Break down and Background
The Origin of Parsley
Parsley (Petroselinum Crispum) is one of the healthiest herbs on the planet. Parsley can be used as a table garnish, lettuce substitute for a salad, as a garnish, or a cooking ingredient used to add flavor to your dishes.
The parsley cooking herb is rich in nutrients, vitamins, and health benefits while having very minor side effects.
The parsley plant is also known as “garden parsley” or in some countries as “rock celery”. It’s a nutritious superfood that’s regarded as one of the healthiest herbs you can eat on a regular basis.
Throughout history, many health benefits have been discovered through the daily use of parsley in multiple different diets and regimes. Some of the health benefits of parsley help treat:
- Menstrual disorders
- Cancerous tumors
- Head lice
- Skin parasites
- Insect bites and infections
- Prostate issues
- Liver dyscrasias
- Spleen issues
Centuries ago people found this vitamin herb helpful in treating anemia, edema, arthritis, and cancer. This herb was effective in treating high blood pressure, chest and throat congestion, and as a laxative
Many scientific studies and healthcare professionals suggest that parsley should be a staple in every healthy diet and lifestyle since it’s easily incorporated into salads, sandwiches, soups, as well as other recipes.
Parsley is a nutritionally dense herb that has an interesting Greek origin. It also has many variations such as:
- Flat-leaf parsley
- Curly leaf parsley
- Parsnip rooted parsley
- Italian parsley
All flowers, leaves, plants, and herbs have scientific (botanical) names used for classification, GMO, and scientific purposes. The botanical name for parsley is Petroselinum Crispum.
Parsley has many health benefits and side effects, some of which originate from its rich source of vitamins A and C, while having minor side effects if taken in moderation.
Multiple research studies have proven that the nutrition facts, essential vitamins, and health benefits of parsley make it one of the healthiest ingredients on earth. This is due to its availability, low price, and nutritional value.
Parsley herbs are native to multiple different countries in the Central Mediterranean region such as Italy, Spain, Morocco, Algeria, Greece, Portugal, Malta, and Tunisia.
Statistically, North America is the lowest consumer of parsley by gram/person per year. Similarly to mint, North America is ranked the 4rth largest importer of parsley and mint herbs out of all 6 continents.
Parsley is most used and consumed in the Mediterranean regions, Southern Europe and Western Asia. Commonly used to season meats and proteins such as:
Mixed with other herbs such as:
And in recipes using:
- Soups and stews
- Salads, Sauces, or savory dressings
- Vegetarian and vegan dishes
- Olive oil, peanut oil, sesame oil, sunflower oil, or Vegetable oil
- Salsa and other dips
- Beans and legumes
- Vegetables like: Potatoes, Sweet potatoes, Carrots, Mushrooms, Artichokes, Asparagus, Corn, Cucumber, Eggplant, Green beans, Garlic, Leeks, Peas, Radishes, Onions, Tomatoes, Spinach, and Zucchini.
Traditional European dishes made their way to Western countries including Canada, the United States, and Mexico.
Mexico has become the world’s largest exporter of parlsey due to its dominance in cultural Mexican recipes, while the United States is the second largest importer of parsley.
Cultivation of Parsley
The cultivation of parsley is mostly spread throughout Europe as farmers began raising and cultivating parsley plants as a source of vitamins, nutrients, and healthy oils that would be used in their traditional cooking recipes.
A wide variety of parsley plants grow and thrive on mountains and hills stemming from a different subspecies called umbellifers, which are a part of the carrot family (Apiaceae).
These plants are very resistant to weather changes and also able to grow in tropical regions. This variation has more essential vitamins and nutrition as it requires a lot more moisture and sunlight to fully germinate and grow.
Beware of Wild Poisonous Parsley
It’s recommended to buy parsley from whole foods stores, grocery stores, or an accredited online grocery store. You can even grow parsley in an indoor or outdoor garden at home.
However, if you’re gathering wild parsley, a lot of precautious measures needs to be taken before eating any as poisonous parsley looks very similar to regular parsley.
