Benefits of Parsley
Parsley or garden parsley is a species of Petroselinum in the family Apiaceae.
1. What is Parsley
Parsley is an annual herb indigenous to the Mediterranean region, but now cultivated worldwide. It has erect stems and bright green leaves. Two cultivars of parsley exist: a curly leaf type and a flat leaf type. Parsley produces an umbel of tiny flowers and characteristic ribbed seeds. Caution must be used when gathering wild parsley because of the general similarity of its leaves and flowers to 3 common poisonous plants. The first, Aethusa cynapium (dog poison, fools parsley, small hemlock) may be distinguished from parsley by the shiny, yellowgreen underside of the leaves, which are dull in parsley, and the white flowers, which are yellowish in parsley.
While parsley is a wonderfully nutritious and healing food, it is often underappreciated. Most people do not realize that this vegetable has more uses than just being a decorative garnish that accompanies restaurant meals. They do not know that parsley is actually a storehouse of nutrients and that it features a delicious green and vibrant taste. The two most popular types of parsley are curly parsley and Italian flat leaf parsley. The Italian variety has a more fragrant and less bitter taste than the curly variety. There is also another type of parsley known as turniprooted (or Hamburg) that is cultivated for its roots, which resemble salsify and burdock. Parsley belongs to the Umbelliferae family of plants, and its Latin name is Petroselinum crispum.
Parsley is native to the Mediterranean region of Southern Europe. While it has been cultivated for more than 2,000 years, parsley was used medicinally prior to being consumed as a food. The ancient Greeks held parsley to be sacred, using it to not only adorn victors of athletic contests, but also for decorating the tombs of the deceased. The practice of using parsley as a garnish actually has a long history that can be traced back to the civilization of the ancient Romans.
4. Health Benefits
A sprig of parsley can provide much more than a decoration on your plate. Parsley contains two types of unusual components that provide unique health benefits. The first type is volatile oil componentsincludingmyristicin,limonene,eugenol, andalphathujene. The second type is flavonoidsincludingapiin,apigenin,crisoeriol, andluteolin.
5. Promote Optimal Health
Parsleys volatile oilsparticularly myristicinhave been shown to inhibit tumor formation in animal studies, and particularly, tumor formation in the lungs. Myristicin has also been shown to activate the enzymeglutathioneStransferase, which helps attach the molecule glutathione to oxidized molecules that would otherwise do damage in the body. The activity of parsleys volatile oils qualifies it as a chemoprotective food, and in particular, a food that can help neutralize particular types of carcinogens (like thebenzopyrenesthat are part of cigarette smoke and charcoal grill smoke).
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