Pumped-Up Parsley: Packed with Nutrition
In our post about 99 Smoothie Mix-Ins for Weight Loss (And Everything Else!) we discuss how parsley is great for your eyes. This is primarily because parsley helps stimulate the tiny blood vessels that send oxygen and nutrients to the eyes and other smaller body parts. And like the ubiquitous carrots, parsley too is rich in beta-carotene, a compound vital to healthy eyes and great eyesight.
Parsley is perhaps best known as a breath and digestive supplement. You can find parsley leaf capsules for sale, said to improve your breath from the inside out. You can even find these for your dog! This is because the high levels of chlorophyll in parsley make it a great deodorizer and even a powerful anti-bacterial.
So what else can parsley do for our health? What beneficial nutrients does it contain?
Parsley is a powerful antioxidant herb, combining its vitamin content with flavonoids that help prevent damage to your body at the cellular level. Parsley may even increase the antioxidant content of your blood, carrying helpful antioxidants throughout your system.
So what exactly are antioxidants good for? We hear about them all the time, but we rarely hear how they work or what precisely they do for us.
To put it very simply, antioxidants help prevent cell damage. They’re called antioxidants because they prevent damage to cells caused by oxygen. But wait, oxygen is good! Yes, oxygen is great for you to breathe. But exposure to oxygen does cause cell damage. This is part of what causes what we think of as plain old aging. And antioxidants may slow or prevent that process.
Although we do know the mechanisms through which antioxidants work, there’s little hard scientific evidence that they actually prevent or protect from big killers like cancer and heart disease. But luckily, a diet rich in fruits and vegetables–including many of the big sources of antioxidants like blueberries, parsley, beets, and avocados–is healthier for us anyway!
Just one tiny tablespoon of this light leafy herb contains 6% of the vitamin A that you need every day. That’s pretty amazing for an herb that’s often used only as a garnish! The little sprig of parsley on the side of your plate could be contributing to your health if you chowed down.
Vitamin A is particularly good for your skin, and is sometimes used to treat acne. It can also help prevent wrinkles in your skin, making it vital for people of every age. But Vitamin A isn’t all about your looks: it also supports bone growth, reproductive functions, and of course excellent vision.
Although it’s unusual for people these days to be deficient in vitamin A, getting too much is equally unusual. And since this vitamin helps your body repel bacteria and viruses, it’s better to get more rather than less from your healthy diet! The best news? Plant-based sources of vitamin A are much better options for you than taking excessive supplements. You’re less likely to get too much, and you’re much more likely to reap extra benefits from consuming more fruits, vegetables, and herbs.
Parsley is a natural diuretic, meaning that it increases your urine output and therefore reduces the amount of fluids in your body. This might sound bad if you’re trying to stay hydrated, but think again: it can work for you if your body is fighting a UTI, kidney stones, or edema (fluid retention).
This herb contains apiol and myristicin, both of which stimulate your body to process fluid, which may help your kidneys sweep out bacteria and other toxins and reduce swelling. When trying to treat a specific problem, many people make a tea out of parsley to treat their ailment, but you should always consult your doctor before taking an herbal supplement.
Adding fresh parsley to your diet, however, is a pretty safe bet! The combination of vitamins, minerals, and water content balances the effects of the herb on your body. You can’t really get enough leafy greens!
Most Americans know parsley primarily as a garnish, like we mentioned above. It comes on the side of your seafood platter, or sprinkled on top of your risotto. But parsley is so good for you that you might want to make it a bigger part of your meals. Here are some recipe ideas that spotlight this tasty green!
- Parsley Sauce: This traditional English sauce is virtually unknown in the United States, but it makes a delicious accompaniment to pork, salmon, white fishes, and potatoes, adding tons of nutritional value to any meal. The bright green color of this sauce is beautiful, and its mild flavor might get some greens into kids, too!
- Tabbouleh: This is a super healthy vegetarian dish often served in Lebanese and other Middle-Eastern restaurants. The combination of mint, parsley, and cucumber is extremely refreshing, and the base of bulghur wheat makes this salad filling and full of fiber and protein. It’s a win-win-WIN dinner option.
- Parsley Pesto: If you’ve only had pesto made with basil, you’re missing out! The light flavor of parsley makes a nice change from the usual pesto, and because it isn’t as strongly flavored as basil, you can switch up your recipe with different nuts, too! This recipe calls for almonds, but try pecans or walnuts for totally different flavor profiles (and a more varied diet).
- Chimichurri: If you’ve ever eaten at an Argentinian steak restaurant, then you’ve probably encountered this amazingly flavorful green sauce. Packed with parsley, garlic, lemon juice, and optional chiles, chimichurri sauce is a lot better for you than the huge slabs of red meat it’s traditionally served with! Try it on grilled vegetables, stir-fried tofu, chicken tenders, eggs, or stirred into mashed potatoes or cauliflower.
Let’s Wrap It Up
If you’re looking for more ways to vary your diet, check out our FREE smoothie eBook! It includes 41 recipes for IdealShake smoothies to satisfy any craving, with plenty of mix-in options for you to experiment with. Check it out!