There are 3 other toxic, poisonous plants that are similar in shape and size. Unless you’re experienced in gathering wild herbs and can identify the following three toxic plants, you should avoid any wild parsley.
We are not going to describe each of these toxic plants that could cause death. We highly recommend that you do not gather the wild parsley period. Buy your parsley in safe marketplaces such as whole food stores, health food establishments, or herbal Internet sites.
The 9 poison hemlock (Conium maculatum) plants are:
- Aethusa Cynapium (ie dog poison, fool’s parsley, or small hemlock)
- Conium Maculatum (ie Cicuta maculata, water hemlock, or poison parsley)
- Poison Hemlock (Conium maculatum)
- Deadly Nightshade (Atropa belladonna)
- White Snakeroot (Ageratina altissima)
- Castor Bean (Ricinus communis)
- Rosary Pea (Abrus precatorius)
- Oleander (Nerium oleander)
- Tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum)
Mild and severe symptoms of consuming, inhaling, touching these toxic plants include:
- Weak Pulse
- Dilated Pupils
Research and Studies
It has only been in the last 300 years that the scientific studies and clinical trials have verified the nutritional value of parsley, much longer after it’s discovery.
First known to be cultivated in Hamburg, Germany to provide healthy food and nutrients during periods of drought, poor weather, war, and famines.
In more recent years, the root and stems of the parsley plant are increasingly becoming more popular because of their excellent content of vitamins such as vitamin C, B6, A, iron, beta-carotene, and varying fatty acids that offer many health benefits.
It’s easy to add plant roots to your diet, you can:
- Make it into a paste using a food processor
- Add it to vegetable peels and skins to make a vegetable broth
- When cooking in a pan or in the oven, add parsley stems and roots around the pan to heat up and extract its essential oils
Fresh parsley roots are eaten in salads, soups, sauces, and stews, adding a lot of nutritious vitamins and minerals adding to the list of health benefits.
Greek History of Parsley
Ironically, parsley originally had a dark history for centuries, it was abolished from being included in foods or on household tables in Greece due to it being considered a symbol of death and oblivion that was often used in funerals.
Here is the history behind that belief. There was a figure called Archemorus, which according to Greek legend was a fallen hero because it’s said that he was eaten by serpents and left his spilled blood on the floor.
After Archemorus died and his blood was spilled, a parsley plant started to spring up from his spilled blood. The Greeks thus held this plant as a sacred herb, never to be eaten.
Then, the Greeks associated parsley to be a symbol of death. The Greeks used parsley as a funeral herb for centuries, but never cooking with it until the 15th to 16th century.
A good parsley plant is known for its long and thin stems, having 0 mg of fat and full of nutrients. The leaves are triangular in shape and the edges of its leaves resemble teeth.
The parsley herb is normally bright green in color. There are usually 2 common varieties that are used for cooking, which are known as Italian, curly parsley or flat-leafed parsley.
Fresh flat-leafed parsley is known to be more pungent in smell in taste, adding a sweet flavor profile in addition to all of its nutrients, vitamins, and health benefits.
Professional chefs have found that fresh parsley roots and stems help to lighten the flavor profile when used for cooking.
You can cook parsley roots as you would carrots or turnips by either steaming, boiling, pan-frying, or in the oven since they’re very tough to break up or chew on when they’re raw.
All in all, parsley is a healthy superfood that’s packed full of antioxidants, fats and oils, as well as essential vitamins and minerals.
Due to flat leaf parsley being sweeter in smell and taste, it’s in demand everywhere, all year round.
Here’s a list of all of the different forms of parsley:
- Italian parsley
- Curled leaf
- Flat-leaf parsley
- Chinese parsley or Cilantro or Corriander
Are all used in professional as well as casual recipes, classic Italian dishes, and worldwide cuisines with no severe medical side effects reported.
Nutrition Facts of Parsley
Tropical parsley is healthy, strong, and full of nutritional benefits. The abundance of water, sun, humidity, and rich soil found in tropical regions passes vitamins and nutrients into the plant, increasing the potential health benefits while having no medically reported side effects.
