Parsley is a widely cultivated flowering herb that belongs to the family Apiaceae. It is prevalent in American, European, and Middle Eastern cuisine.
There are two types of fresh parsley frequently found in markets and other food shops. They are commonly known by their descriptive names: curly leaf parsley and flat leaf parsley. Curly leaf parsley, also called French parsley, is often used as a garnish. Flat leaf parsley, also called Italian parsley, has a stronger flavor and is used more frequently as an ingredient in salads and cooked dishes.
You can also find dried parsley in stores. Drying the herb reduces some of its health benefits but not all, and it actually may improve its cancer-fighting potential.
Parsley has many vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that can provide important health benefits. It is a particularly rich source of vitamin K. A single tablespoon of fresh chopped parsley provides more than 70% of the recommended daily intake.
Parsley also contains a good amount of vitamin A and antioxidants known as flavonoids.
The other health benefits that parsley can provide include:
Parsley contains a large amount of the flavone apigenin. While cooking and/or drying may reduce some of parsley’s other health benefits, it increases the apigenin available in parsley. In fact, dried parsley is the best natural source of apigenin.
Flavones are the pigments in certain flowering plants and powerful antioxidants. Apigenin has demonstrated particular potential as an anticancer agent, but more research is needed.
Diuresis is the process in which your kidneys make extra pee in order to get rid of a substance in your body. Parsley works as a powerful natural diuretic and can help reduce bloating and blood pressure.
Parsley is loaded with vitamin K, which has been linked to bone health. The vitamin supports bone growth and bone mineral density.
One study on parsley found that it helped protect against osteoporosis in rats.
Parsley contains vitamin A, which helps protect the surface of the eye, as well as lutein and zeaxanthin, two antioxidants that help prevent age-related macular degeneration.
Parsley's vitamin K is important because it helps blood to clot in addition to contributing to bone health.
It’s also an excellent source of:
Nutrients per Serving
A 1 tablespoon serving of chopped, fresh parsley contains:
- Calories: 1
- Protein: 0 grams
- Fat: 0 grams
- Carbohydrates: 0 grams
- Fiber: 0 grams
- Sugar: 0 gram
- Vitamin A: 6% RDI
- Vitamin C: 8% RDI
Parsley is a low-calorie ingredient that can be consumed without risk by most people. Large amounts of parsley may be dangerous to pregnant women, and should be avoided.
How to Use Parsley
It is easy to add parsley to your diet. It can be added to soups or salads or sprinkled over dishes as a finishing touch. Parsley also makes up one of the key ingredients in several herbal seasonings, sauces, and dishes such as:
- A bouquet garni, a bundle of herbs commonly added to French soups, stocks, and sauces
- Salsa verde, an Italian condiment
- Cheiro-verde, a Brazillian herbal seasoning
- Tabbouleh, a Middle Eastern salad