Parsley nutrition facts
Wonderfully nutritious parsley is a popular culinary as well as medicinal herb, which is recognized as one of the functional food for its unique anti-oxidants and disease preventing properties. This biennial herb is native to the Mediterranean region; and belongs to the family of apiaceae of the genus; Petroselinum, and is known botanically as Petroselinum crispum.
The herb is a small plant with dark green leaves that resemble coriander leaves, in flat leaf variety, however, has a milder flavor than coriander. It is particularly widely used in Mediterranean, East European, and American cuisine.
There are as many as 30 varieties of parsley cultivated across Europe; but the most common are curly-leaf and the more pungent Italian or flat leaf-parsley. Flat-leaf has more flavor than curly-leaf parsley and hence, preferred for cooking.
Health benefits of Parsley
The herb contains no cholesterol; but is rich in anti-oxidants, vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber which helps control blood cholesterol levels, prevents constipation, protects body from free radicals mediated injury and from cancers.
Parsley contains many health benefiting essential volatile oils that include myristicin, limonene, eugenol, and alpha-thujene.
The essential oil, Eugenol, present in this herb has been in therapeutic use in dentistry as a local anesthetic and anti-septic agent for teeth and gum diseases. Eugenol has also been found to reduce blood sugar levels in diabetics, however, further detailed studies required to establish its role.
Parsley is rich in poly-phenolic flavonoid anti-oxidants including apiin, apigenin, crisoeriol, and luteolin; and has been rated as one of the plant source with highest anti-oxidant activities.
The herb is a good source of minerals like potassium, calcium, manganese, iron, and magnesium. Potassium in an important component of cell and body fluids that helps control heart rate and blood pressure by countering the effects of sodium. Iron is essential for heme production inside red blood cells. Manganese is used by the body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase.
It is also rich in many antioxidant vitamins including vitamin-A, beta-carotene, vitamin-C, vitamin-E, zea-xanthin, lutein, and cryptoxanthins. The herb is also an excellent source of vitamin-K and folates. Zea-xanthin helps prevent age related macular degeneration (ARMD) in the retina of the eye in the old age population through its anti-oxidant and ultra-violet light filtering functions.
Fresh herb leaves are also rich in many essential vitamins such as pantothenic acid (vitamin B-5), riboflavin (vitamin B-2), niacin (vitamin B-3), pyridoxine (vitamin B-6) and thiamin (vitamin B-1). These vitamins are essential during carbohydrates, fat and protein metabolism by acting as co-enzymes.
It is probably the richest of the entire herb source for vitamin K; provides 1640 mcg or 1366% of recommended daily intake. Vitamin K has been found to have potential role in bone health by promoting osteotrophic activity in the bones. It has also established role in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease patients by limiting neuronal damage in the brain.
Wonderful! Humble parsley has just 36 cal/100 g, but their phyto-nutrients profile is no less than any high calorie food source.
This unique herb provides: (% of RDA per 100 g):-
38% of folates,
220% of vitamin C,
281% of vitamin A,
1366% of vitamin K,
14% of calcium,
77.5% of iron and
5561 mcg of zeaxanthin.
5054 mcg of carotene-beta
(Note: RDA-Recommended daily allowance)
|Principle||Nutrient Value||Percentage of RDA|
|Total Fat||0.8 g||3%|
|Dietary Fiber||3.3 g||8.5%|
|Pantothenic acid||0.400 mg||8%|
|Vitamin A||8424 IU||281%|
|Vitamin C||133 mg||220%|
|Vitamin E||0.75 mg||5%|
|Vitamin K||1640 µg||1366%|
(Source: USDA National Nutrient data base)
Selection and storage
Fresh as well as dried parsley is available in the markets all around the year. Whenever possible, buy fresh leaves over the dried form of the herb since it is superior in flavor and rich in many vital vitamins and anti-oxidants like beta-carotene, vitamin C, and folates. The herb should feature vibrant green color leaves and firm stems. They should be free from mold, dark spots or yellowing.
Just like with other dried herbs, when purchasing dried parsley, try to buy one that has been organically grown since this will give you some assurance that it has not irradiated and free from pesticide residues.
Fresh parsley should be stored in the refrigerator kept in a zip pouch or wrapped in a slightly damp paper towel. Dried leaves can be keeping well for few months when stored in a tightly sealed glass container and placed in cool, dark and dry place.
- The leaves, stems and roots of this herb plant have antiseptic and carminative properties.
- Eugenol also has been found to reduce blood sugar levels in diabetics, however, further detailed studies required to establish its role.
- The extraction from the herb has been found to have diuretic effects.
Preparation and serving methods
Parsley should be washed thoroughly in the water in order to remove sand and dirt and to rid off any residual pesticides. Trim the roots, thick part of stems, and any bruised or old laves. In order to keep the fragrance and aromatic flavor intact, it is generally added at the end of the recipes.
Here are some serving tips:
- The herb is widely used as a garnish. Many dishes are served with fresh green chopped parsley sprinkled on top.
- It has been used in preparation of many popular dishes in Mediterranean and European cuisine since ancient times. Along with other herb and spicy items, it is being used as flavoring agent in the preparation of vegetable, chicken, fish and meat dishes.
- It is one of the common ingredients in famous Mediterranean green sauce, "salsa verde." This cold sauce includes parsley, capers, garlic, onion, anchovies, olive oil, and vinegar.
- Freshly chopped parsley is a great addition to green salad.
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