I think parsley is one herb that doesn’t get its due. So often, especially when you visit a restaurant, it is sprinkled around the outside of the plate as an afterthought garnish. However, this mild herb can be so much more and parsley’s health benefits may surprise you!
Like basil and oregano (click the links to learn about their health benefits!), my mother used parsley to flavor her homemade gravy and meatballs. Yet, looking back, we never really used it for much more than this. Instead, it was usually part of a dried “Italian Seasoning” mix for a quick boost of flavor in a store-bought pasta sauce.
To be honest, in a mixed Italian Seasoning, parsley is going to be lost.
In fact, the only other dish we used it for in its fresh form was when we made a piccata sauce. This makes sense since parsley does bring a bright and lemony flavor to dishes.
As I have discovered though, flavor is only one of the incredible aspects of this versatile herb. Read on to find out why you need to incorporate parsley into you regular diet!
What Is Parsley, Where Does It Come From, And How Does It Grow?
According to Britannica.com, parsley is a Mediterranean herb from the Apinceae family of plants. It has been used for thousands of years by the Greek and Roman cultures as a flavor enhancer (no argument there!)
I was surprised to learn that parsley has two different growing seasons (making it what is known as biennial, another term I had not heard before!)
In the first season, you can expect it to grow roots, stems, and flavorful leaves while the second season sees the plant produce flowers and seeds (for the reproduction of more parsley plants).
Take a look at the website link provided to learn more about parsley’s background.
When it comes to varieties you can find in the supermarket, you will see both fresh and dry versions. Most likely, when on the hunt for fresh parsley, you will find two options: Italian Flat Leaf and Curly Leaf. For the purpose of this post, I’m going to look at the type most used for cooking, which is the Flat Leaf variety.
Curly Parsley is mostly used for garnish and, as noted by Masterclass, doesn’t provide much in the way of flavor to dishes.
Growing Your Own Parsley
I have not personally attempted to grow my own parsley at this point. You have read about my detailed growing accounts in my previous posts, and I was much too busy with those this past summer.
However, I am a huge fan of growing your own produce, as it is cost-effective and nowhere near as scary as it may have previously seemed.
Check out these great video resources to get you well on your way toward herbal independence:
How To Grow Parsley From Seed:
How To Grow Parsley In A Pot:
How To Harvest Parsley Seeds:
Nutritional Profile Of Parsley – Fresh And Dried
In my research on parsley, I was incredibly surprised at the amount of nutrition these little leaves contain. Just like basil and oregano, this herb is a true powerhouse in several key nutritional areas, as you will soon see.
The best thing about parsley is that it can be used in such a variety of ways. Basil and Oregano have very distinct and pungent flavors. On the other hand, though parsley is wonderfully flavorful, I find it to be a bit more on the mild side. It adds such a fresh note to any dish, which is why it is great to add to salads, sauces, dressings, and meats.
Its versatility means you can get more use out of it in order to reap the full benefits.
As always, we will be looking at the nutritional profiles of both the dried and fresh varieties of parsley in a 2,000 calorie diet. I used my normal tool from Self.com for the information, so take a moment to check that out for pretty much any type of ingredient you can think of!
