Parsley is a pantry staple. You might even have some growing in the garden! This Mediterranean herb is colorful, aromatic, and tasty. It’s more than just a garnish, though. Parsley is packed with health benefits, much like other plants.
Many people get mixed up between parsley and cilantro. The two are related, but they’re quite different. Parsley leaves are pointed and cilantro leaves are curved. The flavor of parsley is mild and grassy, while cilantro is much stronger. If you’re not a fan of cilantro, try parsley. The milder flavor might be more your style.
Beyond taste, parsley’s also teeming with health benefits. Here’s what this attractive herb can offer.
Health Benefits Of Parsley
1. Lowers Cancer Risk
Fruits and veggies aren’t the only foods that can ward off cancer. Parsley may also help, according to the Journal of Science of Food and Agriculture. A 2015 study found that its anti-oxidative properties can fight oxidative stress and protect DNA. Most importantly, parsley stops cancer cell migration so they can’t spread throughout the body.1
2. Prevents Stress Ulcers
Stress doesn’t just impact your brain. On a cellular level, it promotes the creation of reactive oxygen species, a major factor of stress ulcers. That’s where parsley comes in.
Like most plants, this herb is rich in flavonoids. These compounds have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antiulcer properties. Parsley also increases the lining of the intestinal tract, offering even more protection against stress ulcers.2
3. Relieves Period Cramps
Dysmenorrhea, or painful menstrual periods, affects many women. It’s actually the most common reason behind school absences for teen girls.3 Painkillers, like ibuprofen or aspirin, are often used.
Parsley offers a more natural solution. For years, ancient Chinese medicine has used this herb to treat period pain.4
4. Reduces High Blood Pressure
One in every 3 American adults has high blood pressure. This condition raises the risk for heart disease, the leading cause of death in the country.5 Luckily, it’s possible to lower your chances with a heart-friendly diet.6 Instead of salt, use parsley to flavor dishes. It not only lowers high blood pressure, but protects against heart disease as well.7
5. Calms Joint Pain
In the United States, arthritis is the top cause of disability. It affects over 50 million adults or 1 in 5 people. The risk increases with age, and it can limit your ability to work.8 Eat anti-inflammatory foods like parsley.9 It’ll ease the joint inflammation of arthritis, making it easier to manage. For optimal joint health, pair with anti-inflammatory foods like fatty fish and leafy greens.
6. Prevents Kidney Stones
If you’re worried about kidney stones, spice up your diet with parsley. A 2012 animal study in Urology Journal found that it reduces calcium oxalate deposits in rats. This limits the risk of kidney stone formation, showing potential against the problem.10 If you already have kidney issues, talk to your doctor first. Eating more parsley might do more harm than good.
7. Decreases UTI Risk
A urinary tract infection, or UTI, is extremely painful. Women are more likely to get it than men. It develops when bacteria from the bowel reaches the bladder, but regular urination flushes it out.[ref]Symptoms & Causes. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.[/ref] Surprisingly, parsley can help out.
To start, it’s a diuretic. You’ll be able to pee more often! Parsley also has an antiseptic effect on the urinary tract, helping clear out bacteria before it builds up.11
Parsley Recipe Ideas
Salsa: Cilantro is usually the star of salsa. Why not add fresh parsley, too? The mix of flavors will make your taste buds sing.
Yogurt Sauce: For a healthy dipping sauce, mix herbs with plain yogurt. Eat with veggies or tortilla chips.
Smoothie: It might sound weird, but the combination of fruit and parsley is really refreshing. You can also add it to green smoothies for a nutritional boost.
Bread: If you like to make homemade bread, add parsley to the dough. This will instantly transform a plain loaf.
Pesto: Don’t just stick to basil. Add parsley and other herbs for more flavor.
Rice: Parsley will also upgrade a basic bowl of rice. Try it with wild, brown, or cauliflower rice.
If you’re new to parsley, don’t be afraid to experiment. Toss it into your favorite dishes. You never know what you’ll create.
|↑1||Tang, Esther Lai‐Har, Jayakumar Rajarajeswaran, ShinYee Fung, and M. S. Kanthimathi. “Petroselinum crispum has antioxidant properties, protects against DNA damage and inhibits proliferation and migration of cancer cells.” Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture 95, no. 13 (2015): 2763-2771.|
|↑2||Akıncı, Ayşin, Mukaddes Eşrefoğlu, Elif Taşlıdere, and Burhan Ateş. “Petroselinum Crispum is Effective in Reducing Stress-Induced Gastric Oxidative Damage.” Balkan medical journal 34, no. 1 (2017): 53.|
|↑3||French, Linda. “Dysmenorrhea.” American family physician 71, no. 2 (2005).|
|↑4, ↑7, ↑9, ↑11||Farzaei, Mohammad Hosein, Zahra Abbasabadi, Mohammad Reza Shams Ardekani, Roja Rahimi, and Fatemeh Farzaei. “Parsley: a review of ethnopharmacology, phytochemistry and biological activities.” Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine 33, no. 6 (2013): 815-826.|
|↑5||High Blood Pressure. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.|
|↑6||Heart Disease Facts. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.|
|↑8||Arthritis Facts. Arthritis Foundation.|
|↑10||Saeidi, Jafar, Hadi Bozorgi, Ahmad Zendehdel, and Jamshid Mehrzad. “Therapeutic effects of aqueous extracts of Petroselinum sativum on ethylene glycol-induced kidney calculi in rats.” Urology journal 9, no. 1 (2012): 361-366.|