A lot of us think that parsley only acts as a garnish for food, making the plate look more presentable and attractive. Some people just toss the leaf away or push them to the side of the plate. Not a lot of people actually eat them along with their meals. However, there’s more to this herb than meets the eye. It’s even labeled as one of the superfoods that you should try out.
Parsley is a flowering plant native to the central Mediterranean region. It is widely cultivated as an herb, a spice, and as a vegetable. Its leaves boast a bright green color.
It is used all over the world, especially in European, Middle Eastern, and American cooking. The two most popular types are Italian flat leaf parsley and curly parsley. The Italian kind is more fragrant and has a less bitter taste than the curly one.
Its name is from two Greek words. The first is petrose, which means “rock.” The other is selenium, which is an ancient name for celery. Literally, parsley means “rock celery.”
Half a cup of freshly chopped parsley has only around 8 calories and zero cholesterol. It’s very rich in vitamin K, and also has vitamins A, C, and E. Additional vitamins include riboflavin, thiamin, niacin, vitamin B6, pantothenic acid, and folate. It also contains iron, zinc, copper, potassium, phosphorus, sodium, calcium, magnesium, and manganese. To add to that, parsley also possesses protein, omega-3 fatty acids, omega-6 fatty acids, dietary fiber, and healthy carbohydrates.
I’m sure a lot of you are still skeptical about this plant. So what exactly can this small herb actually do? Well, you’d be surprised. Let’s go take a look.
Builds Up Immunity
The flavonoids and antioxidants in parsley prevent oxygen-based damage to cells. The antioxidants also make sure that harmful free radicals won’t be able to do damage to the body. Vitamin C ensures the healthy function of the immune system. This prevents easily getting colds, cough, and the flu. Vitamin A increases the production and effectivity of white blood cells.
Gives Clearer Skin
The vitamin A content fights the signs of skin aging and protects the skin from UV light damage. The vitamin C content also contributes in giving you that glowing and radiant skin. It produces collagen, which is vital for younger-looking healthy skin. Parsley can applied topically as well and is great in soothing insect bites and slight burns and cuts. It soothes them and helps in the healing process. Another positive about parsley is it helps with skin discolorations and dark spots and fights against wrinkles, laugh lines, and crow’s feet.
Improves Oral Hygiene
Parsley is nature’s breath freshener. It effectively kills bacteria in the mouth that causes bad odors. It’s powerful enough to overpower even the strongest cases of halitosis and bad breath caused by eating garlic, onions, and other high-sulfur foods. Just chew on a couple of parsley leaves after dinner, and you’ll lose that foul-smelling breath in no time.
Boosts Eye Health
Vitamin A and beta-carotene in parsley help improve the eyes. They protect the retina and the cornea from age-related damages. They also prevent eye disorders, like cataracts and macular degeneration. And finally, they protect the eye from UV light damage.
Steps Up Bone Health
Osteoporosis is because of depleted levels of calcium in the bones. The amino acid homocysteine also causes osteoporosis. The folate content in parsley maintains bone healthy by breaking down this harmful amino acid. It is also a good source of calcium, which is essential for proper bone growth and strong bones.
Also, because of its very high vitamin K content, it maintains bone density and fights bone breakage and fractures.
Strengthens the Heart
The folate content in parsley converts homocysteine to benign molecules. Homocysteines are dangerous molecules that do damage to the blood vessels when they reach high levels. This greatly increases the risk of heart attack and stroke.
The regular intake of parsley also lowers blood pressure due to its potassium content. Also, this herb prevents the thickening of the artery walls and prevent blood vessels from oxidative damage.
Acts as a Diuretic
Since ancient times, this herb has been used to control a variety of diseases. Some examples are kidney stones, urinary tract infections (UTI), and gallbladder stones. It is a natural diuretic that relieves water retention and eases bloating.
Parsley also gives quick relief from edema. Edema is a medical condition where a person retains extra fluid in the body. It’s great at expelling watery poisons, excess mucoid matter, and flatulence. Parsley roots in boiling water is also a great general cleanser for the body.
Manages Menstruation Woes
Drinking parsley tea helps you if you have irregular or painful menstruation. And if your period is late and you have that beach vacation coming up, drinking this tea stimulates your menstruation. Take note, however, this should not be done if you think you’re pregnant.
Oils in this herb stop tumor formation, particularly in the lungs. They are also able to neutralize particular types of carcinogens. One example is benzopyrene. This is found in cigarette smoke and charcoal grill smoke. Parsley also has the compound myristicin, which also has anti-carcinogenic properties.
In addition, parsley is called a chemoprotective plant as it protects DNA from damage, stops cell mutation, and helps induce apoptosis (the death of harmful and possibly cancerous cells). One of its compounds, apigenin, also “inhibits progestin-dependent synthesis of human breast cancer cells, significantly delaying the development of and decreasing the incidence and multiplicity of mammary tumors.”
It is especially effective against breast cancer, prostate cancer, colon cancer, and skin cancer.
Fights against Arthritis
Vitamin C and beta-carotene play a role here. They possess anti-inflammatory properties that provide protection against rheumatoid arthritis. Regular consumption of parsley also speeds up the process of uric acid removal. This is a symptom of arthritis.
Also, drinking tea made from parsley soothes aching joints from arthritis.
Improves Digestive System
This herb increase bile production and beneficial gastric juices that are essential for proper enzyme functions involved in food and nutrient absorption. Because of this, parsley is effective in treating numerous gastrointestinal disorders. This includes gas, bloating, constipation, indigestion, and nausea.