Health Benefits of Parsley
Health benefits of parsley include control over cancer, diabetes, effective on rheumatoid arthritis, and help against osteoporosis. It acts as a pain reliever with anti-inflammatory properties. Parsley also provides relief from gastrointestinal issues such as indigestion, stomach cramps, bloating, nausea and helps in strengthening the immune system.
Parsley can be found all round the year in the market. It is a cheap leaf that anyone can lay hands on. It is a highly nutritious plant and has ample vitamins and antioxidants which can make us very healthy.
What is Parsley?
Parsley is an herb which had originated in the Mediterranean region of south Italy, Algeria and Tunisia. This herb is known scientifically as Petroselinum hortenseand Petroselinum crispum and it belongs to the family of Apiaceae.
Parsley has been cultivated by man for more than 2000 years. Parsley was on high regards in the Greek culture as it was used in various ceremonies. The Romans also used Parsley in many ways. Pliny the Eldera 1st century AD historian wrote that Parsley was consumed by people from all walks of life. At first, it was used only as a medicinal plant but later on, it was consumed as food. There are many myths and fables associated with the origin and growth of this plant in many of the Mediterranean and European cultures. The Greeks believed that parsley had sprung up from the blood of fallen Greek hero Archemorus. Thus, Greeks started associating parsley with death and destruction, but in the middle ages, parsley was included in folklore medicines and it slowly gained popularity. Perhaps, it is how the image of parsley as a health giver had developed.
Parsley, a predominantly tropical plant needs moisture and ample sun light to grow. It is used as herb, a green leafy vegetable and as a spice as well. Parsley is actually used in two forms-leaf parsley and root parsley. Both the leaf and the root are used in Mediterranean and European cuisines. It is consumed in many different ways which include garnishing, salads, stocks, sandwiches, etc. The leaf is further divided into two more types’ curly leaf and flat leaf. Root parsley is a new addition which was only cultivated about 300 years ago, which was first cultivated in Hamburg, Germany. Nowadays, root parsley is becoming more and more popular.
Nutritional Value of Parsley
The nutrients found in parsley include vitamin A, vitamin K, vitamin C, vitamin E, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, pantothenic acid, choline, folates, calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorous, potassium, zinc, copper. Parsley is also a very good source of volatile compounds such as myristicin, limonene, eugenol, alpha-thujene, etc. Parsley leaves contain energy carbohydrates, fat and protein respectively.
Health Benefits of Parsley
Parsley known for usage as a garnish has many nutrients which provide many health benefits. Some of which include:
Anti-diabetic properties: Traditionally, parsley was used as a medicine for diabetes in Turkey. In order to validate it scientifically, research was conducted at Marmara University in Istanbul, Turkey. The research showed evidence that diabetic rats which were given parsley actually showed a slash in the blood sugar levels over a period of month. The research indicates that parsley can be used for diabetic control
Controls rheumatoid arthritis: Parsley has also been effective particularly against rheumatoid arthritis. Compounds such as vitamin C, beta-carotene found in parsley possess anti-inflammatory properties that help in controlling arthritis. Taking parsley regularly is also believed to speed up the process of uric acid removal which has been linked to symptoms of arthritis.
Anti-carcinogenic properties: Zheng, Kenney and Lam from LKT Laboratories in Minneapolis, Minnesota have extracted a compound named myristicin, a phenylpropane compound from parsley oil extract. Preliminary investigation into myristicin compound had revealed that it has anti-carcinogenic properties. Myristicin extract from parsley was only tested on rats and human application of this compound still remains to be seen.
Anti-inflammatory properties: Parsley has traditionally been used in the Mediterranean for toothaches, bruises, insect bites and rough skin. According to preliminary study conducted at the King Saud University by Al-Howiriny et al. parsley displayed anti-inflammatory and anti-hepatotoxicity properties. The anti-inflammatory properties reduce in internal inflammations. The anti-hepatotoxic properties help in cleansing the liver.
Anti-osteoporotic properties: Parsley is effective in case of osteoporosis and is helpful in maintaining bone health. Osteoporosis occurs due to depleting levels of calcium in the bone and also due to an amino acid called homocysteine. This amino acid can be broken down by intake of folic acid. In this aspect, apart from dairy products and vegetables, parsley is regarded as a good source of calcium. It also contains the right amount of folic acid which may breakdown homocysteine.
Diuretic effects: For many centuries now, parsley has been used as a diuretic which helps in controlling various diseases such as the kidney stones, urinary tract infections, and gall bladder stones. Edema is a medical condition where in the patient retains fluid in the body more than what he or she is supposed to maintain under normal circumstances. The body swells because of fluid accumulation. Under such conditions, few teaspoons of parsley juice could provide some relief. The roots of parsley are also very much useful in counteracting kidney stones. Adding parsley roots to boiling water and drinking it on a daily basis is known to effective.
Strengthening immune system: The vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants found in parsley are helpful in strengthening the immunity. Vitamins such as vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin K, folate and niacin, each act on the different aspects of immune system. Vitamin A acts directly on lymphocytes or white blood cells increasing their effect. The chlorophyll contained in parsley has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties as well. Studies have showed that parsley contains anti-oxidant properties and anti-bacterial properties making them a good source for home remedies.
Possible risks of eating Parsley
Consumption of parsley especially in large quantities may have side effects and disadvantages. Some of them include:
Risky for pregnant women: Consumption of large quantities of parsley may induce uterine contractions during pregnancy. This at any stage during pregnancy can be very risky. Larger amounts are not safe for women who are breast feeding. Avoiding high consumption of parsley during pregnancy and breast feeding is advised.
Oxalate over consumption: Parsley has high quantity of oxalates. Their higher concentration can be particularly problematic with people who suffer from kidney stones.
Other: Parsley may make skin extra sensitive to sun and this may cause rash.
Quick Serving Tips
Garnish- Fresh parsley is a fragile and mild leaf and can be added to any dish at the time of garnish. In this way, the nutrients will be preserved and will not evaporate in the cooking process. Pasta is one popular preparation where parsley is extensively used.
Soups – Parsley can be added in soups such as tomato soups and sauces before serving for added flavor and aroma.
Salads and juices- Parsley can be consumed directly in fruit salads, vegetable salads and fruit or vegetable juices.
Fresh and dried parsley can be both used for adding flavor to various food preparations.