Using parsley in cooking is a great way to boost the taste and improve the look of a dish without adding extra sodium, or salt, to the meal. Parsley can also provide nutritional benefits to the bones and immune system.
This Medical News Today Knowledge Center feature is part of a collection of articles on the health benefits of popular foods. It gives a nutritional breakdown of parsley and a detailed look at its possible health benefits, how to include more into the diet, and any potential health risks of consuming parsley.
Contents of this article:
- Possible health benefits
- Nutritional breakdown
- How to incorporate more into the diet
- Possible health risks
- Parsley may help to protect against cancer, diabetes, and bone weakness.
- One cup of chopped parsley provides 1,230 percent of an individual's daily recommended vitamin K intake.
- Parsley can be blended into smoothies or added to meals as a garnish.
- Do not consume parsley while taking blood thinners. This is due to the blood-clotting effects of its high vitamin K content.
Possible health benefits
Parsley is great for flavoring meals without adding unhealthy amounts of salt or sugar.
The following possible health benefits have been linked to consuming parsley.
1) Preventing cancer
Flavonoids are naturally-occurring plant compounds that can counter disease-causing agents in the body.
Studies have shown that parsley and other green herbs and vegetables can block the cancer-causing effects of heterocyclic amines. These are chemical compounds that have cancer-causing qualities. They are generated when meat is grilled at high temperatures.
Those who prefer charred steak should pair it with green vegetables, such as parsley, to help reduce these potentially harmful effects.
Apigenin is a natural chemical found in parsley. In a 2015 review, it was shown to decrease tumor size in an aggressive form of breast cancer. Researchers believe that apigenin could be a promising non-toxic cancer treatment in the future.
2) Protecting against diabetes
The myricetin present in parsley has also been examined for use in the treatment and prevention of diabetes.
Laboratory and animal studies have demonstrated that myricetin can lower blood sugar levels and decrease insulin resistance. It also appears to provide anti-inflammatory effects and remove excess fat from the blood.
3) Improving bone health
Low vitamin K intake has been associated with a higher risk of bone fracture. Consuming an adequate amount of vitamin K may improve bone health by improving calcium absorption and reducing the excretion of calcium in the urine.
In a recent meta-analysis, subjects with the highest levels of vitamin K experienced 22 percent fewer fractures than those with low levels.
Ten sprigs of parsley are enough to reach the recommended daily intake of vitamin K.
Eating a range of fruits, vegetables, and herbs is linked to a reduced risk of health problems. A diet with higher quantities of natural foods and fewer manufactured foods is more likely to result in better overall health.
One chemical or vitamin is not likely to provide the same health benefits on its own or in supplement form. It provides more benefit to consume food in its original form.
According to the United States (U.S.) Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Nutrient Database, one cup of chopped parsley contains:
- 22 calories
- 1.78 grams (g) of protein
- 0.47 g of fat
- 3.8 g of carbohydrate
- 2 g of fiber
- 0.51 g of sugar
The same quantity of parsley provides 984 micrograms (mcg) of vitamin K, as well as 79.8 mcg of vitamin C, and 5,054 international units (IU) of vitamin A. One cup of parsley provides 1,230 percent of the recommended intake of vitamin K.
How to incorporate more into the diet
Parsley can be used as a garnish.
Fresh chopped parsley has a spicy, peppery flavor and pairs well with:
- tomato-based sauces
- poultry dishes
- grain-based salads
- egg dishes
Here are a few quick tips:
- Throw a few sprigs of parsley into your favorite green juice.
- Finish off an omelet, quiche, or frittata with a handful of chopped parsley.
- Add chopped parsley to any homemade salad dressing.
Try some of these healthy and delicious recipes developed by registered dietitians using parsley:
- Cauliflower crust pizza
- Moroccan fish over whole grain couscous
- Balsamic black-eyed pea salad
- Citrus shrimp salad with white beans and arugula
Potential health risks
It is important not to suddenly alter the amount of vitamin K in the diet while taking blood-thinners such as Coumadin, or warfarin. Vitamin K plays a key role in blood clotting.
The total diet is most important in disease prevention and achieving good health. Eating a varied diet as a pathway to healthful living is more vital than focusing on individual foods.