, an ingredient found in parsley (and a few other plant sources), may protect against breast cancer by blocking the development of certain cancer cells.
Parsley has a long list of uses for everything from asthma, to promotion of hair growth. One very common use is for fresh breath. Because of parsley’s high chlorophyll content, this can be especially effective after a meal containing a lot of onions or garlic. Parsley tea is said to promote digestion and help reduce flatulence. Another common use for the tea is to relax stiff muscles. Native Americans traditionally used the leaves topically for insect bites.
Although there are many medicinal uses for parsley, it is wise to keep in mind that many folk remedies are not backed with proven clinical evidence. Consumption of parsley in typical food amounts is generally seen as safe. Use of this, or any herb in medicinal amounts should only be done under the supervision of trained individuals.
Parsley is readily available year round. For gardening enthusiasts, it is easy to grow and does not take up a lot of room in the garden. However you get your parsley, eat up! It’s good for you.
- Do not confuse parsley with fool’s parsley or parsley piert.
- Parsley contains phytochemicals that may exacerbate kidney problems.
- Warfarin (Coumadin) and diuretic drugs may interact with parsley.
- It is best to use caution in the consumption of parsley while pregnant, as parsley has been used to induce abortion.
If you missed Part 1, check it out for some delicious recipes containing parsley.