Parsley: Don't Leave It on Your Plate

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Ah, parsley. Its lovely green leaves dress up a plate but often return to the kitchen sink soggy. Too bad! A nutritional powerhouse used medicinally since ancient times, parsley is an herb you should get to know better.

Here’s why you should actually eat that parsley:

• Parsley is a rich source of vitamin K, which helps blood to clot, and a good source of vitamins C, A, and folate.
• Parsley contains many antibiotic, antioxidant, and other health-promoting phytocompounds that may help to prevent some cancers, osteoporosis, and diabetes.
• Parsley is especially rich in some phytonutrients that offer promise for cancer prevention.
• A sprig of parsley will freshen your breath after a garlic-laden meal.
• Chopped fresh parsley applied to a new bruise may help ease pain and reduce inflammation. Freeze some in ice cubes to rub on bruises.

Although its seeds take a long time to germinate (and many don’t germinate at all), parsley is easy to grow in the garden or a pot set on a sunny windowsill. Once successfully established outside, it readily self-sows, although you’ll need to let it go to seed the second year (it’s a biennial). Start a new planting so you’ll have a few plants and others on their way to making seed.

Finely minced parsley adds flavor to any salad, egg dish, soup, or stuffing. It’s a staple ingredient of the Lebanese salad tabbouleh. 

A Few Exceptions:
• Because parsley is such a rich source of vitamin K, people who take blood-thinning medications should go easy on this herb.
• Health professionals tell pregnant women to avoid large servings of the herb, which may cause uterine contractions. The same advice holds for breastfeeding moms, as large helpings of parsley may decrease milk production.
• Parsley is high in oxalic acid. A few rare medical conditions require strictly limiting dietary intake of oxalate compounds. Consult your health-care professional for more information.

About The Author

Margaret Boyles

Margaret Boyles is a longtime contributor to The Old Farmer’s Almanac. She wrote for UNH Cooperative Extension, managed NH Outside, and contributes to various media covering environmental and human health issues. Read More from Margaret Boyles

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