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Nutritious & Delicious Parsley

Parsley is a native plant of the Mediterranean and has been cultivated for at least two thousand years. The plant was initially used for medicinal purposes before it was commonly consumed as a food. While it is often used as a garnish, parsley can add unique flavors to a dish and has plenty of nutritional value.

Like other herbs, parsley has a high concentration of many vitamins and phytonutrients that help contribute to overall health. Parsley contains significant amounts of vitamins A and C, two powerful antioxidants that aid the immune system in wound healing and suppressing infection. The flavonoid, luteolin, is another antioxidant found in parsley; it eliminates free radicals from the body, acts as an anti-in?ammatory agent, and promotes carbohydrate metabolism. Parsley is also a good source of folic acid, which plays an important role in preserving cardiovascular health. Parsley has natural diuretic properties that may help reduce fluid retention.

The unique flavor of parsley comes from volatile oils in the plant's leaves. Parsley is widely used in food and beverage recipes. Its fresh flavor goes well with juices and fish and is common in many salads such as tabbouleh. Parsley is also used to flavor stocks, soups, and sauces. Persillade, often used in French cuisine, is a mixture of chopped garlic and chopped parsley and gremolata, used in Italian cuisine, is a mixture of parsley, garlic, and lemon zest.

Cooking with parsley can add wonderful flavors and health benefits to the diet. Parsley pairs well with carrots, cauliflower, potatoes, and zucchini, and is a great addition to pasta, beef and chicken dishes. It is best to use fresh parsley to preserve the vitamins and fresh flavor, but even dried parsley can add more than just a garnish to many dishes.

This article was submitted by Matthew Swader RD, CDN, Clinical Dietitian at NYP/Allen Hospital.


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