Parsley is a flowering plant native to the Mediterranean. The two most common types are French curly-leaf. over the years, parsley has been used to treat conditions like high blood pressure, allergies, and inflammatory diseases.
Today, it’s widely used as a fresh culinary herb or dried spice. It’s bright green in color and has a mild, bitter flavor that pairs well with many recipes.
Often labeled as one of the most powerful disease-fighting plants, parsley provides great nutritional value and offers many potential health benefits.
HEALTH BENEFITS AND USES OF PARSLEY
■ CONTAINS MANY IMPORTANT NUTRIENTS
Parsley offers many more nutrients than people suspect.
A 1/2 cup (30 grams) of fresh, chopped parsley provides.
●Calories: 11 calories
●Carbs: 2 grams
●Protein: 1 gram
●Fat: less than 1 gram
●Fiber: 1 gram
●Vitamin A: 108% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI)
●Vitamin C: 53% of the RDI
●Vitamin K: 547% of the RDI
●Folate: 11% of the RDI
●Potassium: 4% of the RDI
The herb is rich in many vitamins, particularly vitamin K, which is needed for blood clotting and bone health.
Parsley is also a great source of vitamins A and C – important nutrients with antioxidant properties.
Additionally, it’s very low in calories yet packed with flavor, making it a great low-calorie ingredient for many recipes.
Parsley is a low-calorie, nutrient-dense herb. It’s particularly rich in vitamins K, A, and C.
■ RICH IN ANTIOXIDANTS
Parsley contains many powerful antioxidants that can benefit your health.
Antioxidants are compounds that prevent cellular damage from molecules called free radicals. Your body requires a healthy balance of antioxidants and free radicals to maintain optimal health.
The main antioxidants in parsley are:
The fragrant herb is particularly rich in a class of antioxidants known as flavonoids. The two main flavonoids include myricetin and apigenin.
Studies show that diets rich in flavonoids may lower your risk of conditions, including colon cancer, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease
Furthermore, beta carotene and lutein are two antioxidants known as carotenoids. Many studies associate higher intake of carotenoids with a reduced risk of certain diseases, including lung cancer.
Vitamin C also has strong antioxidant effects and plays an important role in supporting immune health and protecting against chronic disease.
Interestingly, dried parsley may be higher in antioxidants than fresh sprigs. In fact, one study found that the dried herb had 17 times more antioxidant content than its fresh counterpart.
Parsley contains many powerful antioxidants, which may help prevent cell damage and lower your risk of certain diseases.
■ SUPPORTS BONE HEALTH
Your bones need certain vitamins and minerals in varying amounts to remain healthy and strong.
Parsley is packed with vitamin K – an essential nutrient for bone health. A 1/2 cup (30 grams) provides an impressive 547% of the RDI.
Vitamin K helps build stronger bones by supporting home-building cells called osteoblasts. This vitamin also activates certain proteins that increase bone minerals density – a measure of the amount of minerals present in your bones.
Bone density is Important, as a lower bone mineral density is associated with an increased risk of fractures – especially in older adults.
Some studies suggest that eating food high in vitamin K may reduce your risk of fractures. One study found that higher vitamin K intake was associated with a 22% lower risk of fractures.
Typical dietary intakes of vitamin K may be below the levels needed to improve bone mineral density and reduce fracture risk. Therefore, eating foods like parsley, may benefit bone health.
Parsley is rich in vitamin K, which is an essential nutrient for optimal bone health. Eating foods high in this nutrient has been linked to a reduced risk of fractures and improved bone mineral density.
■ CONTAINS CANCER-FIGHTING SUBSTANCES
Parsley contains plant compounds that may have anticancer effects.
Oxidative stress – a condition characterized by an imbalance in levels of antioxidants and free radicals – is associated with the development of certain chronic diseases, including cancer.
Parsley is particularly rich in flavonoid antioxidants and vitamin C, which reduce oxidative stress in your body and may lower your risk of certain cancers.
High dietary intake of flavonoids in parsley – such as myricetin and apigenin – have shown anticancer activity in test-tube and animal studies.
Eating foods rich in vitamin C may reduce your risk of cancer as well. A 1/2 cup (30 grams) of parsley provides 53% of the RDI for this nutrient.
One study found that increasing vitamin C by 100 mg per day reduced the risk of overall cancer by 7%. Moreover, increasing dietary vitamin C by 150 mg per day may lower prostate cancer risk by up to 21%.
Parsley contains various antioxidants – like flavonoids and vitamin C – that may provide cancer-fighting benefits.
■ RICH IN NUTRIENTS THAT PROTECT YOUR EYES
Lutein, beta carotene, and zeaxanthin are three carotenoids in parsley that help protect your eyes and promote healthy vision. Carotenoids are pigments found in plants that have powerful antioxidant activity.
Lutein and zeaxanthin may prevent age-related macular degeneration (AMD), an incurable eye disease and a leading cause of blindness around the world.
In fact, eating foods rich in lutein and zeaxanthin may reduce your risk of late AMD by up to 26%.
Beta carotene is another carotenoids that supports eye health. This carotenoids can be converted into Vitamin A in your body.
This conversation of beta carotene explains why parsley is very rich in vitamin A. A 1/2 cup (30 grams) of freshly chopped leaves provides 108% of the RDI for this vitamin.
Vitamin A is essential eye health, as it helps protect the cornea – the outermost layer of your eye – as well as the conjunctiva – the thin membrane covering the front of your eye and the inside of your eyelids.
Parsley contains lutein, zeaxanthin, and beta carotene, plant compounds that protect eye health and may reduce. Your risk of certain age-related eye conditions like AMD.
■ MAY IMPROVE HEART HEALTH
Parsley is a nutrient-dense herb that may improve heart health. It’s a good source of the B vitamin folate – with 1/2 cup (30 grams) providing 11% of the RDI.
High intakes of dietary folate may reduce heart disease risk in certain populations. A large study in over 58,000 people found that the highest intake of folate was associated with a 38% reduced risk of heart disease.
Conversely, low intake of folate may increase your risk of heart disease. One study in 1,980 men observed a 55% increase in heart disease risk in those with the lowest intake of this nutrient.
Some experts hypothesize that folate benefits heart health by lowering levels of the amino acid homocysteine. High homocysteine levels have been linked to a higher risk of heart diseases in some studies.
Homocysteine may negatively affect heart health by altering the structure and function of your arteries. However, the connection between this amino acid and heart disease still remains controversial.
Parsley is rich in folate, a B vitamin that protects your heart and may reduce your risk of heart disease.
■ PARSLEY EXTRACT HAS ANTIBACTERIAL PROPERTIES
Parsley may have antibacterial benefits when used as an extract.
A test-tube study demonstrated that the extract showed significant antibacterial activity against yeast, molds, and a common, infection-causing bacteria known as S. aureus.
The extract may also prevent the growth of bacteria in food. Another test-tube study found in prevented the growth of potentially harmful bacteria, such as Listeria and Salmonella – both known to cause food poisoning.
Though the extract shows antibacterial potential in test-tube studies, these benefits have not yet been studied in humans.
Parsley extract has been shown to have antibacterial properties in test-tube studies. Still, more research is needed.