When parsley is used for cooking, every part of the plant can be used. The root of the parsley plant has a lot of stored nutrition, vitamins, and fiber containing a substantial amount of the health benefits of parsley.
Even when used for high-heat cooking, it won’t lose its valuable nutrients since vitamins A, D, E, K are fat soluble.
According to the United States (U.S.) Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Nutrient Database, here are the levels of vitamins and minerals found in parsley:
- There are 133 milligrams (mg) of vitamin C per 100 mg, which is 148% of your Recommended Daily Allowance RDA.
- 8,424 international units (IU) of vitamin A per 100 mg, which is 168% of your RDA.
- 6.2 mg of Iron, which is 34% of your RDA.
- 1,640 micrograms (mcg) of vitamin K, which is 1367% of your RDA.
There is no other herb that’s considered to be superior with such a potent nutritional profile. The USDA Nutrient Database states that it contains vitamins and minerals such as:
- Vitamin C
- Folic acid
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)
- Vitamin K
- Vitamin E
- Calories (energy)
- Fiber (carbohydrates)
- Medium-chain fatty acids
Vitamins A, D, E and Beta-carotene are universally measured in micrograms.
According to the USDA nutrition facts, parsley also contains flavonoids and antioxidants such as:
One of the most prevalent health benefits of parsley is that it’s proven to attack cancer cells and harmful free radicals that cause oxidative damage to your body.
Free radicals can cause heart disease, cardiovascular disease, chronic kidney disease, as well as autoimmune and inflammatory disorders.
Parsley Health Benefits
Parsley is a good tasting herb that has a list of at least 15 health benefits and side effects that offers an outstanding nutritional profile if consumed in moderation.
Used worldwide and cultivated during many centuries, parsley has been a staple in many regions and traditional foods around the world.
Due to recent studies displaying that parsley’s health benefits and side effects are very well balanced, it has now recently gained more popularity among the health and fitness industries.
A list of other healthy herbs and spices include:
All of these herbs and spices are very healthy and have all been proven to have an effect on weight loss and increased heart health, if possible you should try to include as many of these as you can.
Basil, sage, black pepper, and spinach go well with savoury foods and recipes while mint and cinnamon go well with sweeter foods such as cakes, protein bars, whey protein shakes, as well as other desserts and sweets.
Get little attention, but can have the biggest impact on your health, mood, physical performance, weight loss, and energy levels when taken in moderation.
The parsley plant is loaded with over 20 essential vitamins and nutrients, some of which include folic acids and medium-chained fatty acids which are important for heart health and strengthening your immune system.
1. Boosts Immune System Health
The vast amount of different vitamins and minerals found in parsley help increase your immunity against infections, bacteria, and viruses.
This raises the production count of white blood cells, which are the main component of the immune system that helps fight infections and reduces inflammation.
Parsley has potent anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties that can also be achieved through supplementation, which stems from its essential oils.
Its essential oils act as an immunomodulator, which helps suppress multiple autoimmune responses. Parsley can help suppress or minimize the following chronic diseases:
- Allergies and allergic reactions
- Chronic inflammatory disorders
- The systemic lupus erythematosus (lupus)
- Cellular and humoral responses
- Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
2. Parsley Helps Fight Cancer
Parsley is a powerful herb that has been proven to help prevent and fight multiple types of cancers due to its potent essential oils, antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties. You only need 2 to 3 sprigs of parsley per week to get all of its benefits.
Helping fight off cancers that stem from:
- Digestive tract
Advocated by health professionals and specialists, it’s universally agreed to that the powerful nutritional profile and health benefits of parsley that can help relieve many early symptoms of cancer.
Over 650 medical journals have proven parsley’s role in cancer prevention. Apigenin, a flavone pigment that showed the ability to stop tumor growth and slow the growth rate of cancerous cells.
Apigenin research has also found that:
In a 2008 clinical trial: Apigenin taken through green tea succeeded in reducing the rate of cancer cell growth in patients suffering from colon cancer.
- In a 2012 study at the University of Missouri: Apigenin injected in mice with cancerous tumors had their rate of breast cancer cell growth reduced and the size of the tumors had shrunk.
