Health Benefits of Parsley
Although most of us think of it as a simple garnish, herbalists and other traditional healers believe that the benefits of parsley are numerous. Scientific evaluation of the dietary effects of parsley support some of these traditional uses. And, the nutritional value of parsley is higher than you might expect.
One of the primary health benefits of parsley is as a food source. Over the years both the leaves and the roots of some varieties have been eaten by people all over the world. Some ethnic dishes rely on the herb for its fresh flavor. It goes particularly well with fish, but can also be used in sauces, soups, stews and salads.
Unfortunately, in America, most people view parsley as a garnish and leave it uneaten. Big mistake.
As a food source, the nutritional value of parsley comes mostly from its vitamin C content. A mere 3 ½ ounces contains 133mg of vitamin C, more than double the USRDA for the vitamin. Although when it comes to vitamin C, many nutritionists feel that individuals can benefit from thousands of milligrams per day, particularly from food sources.
The high nutritional value of parsley also comes from its vitamin A content; 421 mcg per 3 ½ ounces, about 50% of the USRDA for that vitamin. Vitamin A is an antioxidant, meaning it reduces the damaging affects of oxygen on the cells of the human body. But, the dietary effects of parsley do not end with its vitamin content.
The health benefits of parsley in herbal medicine include its use in the control of high blood pressure. Chinese and German herbalists recommend parsley tea for this purpose. Scientific evaluations of the dietary effects of parsley seem to support this recommendation.
Several different underlying problems have been associated with hypertension or high blood pressure. One, the kidneys lose their ability to excrete sodium (salt) efficiently, disturbing the natural balance of water and salt in the body.
Two, people who have high blood pressure are usually “salt-sensitive”; salt tends to increase fluid retention in their bodies.
And three, the body’s natural systems designed to control blood pressure in the short term is overactive in people with chronic hypertension.
This leads to constriction of the blood vessels and increases retention of water and salt. Some of the prescription medications for the treatment of high blood pressure are designed to improve the body’s ability to rid itself of excess fluids and salt. They are called “diuretics”.
Scientific evaluations of the dietary effects of parsley have shown that it enhances the kidney's ability to excrete sodium and water, thus it acts as a natural diuretic. It also improves the function of potassium in the body. Potassium counteracts the negative effects of salt.
Other reported health benefits of parsley are to improve blood flow in the pelvic region and to strengthen the bladder. Modern evaluations of the dietary effects of parsley do not support these claims.
Parsley contains a compound (oxalic acid) that is involved in the formation of kidney stones. If consumed in large amounts over long periods of time, this compound can result in calcium and other nutrient deficiencies, because it binds to these minerals, making them unavailable for use in the body.
On the other hand, when calcium supplements are taken with foods containing oxalic acid, the effect is counteracted. The oxalic acid is not absorbed and it is excreted from the body harmlessly. A handful a day or the amount found in whole food supplements should provide the health benefits of parsley, without the possible effects of over consumption.
Numerous public health organizations have made recommendations to eat a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products, nuts and whole grains. The nutritional value of parsley is high, but it does not contain everything that the body needs to function efficiently on a daily basis.
The health benefits of parsley and other vegetables, as well as fruits, nuts and whole grains cover every system of the human body. For those who do not get their recommended 5-10 servings per day, a whole food supplement is a good option.
Russell Cantwell is the editor of http://www.whole-food-supplements-guide.com/ . Visit health benefits of parsley now to learn more about this amazing green veggie, and to discover whole food supplements that contain it and much more.