What is so great about parsley anyway?

ParsleyBeyond a doubt, parsley should be added to your list of super foods and foods you should be eating to increase health and well being. You might already know some of Parsley’s health boasting benefits, or maybe not. Read on to find out more and for some tasty ideas of how to include this popular herb more regularly in your diet!

Oranges and other citrus fruits are often widely known as vitamin C rich foods. Did you know that a serving of parsley contains three times as much vitamin C as an orange? Twice as much iron as spinach? How about that parsley is rich in vitamin A and contains folate, potassium, and calcium? To top it all off, parsley is also recognized for its cancer-fighting potential!

In addition to being rich in nutrients, the wide array of antioxidants found in parsley provide for a variety of protective effects onCurly-Leaf-Parsley our health. Antioxidants found in parsley have demonstrated a protective effect against certain cancer causing substances found in tobacco smoke, arterial blood clotting, and dangerous free radicals. Certain cancer fighting agents found in parsley have also been shown to slow the development of some cancers, prevent other cancers, and to help reduce cholesterol.

The nutritional profile of parsley is one to not be reckoned with! The high level of vitamin C is good for our health for many reasons- it helps our immune systems stay healthy and strong, it helps protect against cardiovascular disease, it helps keep our eyes healthy, helps our bodies during pregnancy by lowering the risk of prenatal health problems, and even helps keep our skin elastic and minimizes wrinkles.

The high level of iron found in parsley is notable for a plant source of this essential mineral. While the daily requirement for iron may be easily met by those who consume animal products, it is harder for those who do not. Plus, vitamin C helps with the absorption of iron- which we all know parsley is an incredible source of! Why do we need iron? Primarily it functions as a carrier of oxygen- both as part of hemoglobin in the blood and of myoglobin in the muscles. We need this essential mineral to transport oxygen or our red blood cells can become anemic.

Vitamin A, folate, potassium, and calcium are all essential components to a healthy diet as well. Vitamin A helps us to form and maintain healthy teeth, bones, and soft tissue. It helps with vision, especially in low light, and is needed during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

Folate is essential to numerous functions in our bodies and plays an essential role in making and maintaining new cells. It is needed to make both DNA and RNA (the building blocks of cells) and is essential in preventing changes in DNA that may lead to cancer. It is especially needed during pregnancy and the early years of life to help prevent developmental and birth defects.

Potassium is an essential mineral important to maintain proper function of cells, tissues, and organs in our bodies. It plays a key role in skeletal and smooth muscle contraction, making it important for digestive and muscular function.

We all know that calcium keeps our bones and teeth strong. We also need calcium to keep muscles and nerves functioning properly and smoothly and to help blood clot.

Parsley is mild is flavor and can be added to a variety of dishes or eaten all on its own. My favorite way to add parsley in to my diet is to mix it in with my greens when I’m making a salad. Parsley can be added as a garnish to almost any dish and is a refreshing way to end a meal. You could try your hand at making tabbouleh or purchase an already prepared version- check out our archived recipes for an awesome spin on traditional tabbouleh. Do you make smoothies? Parsley is an excellent addition to give you that added nutritional punch- try blending a banana, a pear (cored), 1-2 sprigs of kale, water, and 2-3 sprigs of parsley.

These are just a few ideas, and some of my favorite ways of including parsley as a part of my regular and healthy diet. I’d love to hear other suggestions and fun ways you have started to include this super food as part of your daily living!

Kathryn Davis is a nutritionist, massage therapist, and yoga instructor in the Portland area

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