SUPER HERBS & SPICES - PARSLEYIt is one of the world's most commonly used herbs and garnishes, but that unassuming leafy green plant is packed full of incredible health benefits.
What are we talking about? Parsley.
A relative of celery, parsley is full of vitamins and compounds that can help our bodies with everything from osteoporosis and arthritis to fighting the common cold and ear infections -- even aiding our body's defense against certain types of cancer.
The two most effective components in parsley's make-up that give it so many health benefits are essential oils and flavanoids.
The essential oils in foods we consume are what give plants their distinct aromas. But far more than offering pleasant smells, essential oils have incredible health benefits. In the case of parsley, the essential oil components myristicin, limonene, eugenol, and alpha-thujene are what gives this herb its unique medicinal qualities.
- Eugenol has many applications due to its anti-microbial, anti-fungal, and anti-septic qualities. It has been used by dentists as a local anesthetic and to help fight gum disease.
- Myristicin has been studied extensively for its ability to icrease the activity of the detoxifying enzyme, glutathione - one of our bodies biggest defenses against free-radicals (which are responsible for damaging cells and increasing risk for degenerative diseases like cancer). A boost in the activity of glutathione is particularly beneficial to cancer patients, who are particularly susceptible to low levels of the enzyme.
Flavonoids are biologically active polyphenolic compounds widely distributed in plants and linked to a variety of chemoprotective effects (Nichenametla).
Parsley's is partially comprised of the flavonoids apiin, apigenin, crisoeriol, and luteolin.
- Apigenin helps boost the productivity of liver detoxifying enzymes (in tandem with myristicin), making parsley a potential cancer-preventive functional food. Studies have also discovered that apigenin's antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-tumor properties help block the formation of uric acid in the body, which can lead to gout or liver disease.
- Another study found that apigenin can enhances the effects of certain pharmaceuticals used to treat colon cancer.
- Luteolin is best known for its anti-oxidant properties and ability to help prevent oxygen-based cell damage caused by free radicals.\
Parsley is also rich in the beneficial vitamins K, C, and A.
- Vitamin C - In addition to being a great boost for the immune system, vitamin C helps our body against free radicals, which means it is a boost to our body's defense against diseases like cancer (parsley has been studied particularly for its effectiveness in the treatment of colon cancer), diabetes, even asthma. Vitamin C is also important in treating inflammation. It's anti-inflammatory properties make parsley particularly important for those at risk for, or dealing with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. powerful anti-inflammatory agent, which explains its usefulness in conditions such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
- Folic Acid (vitamin B) - Folic acid particularly important for cancer prevention because of its vital role in proper cell division. It has been most commonly used to aid in the prevention and treatment of cancers in the colon, and in women, the cervix. A potent source of folic acid, a B vitamin vital to cardiovascular health. Folic acid helps the body convert homocystein into benign molecules. In high levels, homocysteine molecules can damage blood vessels and increase your risk of heart disease or strokes.
- Folic acid is also an essential nutrient for expecting mothers. Taking the recommended 400mcg of folic acid a day (WebMD) both before and during pregnancy can help prevent birth defects effecting the baby's spinal cord and brain.
Parsley Health Benefits
There is a laundry list of health benefits of parsley. The essential oils, vitamins, and flavanoids extracted from the roots, stems, and seeds (rich in oils) have varying degrees of antimicrobial, antiseptic, digestive and diuretic, anti-rheumatic, astringent, anti-arthritic, carminative, laxative, hypotensive, uterine, and stimulant applications. This is why parsley has been used in Ayuervedic medicinal practices to help treat:
- Infections – Parsley oil's antimicrobial properties help our bodies fight infections, and bacterial & viral diseases.
- Rheumatism and arthritis – blood circulation and the accumulation of uric acid in the muscles and joints. Parsley helps detoxify your body of toxins and refreshes your blood. It also increases circulation, which relieves pain brought on by these ailments.
- Reducing Blood Pressure -- Parsley's diuretic and detoxifying properties believe it or not, are what help reduce blood pressure. Parsley helps your body get rid of toxins and boost the secretion of sodium and water through urine, and promotes potassium absorption in the kidneys. This function helps with blood circulation and is beneficial for cardiovascular health.
- Urinary Health - The detoxifying properties of parsley actually help increase the frequency of urination, which has huge benefits. Increased urination means your body is getting rid of toxins, and microbes which can be harmful on your kidneys and urinary tract. For this reason, parsley can be an effective way to prevent or urinary tract infections.
- Reduce Fever --A fever is your body's reaction to changes in the body brought on by illness or disease -- it is essentially your body's attempt to raise temperatures high enough to kill off the harmful bacteria. Parsley's depurative (blood purifying) and detoxifying properties help the body get rid of the toxins that causing your body to raise its temperature and blood pressure to fight off bacteria, so releasing them will help to bring down your fever. Additionally, parsley's antimicrobial are also doing their part to kill of the harmful microbes your body is fighting.
- Digestive Health – Parsley oil’s carminative properties can help relieve and treat a variety of digestive health issues including nausea, flatulence, indigestion, and stomach aches.
- Odors - We are talking both household and body odors. If you find yourself without deodorant, parsley can be mixed with apple cider vinegar or lemon juice to create a natural deodorant. All of these ingredients have natural antiseptic qualities that will help kill germs and the parsley will give you a fresh, spring scent.
*Consult your physician before making any changes in your diet for medical purposes.
Adding fresh parsley to any of your meals is a great way to benefit from its many vitamins and compounds, but here is one of our favorite recipes...especially for spring and summer!
PARSLEY COLE SLAW
2 cups chopped, fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 cup non-fat plain Greek yogurt
3 tablespoons non-fat sour cream
3 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
3 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 head finely shredded radicchio
1/2 head finely shredded cabbage
1/4 cup finely shredded carrots
1/2 cup walnuts
Mix all ingredient and enjoy! Keep refrigerated.
For more information on your ENT health, visit the ColoradoVoiceClinic.com.
Mon, Apr 6, 2015 @ 10:49 AM MDT
Nichenametla,S.N. et al. et al., Crit. Rev. Food Sci. Nutr., 2006, 161-183.