Parsley is one of those foods that I like but never seem to have around when I need it. I buy a bunch for a recipe and use a few tablespoons and then it goes bad in my refrigerator so I've decided to explore the benefits of parsley and determine the best way to store and use it so that I'm not wasting food or money.
What is it
The word parsley is derived from a greek word meaning "rock celery" as it is in the same family as celery. Parsley is native to the Mediterranean region of southern Europe where it was originally cultivated for medicinal use. Additionally, the ancient greek held it sacred using it to decorate tombs and adorn winners of athletic contests. No one quite knows when parsley began to be used as a seasoning but it appears to be sometime in the Middle Ages. Fortunately, it has become a staple in many diets because it boosts the taste and appearance of a dish. What many may not understand are its powerful health benefits.
According to the United States (U.S.) Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Nutrient Database, one cup of chopped parsley contains:
1.78 grams (g) of protein
0.47 g of fat
3.8 g of carbohydrate
2 g of fiber
0.51 g of sugar
The same quantity of parsley provides 984 micrograms (mcg) of vitamin K, as well as 79.8 mcg of vitamin C, and 5,054 international units (IU) of vitamin A. One cup of parsley provides 1,230 percent of the recommended intake of vitamin K.
What does that mean in terms of health benefits?
- Helps prevent cancer specifically skin cancer: Parsley contains one of the highest concentrations of a flavenoid (click on the link to find out about flavenoids in another blog) called Myricetin that has been linked to the prevention of skin cancer.
- Helps prevent and control Type 2 diabetes: The flavonoid Myricetin also helps decrease blood sugar and decrease insulin resistance.
- Decreases inflammation: Parsley helps decrease inflammation by decreasing oxidative stress on the body with its high concentration of flavonoids.
- Improves bone health: The large dose of vitamin K in parsley is responsible for improving bone health by increasing calcium absorption and decreasing calcium excretion in the urine.
A daily dose is simply 10 sprigs so it is not terribly hard to achieve!
How to Prepare and Store
In the store, choose parsley that is deep green in color and doesn't have leaves that are wilted or brown as this may indicate that it is overmature or damaged. Once you get it home it should be stored in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. It should be washed right before using and should be washed like spinach. It should be placed in a bowl of cold water and swished gently to allow the dirt to fall to the bottom of the bowl. Replace the water with clean water and repeat until the dirt is removed. It should then be placed on towels to dry.
How to Use
- In green juice
- Added to homemade salad dressings
- Added to potatoes or rice
- Added to tomato based sauces
- Added to garden salads
Riley's Lebanese Inspired Rice
2 cups brown rice, cooked
1-4/1-2 cup toasted pine nuts
Juice of 1/2-1 lemon
1 cup finely chopped parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
- Combine all ingredients in a bowl except salt and pepper adding only 1/2 the lemon to begin with.
- Add salt and pepper to taste then adjust lemon to taste as well adding additional lemon juice if needed.