Parsley: A Nutritional Powerhouse For Vital Health

Anthia Koullouros

Naturopath and Holistic Health Expert

Parsley, the humble herb, is widely used in European, Middle Eastern, Brazilian and American cooking. It is commonly used to garnish dishes, to flavour stocks, broths, soups, sauces, stews, casseroles, and risottos or be the hero of a dish like in a Lebanese tabouli.

There are two kinds of parsley – curly and flat leaf. It is the curly leaf parsley that is commonly used as a garnish.

Parsley has long been revered in ancient history. According to Mrs Grieves, A Modern Herbal, “The Greeks held Parsley in high esteem, crowning the victors with chaplets of Parsley at the Isthmian games, and making with it wreaths for adorning the tombs of their dead”.

parsley

Health benefits

 1 cup or 60g of parsley contains:

– 984mcg of vitamin K1. K1 goes directly to the liver and helps you maintain healthy blood clotting. Bacteria in the bowel convert vitamin K1 to Vitamin K2. K2 goes straight to the blood vessel walls and bones and protects against heart disease and osteoporosis.

– 2mcg of Folate. Folate deficiency can lead to elevated homocysteine levels, which can be a major contributor to heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease. Folate is also useful for preventing depression and seizure disorders.

– 8mg of Vitamin C. Vitamin C protects against immune system deficiencies, cardiovascular disease, prenatal health problems, eye disease, and skin ageing.

– 8mg of Calcium. Calcium strengthens bones and teeth, regulates muscle functioning, such as contraction and relaxation, blood clotting, transmission of nervous system messages and enzyme function.

– 30mg of Magnesium is found in more than 300 different enzymes in the body and plays a role in the body’s detoxification processes, activating muscles and nerves, creating energy, helping digest proteins, carbohydrates, and fats and acting as a precursor for neurotransmitters like serotonin.

– 332mg of Potassium helps nerves and muscles communicate, move nutrients into cells and waste products out of cells and offset some of sodium’s harmful effects on blood pressure.

Parsley is a rich source of Beta-carotene, which concerts to vitamin A in the small intestine. It improves immune function, prevents the oxidation of fats (it acts as a powerful antioxidant), maintains night vision and protects against sunburn. Note: for beta–carotene to be optimally converted into Vitamin A, eat it with healthy eggs and butter or other healthy animal fats and proteins such as those from pastured or open range farming systems or wild fish and seafood.

Parsley is also a very good source of other antioxidants – apiin, apigenin, crisoeriol, and alphathujen and volatile oils include myristicin, limonene, apiol, and alpha-thujene such as lycopene, luteolin, lutein, myristicin, limonene, eugenol, and alpha-thujene. These special constituents have been show to protect against cancer and other chronic conditions.

Parsley is a good source of chlorophyll (though not as rich as chlorella), which binds to heavy metals and toxins.

The many ways to use parsley

– Salsa verde – is a green sauce made from chopped parsley, vinegar, capers, garlic, onion, anchovies and olive oil. Serve with eggs, fish, seafood and meat.
– Gremolata – chopped herb condiment made of parsley, lemon zest and garlic. Serve with eggs, fish, seafood and meat.
– Bouquet garni – is a bundle of herbs tied together with string, used to prepare stock, broth, soups and stews. Alongside parsley, other herbs such as basil, thyme, sage, bay, chervil, tarragon and burnet may be used.
– Persillade – is a sauce or seasoning mixture of parsley chopped together with seasonings including garlic, herbs, oil, and vinegar. Serve with fish, seafood and meat.
– Salad – add coarsely chopped leaves and stalks or use the whole leaves and save the stalks for stocks.
– Stews and casseroles – finely chopped and stirred through.
– Omelet or frittata
– Juice – instead of spinach and kale, get your green juice from parsley, especially if you are iron or iodine deficient. The oxalates in raw spinach bind to iron and the goitrogens in raw kale bind to iodine.

 

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