Parsley Health Benefits and Recipes to Add More to Your Diet

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There are plentiful parsley health benefits, making the versatile herb a nutritional addition to many meals. Its mildly bitter flavor works well in an array of recipes, whether fused with other ingredients or used as a garnish. Curious to know more about this deeply green garnish? We’ve broken down some of the top health benefits of parsley and made it easy to add to your diet with some of our favorite recipes.

What Is Parsley?

Native to the central and eastern Mediterranean regions, parsley is a flowering plant that has been naturalized in Europe and widely used as a fresh or dried herb in dishes around the globe. Parsley is part of the Apiaceae family. It has a very distinctive taste, which is sometimes described as earthy and peppery.

There are two different types of parsley: curly leaf and flat leaf parsley. Curly leaf parsley has frilly leaves, while flat leaf parsley (also known as Italian parsley) has broader leaves that are stronger in flavor. Both types of parsley are packed with nutritional benefits and are used in various dishes, from soups and salads to sauces and garnishes.

Parsley Nutrition Facts

Parsley is a great source of vitamins and minerals without a ton of sugar. Here are some of the top nutrients that make up parsley’s profile.

  • Water – 87.8 grams
  • Protein – 2.97 grams
  • Total fat – 0.79 grams
  • Ash – 2.2 grams
  • Carbohydrate, by difference – 6.33 grams
  • Fiber – 3.3 grams
  • Total sugars – 0.85 grams
  • Calcium – 138 milligrams
  • Iron – 6.2 milligrams
  • Magnesium – 50 milligrams
  • Phosphorus – 58 milligrams
  • Potassium – 554 milligrams
  • Sodium – 56 milligrams
  • Zinc – 1.07 milligrams
  • Copper – 0.149 milligrams
  • Manganese – 0.16 milligrams
  • Selenium – 0.1 µg
  • Vitamins A, C, K

Parsley Health Benefits

Parsley has garnered a healthy reputation for being among the top disease-fighting herbs, recognized by the CDC as a powerhouse plant for its high nutrient density and ability to help ward off chronic illnesses. Here are some of the top health benefits of parsley.

Major Source of Calcium

“Move over collard greens and broccoli stems: One cup of parsley contains 83 mg of calcium,” says Laura Cipullo, RD, registered dietitian and founder of Laura Cipullo Whole Nutrition and Yoga. Experts recommend adults consume 1,000 to 1,200 milligrams of calcium per day to keep bones strong, muscles fresh, and their heart healthy (more on calcium benefits here).

Additional vital minerals found in parsley include potassium, magnesium, folate, and iron, which is an essential element when it comes to blood production.

Contains Vitamins A, C, K, and More

That same cup of parsley packs an estimated 80 mg of vitamin C (known for helping to boost immunity) along with vitamins A (which promotes healthy vision and development) and K (regarded for its bone-forming, anticancer properties).

Harnesses the Power of Antioxidants

“You can also benefit from important antioxidants [found in parsley], such as lutein and zeaxanthin,” says Cipullo, which can help defend against free radicals and reduce eye-related illnesses.

Supports the Gastric System

“Parsley decreases gastric inflammation by supporting the cellular antioxidant enzyme system,” says Cipullo. “Another outstanding benefit of consuming parsley regularly is its association with decreasing stress-induced injury to your gastric system. This means parsley directly acts against the reactive oxygen species that cause damage to your stomach and gastrointestinal tract, especially in individuals with gastric ulcers and ulcerative colitis.”

Helps With Diabetes

In one study, diabetic rats who were treated with parsley demonstrated significantly lower levels of blood glucose, alkaline phosphatase, and alanine transaminase, suggesting that parsley may have significant hepatoprotective effects (a liver damage protective property).

Reduces Risk of Cancer

Cipullo notes that parsley, being an umbellifer herb (along with celery and coriander), has shown positive associations with decreased cancer cell activity. “While it adds flavor to our green juices, Italian sauces, and Mediterranean salads, the flavone apigen that’s abundant in parsley inhibits cancer cell migration and invasion and stimulates a protective immune response,” Cipullo explains. “Including apigen with other anti-cancer drugs may play a role in cancer treatment in the near future.”

Aids Digestion

Parsley is a great source of fiber, which supports digestive health. Just half a cup of parsley contains about 1.23 grams of dietary fiber. Fiber promotes regular bowel movements, helps prevent constipation, and can reduce bloating. This is because fiber can affect the rate at which you digest food, how well your body absorbs nutrients, and how regularly waste moves through your colon.

Contains Detoxifying Compounds

Parsley contains a compound that has detoxifying effects: chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is the pigment that makes green plants green. It enables them to turn sunlight into nutrients through the process of photosynthesis. It also boasts detoxification benefits for humans, however. Chlorophyll can bind to and remove any endocrine-disrupting chemicals in the body, supporting the liver (which plays a pivotal part in metabolizing and eliminating these chemicals).

Possible Pitfalls of Parsley

While parsley is packed with health benefits, it’s not necessarily safe for everyone. Some people with oral allergy syndrome may be allergic to parsley. Likewise, parsley in large amounts of medicinal doses (such as in herbal teas or supplements that contain parsley) is not recommended for pregnant people. Parsley in large amounts of medicinal teas and supplements has been shown to cause complications and increase the risk of miscarriage due to two compounds: myristicin and apiole.

Parsley also contains oxalates, which are naturally occurring compounds that can contribute to kidney stones. For those who have a history of kidney stones or who are susceptible to developing kidney stones, it may be necessary to moderate parsley intake (as well as other high-oxalate foods).

Delicious Ways to Enjoy Parsley

Ready to start reaping the benefits of parsley? Add a refreshing dash to your favorite omelets, vegetables, pastas, and fruit salads, or take your cooking to the next level with these delicious recipes that celebrate parsley.

Garlic and Parsley Shoestring Fries

Victor Protasio

Looking for a simple way to upgrade fries, and make it easy on yourself if hosting a party? Or just looking for quick side dish? With just a bit of time in the oven, you can make fries at home without needing to fry them. Better yet—you can dress them up with parsley and garlic for a boost of flavor.

Torn Pita and Eggplant Salad With Parsley and Green Tahini

Jennifer Causey

A pop of green cuts through lemon eggplant and nutty tahini in this deconstructed baba ghanoush. It has just a few key ingredients: broiled eggplant, lemon juice, olive oil, and parsley. Plus, you’ll want to pair it with golden and crispy pieces of pita.

Fried Herb Salsa

Victor Protasio

This flavor-packed dressing is ready to be an all-star player in your kitchen. Frying the oregano and rosemary draws out toasted notes while the sharp, fresh parsley highlights vegetal tones. You can use this salsa for dressed roasted veggies, dipping bread, or even coating chicken or steak; you decide.

Summer Squash With Scallions, Chile, and Parsley

Greg DuPree

Say hello to summer in a bowl. This bowl is as refreshing as it is filling. A leafy salad of delicately sliced green and yellow zucchini gets crunch from chopped almond dressing and sliced green onion. Parsley gives it that extra something.

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