Parsley is the most popular spice in the world, to be found in almost every supermarket all year long (of course, the best from your own garden!).
It has a delicate and refreshing taste and beautiful leaves of bright green color, which makes it irreplaceable as a spice or decoration for eating.
We are so used to parsley that we often do not think about it, that this is not only a spice, but also a herb, which has high nutritional values and medicinal properties.
A sprig of parsley is more than a decoration on your plate.
Parsley contains two groups of special ingredients, which are very important for our health.
The first group of ingredients contains natural essential oils, which include myristicin, limonene, eugenol and alpha-thujene. The second group includes flavonides: apiin, apigenin, crisoeriol and luteolin.
In addition, parsley is a great source of vitamins C, A and K.
Essential oils containing parsley, especially myristicin, protect against cancer, especially lung cancer, which has been confirmed in studies.
Myristicin also activates the enzyme glutathione-S-transferase, which helps the glutathione molecule to bind to oxidized molecules that would otherwise cause damage to the body.
Due to the essential oils it contains, parsley has a chemo-protective effect, that is, it counteracts the action of chemicals that can be hazardous to our health, such as the carcinogen of benzopyrene (found in cigarette smoke) and others.
A rich source of antioxidants
Flavonides, which contain parsley, especially luteolin, act as antioxidants, binding to free radicals and thus preventing their harmful effects on the body.
Studies have shown that parsley extract increases the antioxidant capacity of blood.
In addition to flavonides, parsley is an excellent source of vitamins C and A (especially karetonoids and beta-carotene), which play an important role in protecting our body from many diseases.
Vitamin C has many different functions. It is a major antioxidant in our body, which counteracts the action of dangerous free radicals.
As we already know, high levels of free radicals are associated with a range of diseases, including cancer, diabetes, asthma, atherosclerosis, etc.
Vitamin C also has outstanding anti-inflammatory properties, making it excellent in treating all types of arthritis. In addition, vitamin C is important for our immunity to work.
Regular intake of this vitamin can prevent frequent flu, colds, sore throat and ear.
Beta-carotene is also an important antioxidant. Beta-carotene-rich diets reduce the risk of atherosclerosis, diabetes and bowel cancer.
Like vitamin C, beta-carotene has a beneficial effect on asthma, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. In our body, beta-carotene is converted to vitamin A, a nutrient that plays an important role in the workings of our immunity.
Parsley for heart health
Parsley is a good source of folic acid. Folic acid is essential for many processes that take place in our body, but it is most known for the role it plays in the health of the cardiovascular system.
Folic acid helps convert homocystein into a benign molecule. Homocystein is a potentially dangerous molecule, which can directly damage blood vessels.
High levels of homocystein increase the risk of stroke and heart attack in people with atherosclerosis or heart disease.
Therefore, people suffering from these diseases are advised to use folic acid-rich foods.
Protection against rheumatoid arthritis
Vitamin C-rich foods such as parsley provide protection against rheumatode arthritis.
More than 20,000 people participated in the study, published in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.
All participants were healthy and did not suffer from arthritis. One part of the participants followed a diet rich in Vitamin C, while the other part followed a regular diet.
The study lasted several years and confirmed that people who consumed vitamin C-rich foods had a three-fold reduced risk of arthritis.
Fresh parsley is better than dry. If you must buy dried parsley, choose one from organic farming.
Choose parsley with dark green leaves. Avoid branches that are yellowish or have faded – this is a sign that they are old or damaged.
You can store fresh parsley in the refrigerator, in a plastic bag. If the parsley is faded, spray with a little water before putting it in the refrigerator.
If you have excess parsley, you can easily dry it by chopping it and leaving it on a kitchen cloth. When dry, keep it in a well sealed glass bottle in a dark, cool, dry place.
You can also freeze the parsley. It will retain its flavor but will lose its crispness.
Parsley can be used in almost all dishes – soups, salads, vegetables and cereals.