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The Amazing Health Benefits of Parsley, or, "Hey, I Shouldn't Be Just a Table Garnish!"

Parsley is an easy-to-use, incredibly flavorful, nutrition powerhouse, yet, unfortunately, it often gets regarded as a "throw-away" garnish on dinner plates. Derived from the Greek word meaning "rock celery" (because it's related to celery), parsley has been cultivated for 2,000 years, and was used medicinally long before that.


Just two tablespoons of parsley provide over 150% of the daily recommended value of vitamin K.

In fact, in ancient times parsley was regarded as sacred and was used to decorate tombs. It's believed that the ancient Romans were the first ones to begin popularizing parsley as a garnish.

Among its more than 30 varieties, the two most popular are flat-leaf parsley and curly-leaf parsley, both of which can be found in most supermarkets (and are simple to grow yourself).

Aside from adding a burst of fresh flavor to soups, vegetables, meats and a host of other dishes, parsley is full of valuable nutrients that have proven health benefits.

Parsley's Many Health-Giving Properties

Parsley contains three times as much vitamin C as oranges, and twice as much iron as spinach. It's an excellent source of vitamin K, vitamin A and folate, as well. But parsley's nutrition advantages do not end there.

For a quick look at parley's major nutrients (based on two tablespoons, which has only 2.7 calories!), check out the chart below, then keep reading to find out about more of parsley's healthy benefits.

Nutrient Amount % Daily Value Rating*
Vitamin K 123.00 mcg 153.8 Excellent
Vitamin C 9.97 mg 16.6 Excellent
Vitamin A 631.80 IU 12.6 Excellent
Folate (folic acid) 11.40 mcg 2.9 Good
Iron 0.46 mg 2.6 Good

* Based on nutrient density and daily value.

Fights cancer. Parsley contains volatile oils that have been found to inhibit tumor formation in animal studies, particularly those in the lungs. The oils are not only cancer-fighting, they're also known to neutralize carcinogens including those found in cigarette smoke and charcoal grill smoke. Parsley also contains folic acid, which has been found to help prevent colon and cervical cancers.

Antioxidant-rich. Parsley contains beneficial antioxidant compounds called flavonoids. These compounds combine with oxygen-containing molecules and help prevent oxygen-based damage to cells. Parsley extracts have also been found to increase the antioxidant capacity of the blood in animal studies.

Good for the heart. The folic acid in parsley is a critical nutrient in cardiovascular health. Specifically, folic acid helps convert potentially dangerous homocysteine into harmless molecules, a process that protects blood vessels and reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke.

Protects against rheumatoid arthritis. A study published in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases found that people who ate the least amount of vitamin-C-rich foods (like parsley) had a three times greater chance of developing rheumatoid arthritis than those who ate the most.


For an easy way to get more nutrients in your diet, make parsley a featured part of your meal -- not just a garnish.

How to Use Parsley

As you can see from the chart above, it only takes two tablespoons of parsley to yield a host of health benefits (but you can use as much as you like!). Fresh parsley is always more flavorful than the dried variety, so if you can get it, always use fresh. Generally, the flat version tends to have a more intense flavor than the curly-leaf variety, but pick the type that appeals to you the most.

Simply wash the parsley, chop it up and sprinkle it into your favorite dishes, from soups and salads to fish and meat dishes. Or, check out the tasty recipe below for a parsley sauce that works great on lamb, fish and chicken.

Garlic, Lemon & Parsley Dressing


  • 6 cloves garlic, finely chopped or pressed
  • 6 tbsp. finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 6 tbsp. fresh breadcrumbs
  • 6 tbsp. softened butter
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper


  1. Make a smooth paste of the garlic, parsley, breadcrumbs, butter and lemon juice
  2. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  3. Spread the sauce on the desired entrée near the end of the cooking time (in the last hour for meat) and return to oven.


Recommended Reading

Disease-Fighting Plants: 7 Delicious Herbs that Pack a Powerful Antimicrobial Punch

The 6 Healthiest Staple Foods in Greek Cuisine


The World's Healthiest Foods

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