Health Benefits of Parsley – The Rock Celery
Parsley is a popular herb, used often as a decorative adornment in food. But, many of us are unaware of the health benefits that it provides. Parsley is useful as a digestive aid and natural breath freshener. The other health benefits include reducing risk of cancer and diabetes, and preventing osteoporosis and arthritis. Read on to know more about the health benefits of parsley in detail!
Parsley is commonly known as “Ajmood” in Hindi. Parsley is scientifically known as Petroselinum crispum which is cultivated widely as a herb, a spice and a vegetable. It is native to the Central Mediterranean region and is also grown elsewhere in Europe. The botanical name of parsley comes from the Greek words “petros” and “selinon”, which mean ‘rock’ and ‘celery’ respectively.
Did You Know?
– Parsley looks similar to poison hemlock found in the Mediterranean region
– At Roman weddings, wreaths of parsley were given to protect the bride and the groom against evil spirits
– Parsley grows in cool climates or in subtropical warm climates
Parsley used to grow only in Greece, but they were not used for consumption. The Ancient Greeks associated parsley with death, as it was considered to have emerged from the blood of Archemorus, whose name meant ‘Forerunner of Death’. The Greeks used the herb to make wreaths for graves.
There are three common varieties of parsley. The flat-leaf parsley (Italian parsley), curly leaf parsley and parsnip rooted (Hamburg parsley). The curly type are clean, fresh and has a crispy taste of the bright green leaves. It is essential for the classic flavouring in French dishes. The flat leaf or Italian parsley (Petroselinum neapolitanum) has a delicate saw-toothed leaf pattern which does not go well for garnishing. Hamburg parsley or soup parsley is a clear winner among all the other types, as the roots offer an enriching flavour to your palate. It is a popular ingredient in many soups, gravies and vegetable purees.
Health Benefits of Parsley
Many people consider parsley to be a garnishing element in food, but it has much more precious qualities. Parsley is a good source of dietary fibre, which helps in reducing constipation by improving peristaltic movements of the large intestine. It also contains vitamin C which is essential for the health of bones, muscles and blood vessels.
Vitamin A present in parsley improves eyesight and also strengthens the immune system. The calcium present in it helps in building strong bones and teeth. There is also a relative presence of vitamin K, which aids in clotting of blood during any injury to the body. It also contains potassium and folate.
Additionally, parsley is rich in flavonoid antioxidants, including apigenin that combines with highly reactive oxygen containing molecules called oxygen radicals and helps to prevent oxygen based damage to body cells. It also contains essential oil compounds including eugenol and alpha-thujene, which inhibited tumour formation in animal studies, particularly in case of tumour formation in the lungs.
Let’s look deeper into some of the major health benefits of parsley.
Parsley contains volatile oils such as eugenol and alpha-thujene which helps in preventing the formation of cancerous cells in the body. These oils particularly help in slowing down tumour growth, neutralizing oxidative stress and fighting off carcinogens from the body. Additionally, these oils suppress the cancerous cells and prevents them from regenerating.
Traditionally, Parsley was among the medicinal herbs used by diabetes patients in Turkey and it has been reported to reduce blood glucose levels. Parsley contains myricetin, a bio-chemical compound that has the ability to prevent diabetes. A research conducted at Marmara University, Istanbul concluded that diabetic rats that ate parsley, had a decrease in their blood sugar levels over a period of one month. This research clearly indicates the beneficial effects of parsley on diabetic patients.
Improves Bone Health
Our bones consist of collagen and non-collagen protein. If a person does not consume enough calcium through the diet, then the body extracts calcium from the bones. As a result, one may experience loss of bone strength and bone mass.
Parsley contains calcium that prevents loss of calcium from the bones and makes them strong. It also contains vitamin K, which further improves bone density. Vitamin K improves calcium absorption in the bones and reduces the excretion of calcium through urine.
Cures Bad Breath
Parsley can cure bad breath by killing odour causing bacteria in the mouth. It also contains high amounts of chlorophyll which has anti-bacterial properties. It helps cure bad breath through a process of enzymatic deodorization and freshens the mouth.
Prevents Urinary Tract Infections
The roots and leaves of parsley have diuretic effects and helps in avoiding infection in the urinary tract, gall bladder and kidney stones. These also contain vitamin C, which has antioxidant properties that prevent any infections in the urinary tract. Additionally, parsley contains several flavonoids, which help in dissolving and breaking down kidney and gall bladder stones.
Maintains Skin Health
The high amount of vitamin C present in parsley nourishes the skin from within to reduce fine lines, wrinkles and scars. It also stimulates the production of collagen in the skin and promotes cell reproduction and repair.
How can we use parsley?
Parsley provides a light but signature flavour in food. You can use parsley for marinating meat, for making omelettes and for making stocks and stews. In recent times, parsley has gained a lot of importance in the restaurant kitchens. They are in high demand for making pesto sauce, pasta ravioli and even in quesadillas.
The classic garnish using parsley is the centre of attraction in many dishes but it also has various other benefits and uses.
Some uses of parsley:
- You can use the leaves of parsley fresh or dried as garnish and for adding subtle flavour to any dish.
- Certain parts of parsley contains essential oils, which has therapeutic properties due to the presence of apiol and myristicin. This herb helps treat insect bites, minor injuries and lice growth on the scalp.
- You can chew sprigs of fresh parsley to get rid of bad breath.
- Parsley seed can help decrease flatulence and colic pain.
- Parsley oil can also help you regulate menstrual flow.
Next time do think about adding parsley to your dishes, so that you can enjoy all its amazing health benefits. Let us know about your thoughts on this article in the comment box below or share further ideas on how to use this wonderful herb.
Disclaimer: Wash parsley thoroughly before using them. Keep them in the refrigerator, instead of keeping them outside on the kitchen counter. This helps to prevent growth of any bacteria inside the parsley leaves and stems, which might cause food poisoning. Parsley contains two substances called myristicin and apiol, which can stimulate uterine contractions in pregnant woman.
100g of Parsley provides 36 calories, Carbohydrates – 6g (Dietary Fibre – 3.3g, Sugar – 0.9g), Protein – 3g, Fat – 0.8g (Saturated fat-0.1g,PUFA – 0.1g, MUFA – 0.3g), Sodium – 56mg, Potassium – 554mg
Percentage daily value of Vitamin A – 168%, Vitamin C – 221%, Iron – 34%, Magnesium – 12%, Calcium – 13%, Vitamin B-6 – 5% (based on a 2,000 calorie diet).