5 Health Benefits of Parsley & Reasons to Cook with It

by Matt Weik, BS, CSCS, CPT, CSN

Originating from the central and eastern Mediterranean regions, parsley is a flowering plant that has become a staple herb in kitchens worldwide and has also found a home in Europe. Its vibrant green color and subtle bitter flavor make it a versatile addition to a variety of culinary creations, whether as an ingredient or a decorative garnish.

Beyond its culinary uses, parsley has gained recognition for its health benefits and nutritional richness. In fact, it has earned a special place on the CDC’s list of powerhouse plants due to its exceptional nutrient density and potential to combat chronic illnesses.

If you’re curious to know more about this green garnish, in this article, we have compiled a list of some of parsley’s most notable health benefits.

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and is not meant to treat or diagnose any condition. It is recommended that you speak with your doctor before making any changes to your nutrition program.

The Nutritional Value of Parsley

Parsley is more nutritious than people think. In 30 grams of freshly chopped parsley, you can find the following nutritional value.

  • Calories: 11 kcal
  • Protein: 1 gram
  • Carbs: 2 grams
  • Fiber: 1 gram
  • Fat: >1 gram
  • Vitamin K: 574% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI)
  • Vitamin A: 108% of the RDI
  • Vitamin C: 53% of the RDI
  • Potassium: 4% of the RDI
  • Folate: 11% of the RDI

The Health Benefits of Parsley

Below are five health benefits of parsley:

  1. Improves bone health

A lack of vitamin K in your diet has been linked to a greater chance of suffering from bone fractures. Getting enough vitamin K is essential for maintaining strong bones because it helps the body absorb calcium and reduces the loss of calcium through urine.

In a recent study that analyzed various research findings, individuals with the highest levels of vitamin K in their systems had a remarkable 22% lower risk of fractures than those with lower levels.

  1. Good for your kidney functions

Parsley is not just a tasty herb, it’s a natural ally for your kidneys. With its diuretic properties, parsley helps your body flush out excess fluids and toxins, making it especially helpful for kidney concerns. Moreover, it aids in regulating sodium levels, which can lower blood pressure and boost overall health.

In a study conducted on rats afflicted with kidney stones, those who received parsley treatment showed significant improvements. They experienced a reduction in the excretion of calcium and protein through urine, alongside an increase in urinary pH and urination frequency when compared to the control group.

  1. Supports heart health

Heart disease, such as heart attacks and strokes, stands as the primary global cause of death. Lifestyle factors such as an unhealthy diet, sedentary habits, smoking, and excessive alcohol consumption can significantly contribute to the development of heart conditions.

In contrast, parsley contains numerous plant compounds, notably carotenoid antioxidants, that have demonstrated their potential to enhance heart health by mitigating risk factors associated with heart disease.

For instance, diets rich in carotenoids, like those found in parsley, have been proven to improve heart disease risk factors. These include addressing chronic inflammation, as well as managing high blood pressure and levels of LDL (commonly known as “bad”) cholesterol.

Remarkably, a 12-year study involving 73,286 nurses unveiled a reverse relationship between dietary carotenoids and the occurrence of coronary artery disease. Similarly, a substantial study tracking 13,293 individuals for up to 18 years noted that those with higher blood levels of carotenoids had significantly lower heart disease-related mortality rates than those with lower carotenoid levels.

  1. May reduce the risk of cancer

Parsley boasts volatile oil components, including limonene, alpha-thujene, myristicin, and eugenol, all of which offer notable benefits for the immune system and cancer prevention. These oil components have shown their ability to inhibit tumor growth, shield the body from harmful carcinogens, and counteract oxidative stress.

Parsley has earned its reputation as a chemoprotective plant due to its capacity to impede cell mutations, safeguard DNA from harm, and promote the elimination of detrimental cells.

Furthermore, incorporating foods rich in vitamin C into your diet can potentially lower your cancer risk. A study revealed that a daily increase of 100 mg in vitamin C intake reduced the overall risk of cancer by 7%.

  1. Protects eye and skin health

The advantages of parsley for eye health stem from its abundant supply of two vital antioxidants: pro-vitamin A carotenoids and beta-carotene. These antioxidants play a crucial role in supporting eye health by safeguarding the retina and cornea from age-related damage, thereby reducing the risk of conditions like macular degeneration and cataracts.

Moreover, vitamin A, found in parsley, not only contributes to eye well-being but also acts as a defender against signs of aging in the skin. It provides protection against the harmful effects of UV light on both the eyes and the skin, potentially aiding in the prevention of skin cancer.