The use of Parsley dates back to almost two thousand years. Most of us probably know of it as that green leafy garnish on the side of your plate to help you freshen your breath after you eat a meal. But what are the other health benefits that parsley has to offer other than making your breath smell good? That green herb growing in your back yard might have more uses for you than you think.
What Are The Health Benefits Of Parsley
You might be surprised to know that parsley has been long used for other uses other than removing breath odors. In Turkey for instance, it’s used as a treatment for diabetes. In Morocco and Germany the oil from parsley is used as a diuretic in the management of high blood pressure. Bruised parsley leaves are used in traditional herbal medicine for the treatment of insect bites and itching (1).
How To Unleash The Power Of Parsley
Well, there’s always raw straight from the plant. But a study found that simmering, soup making, and stewing significantly increased the antioxidant effects of parsley. Refrigerating and freezing the herb helped to preserve the plant. On the flip side, grilling and stir frying decreased the antioxidant benefits of parsley (6).
Based off of traditional use, 1-2 teaspoons of bruised seeds per cup of boiling water are used twice daily. There are capsules out there and doses of 1800-2700 mg/day have been ingested without any noted side effects. Parsley oil on the other hand is much more potent and should be used cautiously (1).
So What Does Parsley Get You?
In just ten sprigs of parsley you get a plethora of antioxidants in the form of polyphenols, 17% of your vitamin A, 22% of your vitamin C, a whopping 205% of your vitamin K intake, and 4% of your folate (10). Parsley also offers quite a few other health benefits discussed below such as heart, kidney, and anti-bacterial effects. There’s always the obvious, traditional use of a breath freshener as well.
Parsley and Heart Health
Parsley As A Diuretic and Blood Pressure Management
A simple run down of how diuretics work is by causing your kidneys to excrete more fluid through the exchange of electrolytes like sodium or hormones. By removing more fluid off your body it in turn lowers your blood pressure by decreasing the amount of volume in your body. This is how modern day diuretics work. Parsley seems to have a similar effect. One study showed in rats that when they drank a parsley seed extract they eliminated a significantly larger amount of urine compared to when they were just drinking water (3). Another review of available literature also concluded that Parsley did indeed seem to have a diuretic effect which lowered blood pressure (4).
Aspirin Like Effects Of Parsley
Parsley has been known to increase the time it takes for blood to clot (1). Interestingly, in rats, parsley was found to have an increased bleeding time effect – similar to that of aspirin. The only thing was that it was an extract in high concentration (7,8,10). Many people take a daily low dose aspirin to help prevent blood clotting which can reduce the likely hood for strokes and heart attacks. Omega-3 fatty acids have a similar effect.
Parsley and Vitamin K
Parsley is quite high in Vitamin K – a vitamin responsible for increasing blood coagulation. Blood coagulation differs slightly from the way that aspirin works. Aspirin works to keep platelets from clumping together but another anti-coagulant, coumadin, works on a different coagulation pathway. Some people out there who have had strokes or have a history of clotting take coumadin which is a strong anti-coagulant. Vitamin K is the antidote for this medication. People with high intakes of vitamin K can offset the effects of coumadin so it’s important to keep in mind.
Parsley As An Antioxidant
One study showed oxidized particles of parsley was reduced in the urine of men (2). How about the antidiabetic effect of Parsley in Turkey? A study showed that due to the antioxidant properties it had a protective effect against liver toxicity caused by diabetes. In this study parsley was compared to an anti-diabetic drug called, glibornuride which helps to increase insulin secretion and lower blood sugars (5). Antioxidants are also well known for decreasing oxidative stress on the body and reducing inflammation.
What About The Oxalate?
Parsley is a little on the high side of oxalate – which is a by product of vitamin C. Oxalate CAN cause kidney stones but only under the right conditions: dehydration, low calcium diets, high protein diets, and high vitamin C intake are all risk factors for kidney stones. Water flushes out the kidneys and calcium helps bind to the oxalate in your intestines so they don’t become troublesome stones.
Anti-Bacterial Effects Of Parsley
Parsley contains a certain compound that has been shown to be highly toxic against fungi, bacteria, and even have an ability to reduce tumor formation (8).
Things To Keep In Mind
Some people can be allergic to parsley so if that’s you, definitely shy away from the plant. Also a good amount of studies performed on parsley were either performed on rats or in petri-dishes so further (and larger) human studies definitely need to be done. Another thing to keep in mind: some of these results about the health benefits of parsley were from parsley concentrate which is a lot stronger than just eating parsley itself. Regardless, juicing parsley, including it in your diet, or making tea from the plant will still provide you with a plethora of health benefits as part of a well balanced, real food diet.
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1. “Parsley.” Natural Standard – The Authority On Integrative Medicine. Web. 10 March 2014.
2. Daneshvar, B., Draqsted L., Knuthsen, P., Lauridsen, S., Nielson, S., Sandstrom, B., Young, J. “Effect Of Parsley (Petroselinium Cripsium) intake on urinary apigenin excretion, blood antioxidant enzymes, and biomarkers for oxidative stress in human subjects.” British Journal Of Nutrition. June 1999. Web. 10 March 2014.
3. Kreydiyyeh, S., Ustah, J. “Diruetic Effect and Mechanism Of Parsley.” Journal of Ethnopharmachology. March 2012. Web. 10 March 2014.
4. Koning, M., Kroner, C., Van-Buren, L., Wright, C. “Herbal Medicines As Diuretics: A Review Of The Scientific Evidence.” Journal of Ethnopharmacology. Oct. 2007. Web. 10 March 2014.
5. Orak, H., Ozgey, Y., Ozsoy-Sarcan, O., Tunali, T., Yanardag, R. “Effects Of Parsley (Petroselinium Cripsium) Extract Versus Glibornuride On The Liver Of Stroptozotocin-Induced Diabetic Rats.” Journal of Ethnopharmacology. March 2006. Web. 10 March 2014.
6. Chohan, M., Forster-Wilkins, G., Opara, E. “Determination Of The Antioxidant Capacity Of Culinary Herbs Subjected To Various Cooking And Storage Processes Using The ABTS(*+) Radical Cation Assay.” Plant Foods For Human Nutrition. June 2008. Web. 10 March 2014.
7. Aziz, M. Bnouham, M., Gadi, D., Lafeve, F., Legrand, C., Legssyer, A., Mekhfi, H., Ziyyat, A. “Parsley Extract Inhibits In Vitro and Ex Vitro Platelet Aggregation and Prolongs Bleeding Time In Rats.” Journal of Ethnopharmacology. Aug. 2009. Web. 10 March 2014.
8. Brandt. K., Christensen, L. “Bioactive Polyacetylenes In Food Plants Of The Apiaceae Family: Occurence, Bioactivity, and Analysis.” Journal of Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Analysis. June 2006. Web. 10 March 2014.
9. Aziz, M., Berrabah, M., Bnouham, M., Bruel, A., Fauvel-Lafeve, F., Gadi, D., Legrand, C., Mekhfi, H., Ziyyat, A. “Flavonoids Purified From Parsley Inhibit Human Blood Platelet Aggregation and Adhesion To Collagen Under Flow.” Journal Of Complementary Medicine. Aug. 2012. Web. 10 March 2014.
10. N.p. “Parsley.” Nutrition Data. Conde’ Nast. 2013. Web. 10 March 2014.