- A 2013 vitro (test-tube) study: On the effect of apigenin on the proliferation and apoptosis of human lung cancer cells, found that in less than 1 week it was able to kill over 80% of lung cancer cells.
Additionally, chemotherapy and radiation treatments destroy your immune system, decreasing your overall health and strength levels.
Parsley can be a very powerful tool for patients going through chemo as it’s a potent immunity booster. Apigenin is found in fruits, grains, vegetables, and non-herbal teas.
Other foods that contain Apigenin flavonoids are: onions, oranges, grapefruits, celery, basil, cilantro, thyme, oregano, wheat, and non-herbal teas such as black tea, green tea, oolong tea, chamomile tea, white tea, and earl grey tea.
We don’t recommend consuming an excess amount of wheat in a diet that’s intended for cancer patients as studies have proven that carbohydrates can cause increased immune damage. Always consult a medical professional before making changes to your diet.
3. A Natural Diuretic
One of the major health benefits of parsley is its ability to be a natural and effective diuretic. This relieves bloating and water retention, also called Edema, while also releasing stored toxins and waste.
If you’re prescribed synthetic diuretics such as:
- Bumetanide (Bumex)
- Furosemide (Lasix)
- Torsemide (Demadex)
- Ethacrynic acid (Edecrin)
Alternatively, you can take 2 teaspoons of parsley juice or supplements for accelerated relief of edema symptoms. This natural alternative replaces all of the lost nutrition and potassium caused by diuretic medications.
Parsley juice restores electrolytes, minerals, and many vitamins improving your overall health without causing any side effects if taken in moderation (1 to 2 teaspoons per day).
4. Helps With Weight Loss
Because parsley’s so low in calories, high in vitamins, minerals, nutrition, and contains zero fat, it’s effective for boosting your metabolism. This is especially helpful if you have a slower metabolism and are finding it difficult to lose excess weight.
Adding parsley to your daily diet helps you lose weight quicker and increases your health overall, allowing your body to perform optimally.
By providing your body with high levels of multiple essential vitamins such as vitamin A, C, E, K, B6, Iron, as well as flushes out retained waste, toxins, and water counteracting edema.
As you age your metabolism naturally starts to slow down, making fat loss more difficult. Parsley’s health benefit of flushing out excess fluid from your body allows for fast weight loss results.
Additionally, it’s excellent for cleansing the kidneys and liver, provides vital omega-6 fatty acids, and only contains 5.4 calories per tablespoon (15 grams) of fresh parsley.
5. A Natural Anti-Inflammatory
Parsley’s most potent flavonoid is apigenin, in addition to its anti-cancerous function it also has potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
Additionally, oxidative stress is one of the primary causes of ageing, inflammation, oxidation, gastric injury, cell DNA damage, and age-related development of cancer.
Parsley (Petroselinum crispum) contains many antioxidants such as flavonoids, carotenoids, and ascorbic acid that all help counter these harmful effects caused by oxidative stress.
In a study involving rats placed under severe stress, the controlled group that had parsley fed orally had significantly lower levels of stress-induced gastric injury and supported the health of the antioxidant defense system in the gut.
Mediterranean regions have used parsley’s excellent nutrition and vitamin content for years to ease and relieve:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Inflammatory polyarthritis
- Rough and dry skin
- Insect bites
- Internal inflammation
- Liver cleansing
- Replacing lost vitamins and minerals after recovering from sickness
6. Relieves Symptoms of Diabetes
Many studies have proven that the flavonoids, flavones, flavanols found in parsley, such as myricetin, are shown to lower blood sugar levels.
The list of flavonoids (or flavones) found in parsley:
The list of flavanols found in parsley:
For instance, Myricetin decreases insulin resistance and helps decrease total blood sugar levels. For centuries, the country of Turkey used parsley to treat diabetes in local clinics and hospitals.
If you suffer from digestive complications, parsley has excellent nutrients, enzymes, fiber, omega-6 fatty acids, and essential vitamins to help stimulate digestion.
All of which improves digestion, helps keep a healthier colon, and allows for better nutrient absorption by the colon. Studies using parsley also have shown to improve the digestion of proteins, vitamins, and fats. Additionally, this help cleanse the gastrointestinal tract and the entire digestive system.
