Parsley is among the most popular herbs in the world. Its name is derived from the Greek word which means ‘rock celery’. Parsley is biennial, bright green plant that grows in temperate climate or it may be annual herb found in tropical and subtropical areas. Two popular varieties of parsley are Italian flat leaf parsley and curly parsley, the previous one is more fragrant and less bitter in taste. Belonging to Umbelliferae family, parsley is identified by the scientific name Petroselinum crispum. Due to its delicious taste, parsley is widely used in a number of dishes, soups and salads for garnishing. Its wonderful healing properties make parsley one of the effective medicinal herbs.
Health Benefits of Parsley
Parsley is the powerful herb enriched with proteins, carbohydrates, fatty acids, vitamins like A, C, D, E, K, riboflavin, thiamin, niacin, vitamin B6, B12, folic acid, pantothenic acid, choline, betaine and minerals like iron, calcium, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, sodium, copper, zinc, fluoride and selenium.
- Flavonoids present in parsley, especially luteolin, acts as antioxidant, which combines with oxygen radicals and helps to prevent oxygen-based cell damage. Additionally, parsley is rich in two vital nutrients such as vitamin A and vitamin C. These nutrients play an important role in prevention of several diseases. Vitamin C is water-soluble anti-oxidant, which eliminates harmful free radicals present in water-soluble areas of the body. Foods rich in vitamin C help reduce the risk of various diseases like diabetes, atherosclerosis, asthma and colon cancer. Vitamin C is also anti-inflammatory agent, which reduces joint pain and inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.
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- Parsley contains another beneficial antioxidant called beta-carotene. It shows effect in the fat-soluble areas of the body. It minimizes the risk of development and progression of health conditions like diabetes, atherosclerosis and colon cancer. Beta-carotene is also helpful to lower the severity of rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and asthma.
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- Parsley is rich in folic acid, one of the important B vitamins. It plays a significant role in maintaining cardiovascular health. It contributes greatly in the process of conversion of homocysteine into benign molecules. High levels of homocysteine can cause damage to the blood vessels. Elevated homocysteine levels are associated with increased risk of heart attack and stroke in those with atherosclerosis or diabetic heart disease. Folic acid also contributes in proper cell division and prevents colon and cervical cancers.
- Rich content of essential vitamins makes parsley the best remedy to boost your immune system, strengthen the bones and improve nervous system.
- Parsley helps remove excessive fluids from the body and enhances kidney function.
- Regular consumption of parsley helps to control blood pressure. Due to presence of folic acid, parsley can be considered as the best tonic for heart.
- The herb is rich in vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber and negligible content of cholesterol. It prevents constipation, lowers blood cholesterol and protects the body from cancers and injuries caused by free radicals.
- Eugenol, essential oil parsley, can be used therapeutically as a local anesthetic and antiseptic agent for teeth and gum diseases. Eugenol is also found to lower blood sugar levels in diabetics.
- Parsley is the richest source of vitamin K. Vitamin K has a potential role in maintaining healthy bones by enhancing osteotrophic activity in bones. It also controls calcium build-up in the tissues, which is responsible for atherosclerosis, stroke and cardiovascular diseases. Vitamin K is also helpful to treat Alzheimer’s disease by controlling neuronal damage in the brain.
The use of parsley could be safe, when used short-term as a medicine. Some people may develop allergic skin reactions. Besides, consumption of large quantity of parsley can lead to anemia and kidney or liver problems. Application of parsley oil can increase sensitivity of skin to the sun, causing rashes. Use of larger amount of parsley for medicinal purpose could be unsafe for pregnant and breast-feeding women. Due to its capacity to hold on sodium salt, parsley can lead to fluid retention (edema) and may worsen high blood pressure and kidney diseases.
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