We tend to overlook parsley as a garnish that, aside from giving our steak a touch more je ne sais quoi, rarely gets us excited. But this healthy herb does much more than just make your dish look pretty.
Originating from the regions of southern Italy, Algeria, and Tunisia, parsley is popular in the notoriously healthy Mediterranean diet, which has been proven to help fight against heart disease, certain cancers, diabetes and cognitive decline.
Aside from being a delicious addition to your meals, parsley comes packed with many impressive health benefits that you’ll be thankful to know about;
Parsley contains a powerful plant nutrient called apigenin, which has anti-cancer activity against mesothelioma cancer cells. Quite impressively, research shows that apigenin:
- Supports the function of tumour-suppressor genes
- Improves cell-to-cell communication
- Hinders gene activity known to promote cancer cell growth
- Curbs new blood vessel development around cancer cells
- Promotes cancer cell death
- Improves efficacy of chemotherapy drugs
Myricetin is a another flavonoid found in parsley and other plants that has been linked to the prevention of certain cancers, including breast, thyroid and skin cancer.
Interestingly – studies have shown that parsley can block the cancer-causing effects of heterocyclic amines, which are chemical compounds generated when meat is grilled at high temperatures. So next time you decide to char up a steak, try teaming it with a fresh herb salad to help counteract some of the damage.
The myricetin in parsley has also been shown to lower blood sugar levels and decrease insulin resistance, helping to combat diabetes.
It also provides anti-inflammatory effects that can help alleviate paid and other side effects of the condition, whilst helping to remove excess fat from the blood too.
Promotes a Healthy Heart
Parsley contains many plant compounds, including carotenoid antioxidants, which have been found to benefit heart health by reducing heart disease risk factors. It also contains folate, an important B vitamin, which helps lowers levels of the harmful amino acid homocysteine.
Additionally, its high levels of nitrates help dilate blood vessels, which improves blood flow and lowers high blood pressure. Research indicates that nitrate-rich foods like parsley can help maintain healthy blood pressure levels.
Boosts Vitamin Intake
Just one cup of parsley contains over 1200% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin K, which is required for blood clotting, bone health and improvement of calcium absorption in the body. That equates to only 10 sprigs for your daily quota – an achievable target to hit!
As such, it is important not to suddenly alter the amount of vitamin K in the diet while taking blood-thinners such as Coumadin, or warfarin.
Additionally, parsley is packed with vitamin C, which improves heart health, protect your cells from damage caused by free radicals, and supporting your immune system.
If you struggle with your iron levels, adding parsley to your meals can help with its absorption too.
Parsley contains a volatile oil called eugenol that has been shown in studies to have strong anti-inflammatory as well as anti-arthritic properties that significantly suppress swelling in the joint. It’s high levels of antioxidants like vitamin C, A, and E, further help soothe inflammation, which can ease symptoms even more.
Convinced that it’s time to step up your parsley game? Here are some easy ways to sneak a dose into your dishes:
1. Sprinkle in your soup and sauces: You can add dried parsley to pretty much any savoury soup, or you can make the fresh herb a central ingredient in your broth.
2. Add to your salads: Freshly chopped parsley adds great flavour and texture to salads, especially when it’s made to compliment a Mediterranean main. Try stirring into grains like quinoa or bulgar wheat too.
3. Use it in a dressing: Parsley compliments oil-based sauces and pairs perfectly with grilled chicken, steak, or fish.
4. Roast it with your veggies: Take your veggies up a notch and rub with olive oil, dried parsley, garlic, and basil before popping in the over.
5. Garnish away: Finish off your favourite omelette, quiche, avo toast or pasta dish with a handful of chopped fresh parsley to up the flavour and health benefits.