Fresh Parsley (1 Cup)
- Calories: 21.6
- Total Fat: 0.5g (1%)
- Saturated Fat: 0.1g (0%)
- Trans Fat: 0g
- Cholesterol: 0mg (0% DV)
- Sodium 33.6mg (1% DV)
- Total Carbohydrates: 0.1g (0% DV)
- Dietary Fiber: 2.0g (8% DV)
- Total Sugar: 0.5g
- Protein: 1.8g
- Omega 3 Fatty Acids: 4.8mg
- Omega 6 Fatty Acids: 69.0mg
- Vitamin A: 5055 IU (101%)
- Vitamin C: 79.8mg (133%)
- Vitamin E: 0.4mg (2%)
- Vitamin K: 984 mcg (1,230%)
- Thiamine: 0.1mg (3%)
- Riboflavin: 0.1mg (3%)
- Niacin: 0.8mg (4%)
- Vitamin B6: 0.1mg (3%)
- Folate: 91.2mcg (23%)
- Pantothenic Acid: 0.2mg (2%)
- Choline 7.7mg
- Calcium 82.8mg (8%)
- Iron: 3.7mg (21%)
- Magnesium: 30mg (7%)
- Phosphorus: 34.8 (3%)
- Potassium: 332mg (9%)
- Zinc: 0.6mg (4%)
- Copper: 0.1mg (4%)
- Manganese: 0.1mg (5%)
Dried Parsley (1 Tablespoon)
- Calories: 4.1
- Total Fat: 0.1g (0%)
- Saturated Fat: 0g (0%)
- Trans Fat: 0g
- Cholesterol: 0mg (0% DV)
- Sodium 6.8mg (0% DV)
- Total Carbohydrates: 0.8g (0% DV)
- Dietary Fiber: 0.2g (0% DV)
- Total Sugar: 0.1g
- Protein: 0.3g
- Omega 6 Fatty Acids: 6.9mg
- Vitamin A: 153 IU (3%)
- Vitamin C: 1.8mg (133%)
- Vitamin E: 0.1mg (1%)
- Vitamin K: 20.4 mcg (25%)
- Niacin: 0.1mg (1%)
- Folate: 2.7mcg (1%)
- Choline 1.5mg
- Calcium 22mg (2%)
- Iron: 1.5mg (8%)
- Magnesium: 3.7mg (1%)
- Phosphorus: 5.3 (1%)
- Potassium: 57.1mg (2%)
- Manganese: 0.2mg (8%)
- Selenium 0.4mg (1%)
While both have some nice health benefits, I think the clear winner here is fresh parsley. Unlike other herbs that gain nuance to their flavor when dried, parsley loses a lot of flavor and nutritional value in that form.
When fresh though, it is hard to ignore the amazing benefits this little herb has. From the amount of fiber and essential vitamins like A, C, K and Folate to minerals like Calcium, Iron, and Potassium, parsley is a juggernaut!
If you are wondering what to make with your fresh parsley, check out this recipe for a wonderful Mediterranean salad called Tabbouleh:
Possible Health Benefits Of Parsley
Aside from the abundance of vitamins and minerals seen above, parsley can have a great effect on your overall health. According to Organic Facts and Healthline, parsley is a great source of antioxidants, has anti-inflammatory properties, is good for your eyes, and can help your immune system, thanks to its vitamins.
Its fiber content can also help aid your digestive system. One thing many people lack in their diets is enough fiber, so parsley can be a tasty way to fix that.
If you look at the calcium and Vitamin K content, you will also notice that parsley can have an incredibly positive effect the overall health of your bones. Mine and my wife’s family has a history of Osteoporosis, so if you are like me, that is a fact that commands special attention.
Check out the links above to see more of the amazing benefits of consuming parsley on a regular basis!
Nothing Falls Flat About This Leaf
I hope that over the course of this post, you have learned more about parsley’s health benefits and will consider making it more of a regular addition to your diet. It is so much more than a garnish to be thrown on at the last second for mere color.
It is a nutritional powerhouse with multiple beneficial properties that can better contribute to your overall health.
Now, it’s your turn! What are your thoughts about parsley? Was there certain information that surprised you? Do you think you would consider growing your own?
What is your favorite dish that makes use of parsley? Share your thoughts down in the comments below. If you have any questions, be sure to just ask and I will try to answer them as best I can.
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If you wish to read more from this series, check out the following articles!
- Oregano’s Health Benefits
- Basil’s Health Benefits
- Rosemary’s Health Benefits
- The Artichoke’s Health Benefits
That’s all for now! As always, God bless and happy herbing!