Parsley. It’s everybody’s favorite garnish.
You see it on your plate at your favorite restaurant.
But what do you do with it? It’s just for decoration, right?
Well, no. You should eat it.
Parsley: The Numbers
While a small sprig of parsley is not the fountain of youth, it still packs a nutritional punch.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Nutrient Database, one cup of chopped parsley contains:
- 22 calories
- 78 grams (g) of protein
- 47 g of fat
- 8 g of carbohydrate
- 2 g of fiber
- 51 g of sugar
It also provides 984 micrograms (mcg) of vitamin K, 79.8 mcg of vitamin C, and 5,054 international units (IU) of vitamin A.
In fact, one cup of parsley provides 1,230% of the recommended intake for vitamin K!
Packed with Micronutrients
Flavonoids, a group of natural substances with variable phenolic structures, are found in fruits, vegetables, grains, bark, roots, stems, flowers, tea, and wine.
Flavonoids are now considered an indispensable component in a variety of nutraceutical, pharmaceutical, and medicinal uses according to the Journal of Nutritional Science.
Myricetin is a flavonoid found in parsley and other plants and has been shown to help prevent skin cancer.
In fact, parsley contains one of the highest concentrations of myricetin.
Studies have shown that parsley and other green herbs, as well as vegetables, block the cancer-causing effects of heterocyclic amines—chemical compounds generated when meat is grilled at very high temperatures.
So, those who prefer their steak charred should pair it with parsley and green veggies to help reduce the potentially harmful effects.
The myricetin present in parsley has also been examined for use in the treatment and prevention of diabetes.
Laboratory and animal studies have demonstrated that myricetin can lower blood sugar levels and decrease insulin resistance.
It also appears to provide anti-inflammatory effects and remove excess fat from the blood.
Apigenin is another natural chemical found in parsley. In a 2015 review, it was shown to decrease tumor size in an aggressive form of breast cancer.
In fact, researchers believe that apigenin could be a promising non-toxic cancer treatment in the future.
Vitamin K is Bone Health
Low vitamin K has been associated with a higher risk of bone fracture.
In a recent meta-analysis, subjects with the highest levels of vitamin K experienced 22% fewer fractures than those with lower levels.
Consuming an adequate amount of vitamin K may improve bone health by increasing calcium absorption and reducing the excretion of calcium through urine.
And ten sprigs of parsley are enough to give you the recommended daily intake of vitamin K.
Are there any risks?
It is important not to alter the amount of vitamin K in your diet while taking blood-thinners such as Coumadin or Warfarin. Vitamin K plays a key role in blood clotting.
Of course, a diet with higher quantities of natural foods and fewer pre-processed foods is more likely to result in overall improved health.
So be sure to eat a wide variety of nutrient dense foods instead of focusing on just one power food.
But, still, quit passing up the parsley.