Parsley is more than just an attractive garnish for your dinner plate and a sneaky herb that ruins a clean smile. This green goddess is chock full of antioxidants such as vitamin C, vitamin K, luteolin and apigenin which have been shown to reduce the risk of several diseases, including some types of cancer. Regularly adding parsley to your meals will not only boost your antioxidant intake, it will crown you queen of cooking with culinary herbs.
Both apigenin and luteolin are flavonoids, a class of antioxidants which may help prevent cancer and other inflammatory diseases. According to an article published in the "International Journal of Oncology," apigenin contains anticarcinogenic properties such as preventing and/or slowing the growth of tumor cells. Additionally, researchers at China Medical University showed that, in vitro, luteolin was associated with apoptosis, a process which causes tumor cell death. No, eating excessive amounts of parsley will not cure an existing cancer. But along with a healthy diet, a cup of parsley a day spread throughout meals may help control inflammation and boost your body's resistance.
Effects of Heat
Depending on the nutrient, heat can either increase or decrease its capacity to benefit your health. Just 1/4 cup of parsley contains greater than 25 percent of your Daily Value for vitamins C, A and K. Vitamin C, however, is heat-sensitive and is reduced or destroyed upon cooking while vitamin A levels are enhanced with added heat and vitamin K remains stable. Simmering, soup-making and stewing increase levels of apigenin and luteolin, while grilling and stir-frying reduces their levels, so cook your parsley with liquid-based dishes on low heat. Even better, throw parsley in during the last several minutes of cooking.
Eat More Parsley
Try blending together raw parsley, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper in a blender. This nutrient-packed green sauce adds creaminess to pasta, sweet potatoes and vegetables, and adds depth of flavor to sandwiches and wraps. Raw or cooked, parsley has a mild flavor and can be used in large amounts in soups and stews without drastically altering the intended taste of the dish. Throw handfuls of chopped parsley into cold grain salads, mixed vegetable dishes and omelets.
Too Much Parsley?
Vitamin K reduces the effects of the blood thinning medication coumadin. You may not eat enough parsley to warrant caution, but you may be eating other foods high in vitamin K so take their cumulative effect into consideration. Talk to your dietitian or doctor about the appropriate amounts of parsley you may add to your diet.
- International Journal of Oncology: Apigenin and Cancer Chemoprevention: Progress, Potential and Promise
- USDA Nutrient Database: Parsley, Fresh
- Journal of Plant Foods for Human Nutrition: Determination of the Antioxidant Capacity of Culinary Herbs Subjected to Various Cooking and Storage Processes Using the ABTS(*+) Radical Cation Assay
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Possible Interactions with: Vitamin K
Based in Illinois, Ashley Galloway writes nutrition-related articles. Her work has been published in "Space Coast Daily " magazine and she maintains a nutriton and recipe blog known as The Fresh Beet. Galloway holds a Master of Science in nutrition from Florida State University and practices as a Registered Dietitian.