Parsley has much more use than just being a decorative garnish on your plate. Parsley is actually a storehouse of nutrients that features a delicious green and vibrant taste.
The health benefits of parsley come from two components — its volatile oils and antioxidants called flavonoids.
It's a little-known fact that herbs (and spices) such as parsley have far greater concentrations of antioxidants than any common fruit or vegetable source. Herbs also contain a particularly wide variety of antioxidants as well, making them one of the top antioxidant foods around.
Antioxidants are nutrient compounds found in virtually all plant foods (and also manufactured in your body). The primary job of antioxidants is to protect your cells against the oxidative stress caused by free radicals, considered to be the primary cause of the aging process.
Protecting yourself against free radicals with antioxidants is the most effective way to reduce the risk of many health problems associated with aging. The benefits of antioxidants include powerful protection against all types of degenerative diseases such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, macular degeneration, Alzheimer's disease, and many more.
Antioxidants work together, synergistically, and each one has its own specific characteristics and benefits. One antioxidant may work in places in the body where another one can't go, and neutralize free radicals that other antioxidants miss. Therefore, getting the widest variety of antioxidants is just as important as how much of any one antioxidant you get. See my page on How Do Antioxidants Work? to learn more about this.
Parsley belongs to a well-known group of antioxidant disease-fighting spices, along with ginger, cinnamon, turmeric, and red pepper. It has a wide spectrum of health benefits for prevention of heart disease, cancer, bad breath, indigestion and female problems.
Parsley is a good source of folic acid, one of the most important B vitamins. While it plays numerous roles in the body, one of its most critical health benefits relates to your cardiovascular health. Enjoying foods rich in folic acid, like parsley, is an especially good idea for individuals who either have, or wish to prevent, cardiovascular disease.
Parsley is a rich source of vitamin K, sufficient quantities of which is important for blood clotting and strong, healthy bones. Vitamin K also helps to reduce the risk of heart diseases. Parsley also provides the body with good quantities of beta-carotene and vitamin C. These are strong antioxidants that can protect you against inflammation and infections.
Parsley has a high concentration of iron, and the vitamin C in it helps with better absorption of iron in the body, thus leading to formation of more red blood cells. Regular intake of parsley helps to treat blood-related problems like anemia.
Chewing a sprig of parsley just after eating helps to freshen your breath, due to parsley's high concentration of chlorophyll.
Parsley is used as an excellent remedy for improving digestion. It helps with the proper digestion of both fats and proteins, and promotes intestinal absorption and assimilation of your food. The high enzyme content of parsley contributes to improvement of overall digestion of food and elimination of waste from the body.
Parsley contains volatile oils that help in the detoxification of chemicals that induce cancer. Parsley in your daily diet can help to neutralize particular types of carcinogens like the benzopyrenes that are part of cigarette and charcoal grill smoke.
Parsley increases the secretion of estrogen in women. It also helps to nourish and restore the blood contained in the uterus. For these reasons, parsley is useful for the treatment of conditions such as delayed periods, PMS, menopause, depression, irritability, dry skin, and hair loss related to low estrogen levels.
The benefits of parsley are so numerous, ideally you'd want to have some every day. However, as with any herb or spice, you may find it impractical to include parsley in your meal plans that often.
There's an easy way to accomplish this — by making yourself a smoothie every day and adding some parsley to your recipe.
Fresh smoothies make for some of the most nutritious, delicious and easy-to-make meals you could imagine. They're a great way to get more of those "good for you" antioxidant-rich foods (that you may not get enough of) into your diet.
I personally use herbs such as basil, cilantro and parsley in my green smoothie recipes to give them more of the benefits of dark green leafy vegetables. Because they're so concentrated with antioxidants, you can use a much smaller amount than you would with other greens like kale or spinach, and they won't overwhelm the flavor of your smoothie recipe.
I don't stop there, either. I like to use other spices such as cinnamon, cloves, ginger, turmeric and others in my smoothie recipes, mostly for their added antioxidant benefits. Once they're blended in with all the other ingredients, you can't really distinguish any one particular taste. You just need to experiment a little to get the flavor just right for you.
To learn more about the art of making smoothies, skip on over to my page on How to Make a Smoothie the Healthy Way and learn all my tricks for making delicious and nutritious smoothies!
More about parsley and ways to use it:
The World's Healthiest Foods/Parsley
Fresh parsley is best, but if you want to get all of the health benefits from dried parsley, you'll need more than the small bottles that you see at the supermarket. Those won't go very far and will cost much more by the pound than if you buy in bulk.
The benefits of parsley are important enough that they are available in supplement form as well. You can find a good selection of parsley supplements, as well as hundreds of other nutritional and natural health products at iHerb.com.
There's many reasons why iHerb is a great place to shop:
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If you want to get all of the health benefits of spices, you'll want to stay away from typical supermarket brands of bottled spices. Most of them are irradiated in order to destroy microorganisms, bacteria, and viruses that might be present. Irradiation, however, damages the integrity of the spice — destroying vitamins, minerals, proteins and other beneficial micronutrients. Irradiation also creates more free radicals, just the opposite of what you are trying to accomplish by eating spices.
Fortunately, I've got a wonderful online source for premium-quality organic spices — Starwest Botanicals and iHerb.com.
Starwest Botanicals started as a small retail herb shop in 1975 in Sacramento, California. From the beginning, their focus has been on quality; they source their products directly from around the world and process them in-house with their own herb mill to have more control over the finished product.
The Starwest company actively supports sustainable organic farming; as much as possible, they select ingredients from natural renewable sources and use renewable sources of energy.
Today, Starwest is one of the largest suppliers of organic herbs in the United States, with over a million pounds of herbs and spices in stock. You can get discount prices on their premium-quality products by purchasing them at iHerb's Starwest Botanical Store.
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