Parsley is a pretty little Mediterranean herb that lends a sprinkling of color to your plate. But let’s not think of it as just a garnish—after all, parsley has been around for more than 2000 years, and boasts some time-tested benefits that you should know about.
A surprisingly small amount of parsley is packed with vitamins. Just two tablespoons provides two percent of your daily calcium, iron, and folate; 12 percent of your vitamin A; over 150 percent of your vitamin K; and 16 percent of your vitamin C. Not too shabby for a humble herb! Check out these parsley health benefits and ways to get more parsley into your day-to-day.
- The vitamin K in parsley aids in bone health, while the wealth of vitamin C makes it a great immune booster.
- Parsley is an excellent source of beta carotene, an antioxidant that can help protect the body against free-radical damage and fight the effects of aging.
- There is some evidence that parsley can support healthy kidney function. However, the herb contains oxalates, which can cause problems for those with existing kidney and gall bladder problems.
- Use parsley daily, and you’ll feel relief from joint pain. That’s because the herb has anti-inflammatory properties.
- Parsley tea relaxes stiff muscles and encourages digestion. It has been used traditionally for an array of other health issues, as well.
- Because it’s high in iron, parsley is recommended for patients with anemia. Two tablespoons of parsley provides two percent of your daily iron, so a sprinkling of parsley gives any food a little iron boost.
- Parsley is rich in cancer-fighting compounds. Early studies suggest that compounds in parsley may even inhibit tumor growth!
Healthy Parsley Recipes
If you’re new to cooking with parsley, you might be wondering how to add more to your diet. These are some simple recipes to get you started.
1. Add it to your smoothies. Parsley makes a refreshing addition to your morning smoothie! It might sound like a weird flavor to pair with fruit, but it makes a fruity smoothie surprisingly refreshing.
2. Make chimichurri. Chimichurri is a South American sauce starring plenty of fresh parsley. It’s a little bit like a pesto but with more of a bright flavor. It’s a great sauce for dipping bread or spooning over something hearty, like portobello mushrooms.
3. Drizzle it onto your salads. Like in a smoothie, parsley adds a lovely flavor to creamy salad dressings. Try Dianne’s Easy Peasy Lemony Tahini dressing with a healthy dose of parsley.
4. Have a panzanella party. Panzanella is a bread salad, and it’s perfect with plenty of parsley! Try this delicious recipe.
5. Add to your grain salads. Ricki’s quinoa and wild rice salad gets some extra zip from plenty of fresh parsley.
6. Toss into pasta salad. Parsley and two kinds of squash are the stars of Nava Atlas’s healthy pasta salad recipe.
7. Mix up your pesto. Pesto doesn’t have to be all about the basil. Try this vegan parsley pesto with walnuts pasta recipe. And also this eggplant lasagna with parsley pesto. Kathy over at Healthy Slow Cooking has a kale pesto recipe with parsley (pictured above) that she adds to hummus. Yum!
8. Spice up your rice. Vegan Miam’s Arroz Verde recipe uses a whole cup of fresh parsley for a bright, vibrant side dish.
Written by Shubhra Krishan and Becky Striepe. Graphic by Becky Striepe. All recipe images via recipe authors, used with permission. Parsley image via Thinkstock.