Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Power of Herbs - Parsley

Parsley is probably one of the most widely used herbs to garnish a dish, and it does add a certain elegance to a meal. It is also a practical tool for cleansing the palate and freshening the breath after eating, so in that way, it plays multiple roles on the plate.

However, limiting parsley in the diet to a sprig at the end of a meal greatly limits its true health benefits as an anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-carcinogenic, and digestion aid.

Just 2 tablespoons of fresh parsley provide the following nutrients:

% daily value

vitamin K 154

vitamin C 17

vitamin A 13

Folate 3

Iron 3

The flavenoids in parsley act as powerful antioxidants to neutralize oxygen radicals and increase the antioxidant activity of the blood. It has high levels of vitamin K, which is required for blood clotting and bone formation, the antioxidant vitamin C, and vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene. Foods rich in this nutrient are linked to a reduced risk of atherosclerosis, diabetes, and colon cancer.

Parsley contains volatile oils including myristicin, which have been shown to inhibit tumor formation in the lungs of animals. Myristicin also activates glutathione-S-transferase, which works with glutathione to prevent damage done by oxidized molecules. The oils also work to protect against the harmful effects of compounds referred to as benzopyrenes found in cigarette smoke, charcoal grill smoke, and fried foods.

Here are some easy ways to get the full benefits of parsley:

  • Add fresh, chopped parsley to scrambled eggs or omelets
  • Sprinkle it onto grain dishes near the end of cooking
  • Flavor sautéed vegetables
  • Include it in soups and stews
  • Mix it into salads
  • Use it to make pesto

What are your favorite ways to use parsley??

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