Parsley is a herb, that has been cultivated and used by humans for over 2,000 years. Studies show that, this herb has been popular for its medicinal properties from the Middle Ages. The word parsley is derived from a Greek word that means 'rock-celery', as it is related to celery. Parsley was used by the ancient Greeks to decorate tombs, as they considered it sacred; and were also aware of its healing properties. It was the Romans, who started using parsley for garnishing food items. Nowadays, people use it as a garnish and often discard parsley after use, as they are unaware of its health benefits and nutritional value.

Parsley Types

There are many varieties of parsley, and the most popular among them are the flat leaf type and the curly leaf type. While the latter is tightly curled with a green mossy look, the former has deeply divided, flat leaves, like celery. The flat leaf type is known as Italian parsley. Health benefits of this variety are also well recognized, and it is widely used for medicinal purposes. There is one more variety that is used in the Central and Eastern European cuisine. This variety, known as Hamburg parsley; has large, white, turnip-like roots, and tall, fern-like leaves. The leaves have a celery-like flavor, and the roots are used in salads and soups. Among all the varieties, Italian parsley has a stronger flavor and is widely used.

Nutritional Value

Parsley is a rich source of vitamin K, vitamin A, beta carotene, vitamin C, iron, and folate. It contains a fair amount of other vitamins and minerals, and is also very low in calories. The volatile oil compounds in parsley include myristicin, limonene, eugenol, and alpha-thujene. Flavonoids, like apiin, apigenin, crisoeriol, and luteolin are also present in this herb.

Health Benefits

Apart from garnishing soups, meats, and a wide range of dishes, parsley offers numerous health benefits too. Parsley tea is used as a remedy for various health problems. This herb was used in ancient Greek medicine and in Ayurveda, to treat flatulence, dyspepsia and menstrual disorders. Almost all parts of this plant are used for medicinal purposes; especially the leaves, roots and seeds. Usually, it is the Italian parsley that is used for therapeutic purposes.
  • Parsley is good for the heart, as it contains folate, which promotes cardiovascular health. Folate is useful for converting homocysteine (a molecule, which at high levels can damage the blood vessels) into harmless molecules, and for reducing the risk of stroke and heart attack.
  • Regular consumption of parsley is beneficial for lowering the blood pressure, which in turn reduces the risk of diseases that can be caused by this condition.
  • This herb is good for the healthy functioning of the kidneys. It aids excretion of sodium and water; thereby preventing retention of water and salt in the body, and constriction of blood vessels. This herb is also good for strengthening the urinary bladder and for preventing kidney stones.
  • Parsley is said to be good for cleansing blood vessels, as it dissolves the sticky deposits in the veins. It is also good for maintaining the elasticity of the blood vessels.
  • The high levels of vitamin C in parsley prevent osteoarthritis and inflammatory polyarthritis, a type of rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Enhancing sexual desire is also one of the parsley health benefits. It is also used as a herbal medicine for treating menstrual problems and for improving male fertility.
  • Intake of this herb is useful for preventing tumor, as folate plays an important role in proper cell division. So, it prevents the abnormal and rapid cell division that causes cancer, especially in the colon and cervix. The antioxidants and flavonoids in parsley are also beneficial for preventing tumor and cancer.
  • Parsley can also ward off bad breath or halitosis. The chlorophyll content in this herb is responsible for counterbalancing the breath odor.
  • It is also used to treat deafness, ear infections, bruises, digestive problems, anemia, diarrhea, gallstones, gout, insect bites, liver congestion, etc. Parsley strengthens teeth, and aids weight loss too.
Even dried parsley is used to treat various health problems, like gastrointestinal disorders and urinary tract infections. So, don't throw away this herb, the next time you use it for garnishing.

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.