Parsley – Underloved Power Plant

parsleyWhen I was growing up, parsley was the ubiquitous, nearly obligatory bit of chopped green floating on the soup or mixed in with boiled potatoes tossed in butter – no one thought of its health benefits.

Often enough it was that almost-annoying-garnish in restaurants to buffets, carefully lifted away or pushed to the side.  Or added as an afterthought at home hoping to emulate a fancy presentation.

Most men seemed to have a strong aversion to it, as if eating would damage their male pride and image (you’ve heard the jokes about its uselessness as a tasteless rabbit food, I’m sure).

Then I discovered Lebanese style tabouleh – which, unlike other versions is really a parsley salad with a little bulgar and co. accompanying it.  It was a WOW experience and I fell in love with its taste forever thereafter.

“How could anyone call it tasteless”, I wondered.

Little did I know then that parsley is more than just a tasty, pretty face bit of green.  It is a veritable power house of goodness.  Just 2 tablespoons of chopped parsley supply 153% of the daily recommended dose of Vit. K which – among other things – may also help those dark under eye circles.

Here’s a short list of its glorious green goodness:

  • Excellent source of Vit. A, Vit. C, and zeaxanthin and lutein.  These are also known as the macular carotenoids and in general protect the eyes also from hours of screen glare.
  • Supports the immune system (Vit. A and C.)
  • The Vit. K in just 10 sprigs can improve bone health, reduce the risk of fractures and improve calcium absorption.
  • Anti-oxidant flavonoids such as beta-carotene and luteolin.
  • Anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant capability via a special bioactive flavonoid called apigenin.
  • Contains the anti-oxidant myristicin, which activates an enzyme that prevents free radical damage.
  • Myristicin in parsley can help prevent diabetes and decrease insulin resistance.
  • Chemoprotective via its volatile oils such as limonene, myristicin, eugenol, and alpha-thujene.  Particularly, myristicin seems to neutralize certain carcinogenic agents such as the benzopyrenes found in smoking or the smoke from grilling food.
  • Good source of folic acid, crucial for proper cell division.
  • Heart health – the folate (Vit. B9)  in parsley helps convert homocysteine into harmless molecules.

How to Use It

More than you ever did before.  Think raw veggie salads such as tomato or carrot, bean salads, smoothies, omelettes, stews, soups.  Nearly everything excepting perhaps sweet dishes! Add it at the end of your hot dishes with the heat off and let the chopped parsley infuse a few moments before serving (except omelettes due to the very short cooking time).

Taking it as a tea is another excellent way to benefit from parsley.  Use about 1/4 cup (roughly 3 tablespoons of coarsely chopped parsley) and place in a large tea ball or basket.  Poor over boiling water, cover and allow to steep 5-8 minutes.  Remove parsley and enjoy.

Best Way to Store Parsley

Frozen parsley logs.  I have found this to be the most practical way to keep a supply of not-quite-fresh-but-frozen parsley.  You will find the link below to another site with full photos and tips.  A lot of parsley will fit into a well packed parsley log and you will find that just a slice or two off it will be plenty for topping any hot dish or for adding into a sauce or salad.

Major tip:  As SOON as you slice off what you want, return it to the freezer.  Parsley un-thaws amazingly quick.  This works for any soft herb such as chives, basil or chervil.  Just be sure your rinsed herb is absolutely dry.

Aim for a generous tablespoon a day of this powerhouse of goodness to reap parsley’s healthy benefits!

Resources:

 

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