While parsley is a wonderfully nutritious and healing food, it is often under-appreciated. Most people do not realize that this vegetable has more uses than just being a decorative garnish that accompanies restaurant meals. They do not know that parsley is actually a storehouse of nutrients and that it features a delicious green and vibrant taste.
The two most popular types of parsley are curly parsley and Italian flat leaf parsley. The Italian variety has a more fragrant and less bitter taste than the curly variety. There is also another type of parsley known as turnip-rooted (or Hamburg) that is cultivated for its roots, which resemble salsify and burdock. Parsley belongs to the Umbelliferae family of plants, and its Latin name is Petroselinum crispum.
Health Benefits of Parsley
Fights cancer. Parsley contains volatile oils that have been found to inhibit tumor formation in animal studies, particularly those in the lungs. The oils are not only cancer-fighting, they’re also known to neutralize carcinogens including those found in cigarette smoke and charcoal grill smoke. Parsley also contains folic acid, which has been found to help prevent colon and cervical cancers.
Antioxidant-rich. Parsley contains beneficial antioxidant compounds called flavonoids. These compounds combine with oxygen-containing molecules and help prevent oxygen-based damage to cells. Parsley extracts have also been found to increase the antioxidant capacity of the blood in animal studies.
Good for the heart. The folic acid in parsley is a critical nutrient in cardiovascular health. Specifically, folic acid helps convert potentially dangerous homocysteine into harmless molecules, a process that protects blood vessels and reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke.
Protects against rheumatoid arthritis. A study published in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases found that people who ate the least amount of vitamin-C-rich foods (like parsley) had a three times greater chance of developing rheumatoid arthritis than those who ate the most.