7. Used for Skin Care
There are many vitamins that influence the health of your skin, from increasing overall skin health, to reducing clogged pores. The following vitamins and minerals that can benefit your skin health are:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin A
Parsley’s essential oils also helps to reduce the appearance of blemishes and scars, balances oil in the skin, and prevent different types of acne. One of the most common uses for parsley in skincare products is for face masks, to help balance oil production as well as soothes and softens the skin.
Here’s a homemade recipe for making an all-natural parsley face mask, you will need:
- 1 Tablespoon of honey
- 2 Teaspoons of organic apple cider vinegar
- 1 Sprig of parsley
- 3 Tablespoons of plain yogurt
Mix all of the above in a blender and apply it to your face, for best results leave the mask on your face for 10 to 15 minutes.
The parsley plant is perfect for detoxifying your organs from toxins and heavy metals due to its abundance of essential vitamins, nutrients, antioxidants, and flavonoids.
Adding parsley root tea or parsley extract to your diet can substantially increase your health in a short period.
8. Prevents many forms of Arthritis
Parsley juice is an excellent source of Vitamin C and beta-carotene, both of which having anti-inflammatory properties. This counteracts the pain and swelling caused by arthritis.
Raw parsley may help prevent multiple forms of arthritis such as:
- Inflammatory Polyarthritis
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
The essential oil eugenol has potent anti-inflammatory and anti-arthritic properties, as well as reducing erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) and C-reactive protein (CRP) which can significantly help suppress swelling in and around the tender and swollen joints.
This herb is best at managing symptoms of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, substantially reducing the pain caused by both diseases.
The parsley plant also removes large amounts of uric acid associated with the defective metabolism of uric acid in the blood, causing arthritis, this disease is known as gout and primarily affects smaller bones in the body.
9. Improves Intestinal Health and Digestion
For centuries, parsley herbs have been used by Europen and Asian ancestors. They’ve discovered that this herb eased colic pain, intestinal gas, and urinary pains which were then proven in multiple clinical studies.
Parsley can stimulate muscle contractions in the intestines, bladder, and uterus due to several pro-digestive enzymes. This also makes it so that parsley helps flush excess fluid stored in the body which also treats kidney issues, all while counteracting the vitamin depletion.
The list of pro-digestive enzymes found in parsley are:
- Phenylalanine ammonia-lyase
- Coenzyme A ligase
- Xanthine oxidase (XO)
- Cyclo-oxygenase (COX)
- Phosphoinositide 3-kinase
Additionally, a study conducted using male albino rats found that the test group that consumed the highest dose of parsley extract had the highest level of calcium oxalate flushed out through their urine.
Parsley Side Effects and Detriments
If you decide to add parsley herbs to your daily diet, be aware that the average adult should consume up to 50 gms of parsley per day.
More than 100 gms per day can start to cause serious complications. All foods, even superfoods as well as any other must be taken in moderation.
Although parsley has many health benefits, it’s side effects shouldn’t be ignored as they may cause serious harm to pregnant women and people suffering from existing conditions.
Always consult a health care professional if you have any history with cardiovascular issues or are taking multiple medications, as the large amount of Vitamin K in parsley can conflict with:
- Diuretic drugs (also known as water pills)
- Blood thinners such as warfarin (coumadin).
Be careful when taking or using essential parsley oils, as incorrectly using it can be harmful and toxic as it’s very concentrated. Contact your local poison center if any severe side effects occur.
If you take concentrated parsley oils you may experience some mild side effects such as:
- Loss of balance or Disorientation
- Giddiness or Dizziness
- Renal damage (Kidney failure)
- Photodermatitis reactions (also known as Sun poisoning or Photoallergy)
- Convulsions or Muscle spasms
1. Parsley May Harm Women During Pregnancy
There are no known toxicity issues when taking parsley moderately during pregnancy.
However, if you are pregnant you should avoid taking over 35 grams of parsley per day since this herb contains emmenagogues, which stimulates menstrual flow and can cause abortive effects if taken in high doses.
