Nutritional Parsley: More Than Just a Garnish

Stop throwing away the garnish! You know, the pretty sprig of parsley you put on your dinner guests' plates to make them look refined. Well, those green leaves have amazing nutritional properties that rival the rest of your meal.

Parsley comes in two forms: curly leaf and flat leaf. The one most commonly found at local markets is curly leaf. Here are 5 reasons to include this tasty herb in your day:

1. Rich in Iron

When you compare 10 grams of parsley with 10 grams of spinach, parsley contains over 2 times the amount of iron, making it great add to any meal for adults and children with low blood iron levels. Introducing parsley into your diet could also help maintain your energy levels, as the iron in your blood transports oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. This is why people with an iron deficiency are prone to chronic fatigue.

2. Good for the heart
Parsley contains folic acid, a substance known to help lower homo-cysteine levels (markers for heart attacks and strokes) in the blood. The British Medical Journal reports that a small decrease in serum homo-cysteine (achieved by taking 0.8mg of folic acid each day), lowers the risk of myocardial infarction by 15 per cent and a stroke by 24 per cent.

3. Pumped with antioxidants
Antioxidants slow down the aging process of the body's cells, including the skin and on your face. Parsley contains flavonoids, compounds know for their antioxidant properties. The flavanoids found in parsley include: apiin, apigenin, crisoeriol and luteolin. They have been shown to lessen inflammations in the body and prevent cancer.

4. Helps say goodbye to unwanted water
This green plant is an effective diuretic and can stimulate your kidneys to flush out more waste. It acts by enhancing the body's sodium and water excretion, while increasing potassium re-absorption.

5. Stops itching
It's an old maid's tale, but many swear by it. Rub parsley directly on the bite to reduce the itch. If you want to find a natural solution to your scratching, it is worth a try.

Because of the powerful oils naturally present in parsley, it is not recommended for pregnant women.

Karla Heintz (BSc) is a nutrition educator and national author of 'Picky? Not Me, Mom! A parents' guide to children's nutrition.' She works with families and athletes to improve all over health and wellness.


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