I was recently on the phone with a relative who was telling me about how they discovered a home remedy for water retention, swelling and inflammation, caused from arthritis, by boiling the leaves of parsley and drinking the tea it produced. This lead me to researching the health benefits of this common household herb.
I found that there was a great deal of information on parsley and its many healthful benefits and it got me to thinking, who hasn't used parsley to sprinkle or sprig over finished food? As a chef, I have found the use of parsley to be a very common one by chefs alike. It seems as though we may have been taking for granted this powerful green herb all this time. Here is a list of some of the benefits parsley has to offer;
Studies show that myristicin, an organic compound found in the essential oil of parsley, not only inhibits tumor formation (especially in the lungs), but also activates the enzyme glutathione-S-transferase, which helps the molecule glutathione attach to, and ﬁght against, oxidized molecules. Myristicin can also neutralize carcinogens like benzopyrene in cigarette smoke that can pass through the body, consequently ﬁghting against colon and prostate cancer.
Parsley is rich with an antioxidant arsenal that includes luteolin, a ﬂavonoid that searches out and eradicates free radicals in the body that cause oxidative stress in cells. Luteolin also promotes carbohydrate metabolism and serves the body as an anti-inﬂammatory agent. Furthermore, two tablespoons of parsley contain 16% of the RDA of vitamin C and over 12% of the RDA of vitamin A - two powerful antioxidants.
Along with luteolin, the vitamin C found in parsley serves as an effective anti-inﬂammatory agent within the body. When consumed regularly, they combat the onset of inflammatory disorders, such as osteoarthritis (the degeneration of joint cartilage and the underlying bone) and rheumatoid arthritis (a disease causing inﬂammation in the joints).
Healthy Immune System
The vitamin C and vitamin A found in parsley serve to strengthen the body's immune system, though in different ways. Vitamin C is necessary for collagen, the main structural protein found in connective tissue. This essential nutrient will not only accelerate the body's ability to repair wounds, but also maintain healthy bones and teeth. Vitamin A, on the other hand, fortiﬁes the entry points into the human body, such as mucous membranes, the lining of the eyes, and respiratory, urinary and intestinal tracts. Moreover, lymphocytes, or white blood cells, rely on vitamin A to ﬁght infection in the body.
A Healthy Heart Homocysteine, an amino acid that occurs in the body, threatens the body's blood vessels when its levels become too high. Luckily, the folate (or vitamin B9) found in parsley helps convert homocysteine into harmless molecules. A regular garnish of parsley can help ward off cardiovascular diseases, such as heart attack, stroke, and atherosclerosis.
Two tablespoons of parsley have a whopping 153% of the RDA of vitamin K, which is necessary for the synthesis of osteocalcin, a protein that strengthens the composition of our bones. Vitamin K also prevents calcium build-up in our tissue that can lead to atherosclerosis, cardiovascular disease and stroke.
Finally, the vitamin K found in parsley is essential for synthesizing sphingolipid, the fat needed to maintain the myelin sheath around our nerves, and therefore our nervous system as a whole.
It should also be noted that parsley does have some un-favourable side effects such as; It should not be given to pregnant women as it may result in muscle contractions of the uterus as well as uterine bleeding. Also, people who have undiagnosed or untreated kidney problems should not consume large quantities of parsley as it may result in bleeding. One should also not consume essential parsley oil in isolation as it is known to be toxic and may result in nosebleeds, bloody stools and kidney shutdown. Skin exposure to the oils of parsley may cause skin to become more sensitive to sunlight. If you have any concerns over the use of parsley, it is always best to consult with your medical adviser.
Simple ways to add fresh parsley to your healthy diet can include; adding the leaves to your soups, salads and smoothies or try brewing a 1/4 cup of loosely packed leaves to 8 -10 oz of boiling water. Simply strain the leaves and drink the tea. When trying new things it is always best to start in moderation to allow your body to adjust and adapt to the changes.
Best of wishes in health and wholeness!
Tanya is a whole foods chef and business owner of a whole foods catering service - Artisan Food Co. She is currently completing holistic nutrition and is an advocate for whole body living.