Emmenagogues are taken to stimulate menstrual flow when menstruation is otherwise absent due to hormonal shifts, disorders, conditions such as oligomenorrhea, or by medication and contraceptives.
Because parsley favors menstruation since it can also cause uterine contractions, which is a major side effect to pregnant or expecting mothers.
Large amounts of celery leaves and parsley can have uterotonic effects (induces contractions), which is why it’s avoided during pregnancy. Ingesting more than 10 drops a day of essential oil may cause abortion in severe cases.
The phenylpropenes named myristicin and apiole, found in celery leaves and parsley have the properties to increase the production of estrogen, making it relevant in the treatment of menopause.
Parsley is also used as a galactofuge, which is to reduce the amount of milk produced by lactating mothers, as its compounds suppress breast milk production.
It’s best to limit your intake of parlsey leaves while pregnant or breastfeeding. Always consult your doctor and/or medical professional before making dietary changes, as well as taking any herbs or supplements as these changes may cause future health issues.
2. May Cause Anemia and Reduced Blood Cell Count
Tired blood, also known as Anemia is a condition in which affected people have a reduced health red blood cell count. Making it difficult to carry adequate oxygen to your cells and tissues, in some cases this makes you feel tired and weak.
In a study involving various animals fed ethanol extract from Petroselinium crispum (parsley) between 10 to 1000 mg/kg of body weight per day for several weeks.
The groups consuming on the higher end of that scale of ethanol extract found a reduced blood cell count of 3.2% and an increased white blood cell count of 14.2%. Which can worsen existing anemic symptoms and side effects as 3.2% of around 5500 ml of blood is substantial.
To counteract and prevent anemia, foods that are high in protein and iron can prevent red blood cell count (RBC count) deficiencies:
- Red meat, especially game meats like elk, pheasant, duck, bison, venison, and rabbit
- Poultry, especially turkey
- Seafood, especially shellfish
- Organ meats, the liver is a fantastic option
- Milk, eggs, cheese, and most dairy products
- Whole grains, including brown rice, quinoa, yeasts, whole-grain bread
- Dark chocolate or cocoa powder
- Dried fruits
- Nuts, including cashews and peanuts
- Beans, such as fava beans, lima beans, and lentils
- Dark green leafy green vegetables, including spinach, asparagus, and broccoli
- Iron-fortified and iron-rich foods, such as tofu, baked potatoes, pumpkin seeds, as well as certain whole-grain bread and cereals brands
3. Can Be Toxic to The Liver and Kidneys
The essential oils found in parsley are mildly hepatotoxic and nephrotoxic, which in excess can cause damage to both the liver and kidneys.
Excess vitamin k can cause serious side effects such as renal damage (kidney failure) and low blood pressure (hypotension) which also contributes to kidney damage, capillary atrophy (blood vessel damage), as well as kidney and liver dysfunction.
The primary focus for the nutrition, health benefits, and side effects of parsley stems from its essential oils, nutritional profile, macronutrients, as well as essential vitamins and minerals.
The vitamins and beneficial plant compounds in parsley may improve bone health, protect against chronic diseases, and provide antioxidant health benefits.
Here’s the full list of the health benefits of parsley:
- Boosts Immune System Health
- Parsley Helps Fight Cancer
- A Natural Diuretic
- Helps With Weight Loss
- A Natural Anti-Inflammatory
- Relieves Symptoms of Diabetes
- Used for Skin Care
- Prevents many forms of Arthritis
- Improves Intestinal Health and Digestion
Here’s the list of side effects of parsley:
- Parsley May Harm Women During Pregnancy
- May Cause Anemia and Reduced Blood Cell Count
- Can Be Toxic to The Liver and Kidneys
Parsley is a superfood and one of the healthiest cooking herbs that you can add to your daily diet, with ease by adding them to your salad, sauces, soups, pasta, proteins, and starchy vegetables.
It increases your overall health and wellness if taken in moderation, according to multiple studies we recommend 30 grams per day without exceeding 100 grams per day, as excess vitamin K intake can cause many serious side effects.