Parsley belongs to the plant family Apiaceae and is known by the botanical name Petroselinum crispum. It is a popular seasoning herb, used to flavor soups, stews, sauces, fish and a number of meat dishes. Commercially, two varieties of parsley are available, namely the Curly leaf parsley and the Flat leaf parsley. Of the two, the former is mainly used for the purpose of garnishing. However, the Flat leaf variety has a much stronger flavor than its curly counterpart. The strong fragrance and aroma of the herb is due to the presence of essential oil apiol. It is native to the Mediterranean zone of Southern Europe and has been used as an important medicinal and healing herb, for thousands of years. In fact, the ancient Greeks held it sacred, as they used it for decorating tombs of the deceased. To know more about the diverse health benefits of consuming parsley, read the pointers given below.
Health Benefits Of Eating Parsley
- One of the major health benefits of consuming parsley is that they lessen the risk of cancer in human body. The volatile oil myristicin, present in parsley leaves, prevents the proliferation of cancer cells in the body.
- Regular intake of fresh parsley is associated with reduced risk of inflammatory conditions like Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) and Osteoarthritis (OA) and also the innumerous side-effects associated with these conditions.
- The vitamin C present in parsley is an important natural water soluble antioxidant and has a number of beneficial effects on the human body. It helps strengthen the immune system, enhance the absorption of iron from intestines, maintain the elastic properties of skin and blood vessels and prevent the bruising of skin as well.
- The other major antioxidants present in parsley are flavonoid and luteolin. They help neutralize the free radicals in the body, especially the oxygen radicals, thereby preventing the damage of cell membranes.
- Parsley is a good source of the vitamin folic acid, which is very important for the promotion and maintenance of a healthy heart. Its main function is to prevent the excessive accumulation of homocysteine (a harmful metabolite of protein metabolism) in the human body. This metabolite increases the risk of atherosclerosis, by reducing the integrity of the blood vessel walls and interfering with the formation of collagen.
- The vitamin C, along with beta carotenes present in parsley, scavenge free radicals from the body, maintain cell wall integrity and reduce the occurrence of heart diseases, cancer and other degenerative diseases.
- A major function of the vitamin A present in the herb is to maintain smooth and radiant skin, by fighting against acne. It also enhances the eye-sight.
- Parsley is also rich in many B-group vitamins (B6, thiamin, niacin and riboflavin), which are very essential for the production of energy from food.
- A good source of dietary fiber, parsley adds roughage to the intestinal contents, promotes satiety, aids in maintaining a healthy colon and also helps relieve certain conditions, like hemorrhoids, constipation and diverticular disorders.
- Apart from being a good source of vitamins, parsley is also rich in certain minerals, like iron, potassium, magnesium, zinc and manganese, which are involved in different metabolic processes in the human body.
- Parsley contains a measurable amount of the naturally-occurring substance called oxalates. When oxalates become too concentrated in the body fluids, they can crystallize and cause health problems. Hence, people suffering from existing or untreated gall bladder and kidney problems should avoid the excessive consumption of parsley. Oxalates also interfere with the absorption of calcium from the body.
- Prior to cooking, fresh parsley should be cleaned properly, by placing it in a bowl containing cold water and cleaning it by using swishing movements of the hands. This will enable you to dislodge any dirt or sand that may be present in the leaves. Repeat this process until no dirt remains in the water.
- Due to its stronger flavor, the Italian flat variety of parsley is preferred over its curly counterpart, for the purpose of cooking and is generally used for preparing a number of hot dishes.
- Parsley leaves should always be added towards the end of the cooking process, so that their color, taste and nutritional value remain intact.
- If you want to make a light colored sauce, use the stem portion of parsley, rather than the leaves. This will enable you to add the typical flavor of parsley into the dish, without imparting the green color.