I know most of you see parsley as a garnish (and afterthought) to your main meal but parsley is the world’s most popular herb and is a rock star that can woo your taste buds while providing health benefits.
This biennial plant that returns to the garden year after year provides unique healthy benefits via its volatile oil components, myristicin, limonene, eugenol, and alpha-thujene, and its flavonoids, apiin, apigenin, crisoeriol, and luteolin.
Parsley’s volatile oils, especially myristicin, have been shown to inhibit tumor formation in animal studies, and particularly, tumor formation in the lungs. Myristicin has also been shown to activate the enzyme glutathione-S-transferase, which helps attach the molecule glutathione to oxidized molecules that would otherwise do damage in the body. Parsley’s volatile oils qualifies it as a “chemoprotective” food, meaning it is a food that can help neutralize particular types of carcinogens. Like rosemary it is a great herb to add to marinades for foods that you would cook on the grill to counteract the carcinogens from the grill smoke.
The flavonoids in parsley, especially luteolin, are antioxidants that combine with highly reactive oxygen-containing molecules (called oxygen radicals) and help prevent oxygen-based damage to cells. The herb is an excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin A and folic acid. These vitamins and mineral promote less inflammation and increased cardiovascular health.
If nothing else, chew on that sprig after you eat as parsley is a great breath freshener!
The two most popular varieties found in all produce sections of grocers are curly and Italian flat leaf parsley. The Italian flat leaf is more fragrant and less bitter taste than the curly variety. Regardless of which version you prefer try either variety in these delicious recipes from The Whole Meal. You’ll never relegate the bright green herb to the side of the plate again.
The traditional Lebanese grain salad, tabbouleh, is usually made with bulgar wheat but I find quinoa to be a wonderful gluten free substitute. It is the liberal amount of parsley that distinguishes this dish which can be eaten as a side dish or, as in this version which includes chickpeas, as a main meal.
The French know how to use fresh herbs and this baked egg dish is no exception. While it is a melange of herbs the addition of parsley compliments the other more aromatic herbs.
It is the potato salad recipe included in this chicken recipe that shows how fresh parsley can completely transform a dish. If you have never added fresh parsley to your potato salads, as well as prepared this summer bbq classic with tangy yogurt and a dash of peppery horseradish you’ll want to try this version and you’ll most likely never go back to the ho-hum version again.