Why Everyone Should Upgrade Parsley from Plain Old Garnish to Healthy Salad2 weeks ago | Nutrition
By Joy Stephenson-Laws, JD, Founder
Whenever the word parsley comes to mind, I usually think of decorations for my dinner table at Christmas or Thanksgiving time. I don’t recall ever eating it, so I decided to do some research to see if it was worth the effort to start eating this plant.
Parsley derives its name from the Greek word meaning “rock celery” and is also a relative of celery. Since I am a gardener, what really fascinates me about parsley is it is a biennial plant, meaning it will return to your garden year after year after you first plant it.
I found out these little, delicate leaves pack just as much of a nutritional punch as some of your favorite fruits and veggies. You may want to consider making this often overlooked herb the star of your next meal.
- Calcium, 83 mg. Along with building and maintaining strong healthy bones and teeth, this mineral is needed in many vital body processes like muscle contraction, bone metabolism, blood clotting, hormone release, neurotransmitters and many more. Calcium may even decrease your risk of colorectal cancer.
- Magnesium, 30 mg. This mineral helps regulate blood pressure, contributes to bone metabolism and has antioxidant functions. Magnesium is also great for pain management. Many people use magnesium as a safe alternative to ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Magnesium may even help alleviate leg cramps women may experience during pregnancy.
- Phosphorus, 35 mg. This mineral is associated with weight loss. Studies show that individuals with high levels of phosphorus tend to have lower body weight. Phosphorus may also help the body filter waste.
- Potassium, 332 mg. Potassium may help lower blood pressure by balancing out negative effects of salt. According to Harvard Health, “[w]hen it comes to fighting high blood pressure, the average American diet delivers too much sodium and too little potassium. Eating to reverse this imbalance could prevent or control high blood pressure and translate into fewer heart attacks, strokes, and deaths from heart disease.” Parsley is a great way to add flavor to your food without adding salt.
- Vitamin C, 79.8 mg. I constantly speak highly of this powerhouse vitamin. Due to my personal genetic ability to keep vitamin C in my body, I need more than the RDA of vitamin C for a woman, which is 75 mg (roughly one medium-sized orange). It’s nice to know I can add parsley to my diet as an additional source of vitamin C. Vitamin C has numerous benefits and antioxidant properties. This vitamin may even help you recover quicker after surgery.
- Vitamin A, 253 mcg. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, [w]e need vitamin A for good vision and eye health, for a strong immune system, and for healthy skin and mucous membranes.” Vitamin A may also reduce the development of cataracts and may reduce macular degeneration, the leading cause of vision loss.
- Folate, 91 mcg. Most adults need about 400 mcg of folate daily. If you are pregnant, you may need more. Folate is essential for cell growth and many other bodily functions. To see how much folate you need, click here.
- Lutein (loo-teen) + Zeaxanthin (zee-uh-zan-thin), 3,337 mcg. These are carotenoids (plant pigments that give many fruits and vegetables their vibrant colors). They are also antioxidants located in the eye. It makes sense that these materials may be great for your eye health. “Lutein and zeaxanthin filter harmful high-energy blue wavelengths of light and help protect and maintain healthy cells in the eyes. Of the 600 carotenoids found in nature, only these two are deposited in high quantities in the retina (macula) of the eye,” reports the American Optometric Association.
I know what some of you may be thinking: I don’t like the taste of parsley. I have a tip for you: add parsley to a fruit smoothie. I know it sounds odd, but the sweetness of the fruit balances perfectly with the earthy taste of the parsley. You will forget there is even parsley in your smoothie.
Check out this recipe for this Parsley, Pineapple & Green Smoothie.
For those of you who do enjoy the taste of parsley, there are innovative ways you can use it other than using it as a simple seasoning. Try making parsley pesto or chimichurri, a delicious Argentinian sauce that is excellent on grilled meats or with bread.
I now put these sauces on sandwiches, so I don’t have to use fattening mayo. It makes me feel like I’m eating something out of a artisanal, gourmet shop.
I love it when I can effortlessly consume a high intake of multiple nutrients from one natural food source. Sometimes we are crunched for time, and it is hard to chop up fresh veggies or make home cooked meals. As I continue to explore the nutritional value of certain foods, I am starting to realize there are herbs and plants you can incorporate into your diet with practically no work at all.
Trying new and different things with healthy foods is key in maintaining a healthy diet long-term, and a healthy diet is one of the best ways we can be proactive about our overall health.
What’s your favorite herb?
Enjoy your healthy life!
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